ARC Review: The Queen’s Assassin

Title: The Queen’s Assassin
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Series: The Queen’s Secret #1
Release Date: February 4th 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Rating: ★★


Caledon Holt is the Kingdom of Renovia’s deadliest weapon. No one alive can best him in brawn or brains, which is why he’s the Guild’s most dangerous member and the Queen’s one and only assassin. He’s also bound to the Queen by an impossible vow–to find the missing Deian Scrolls, the fount of all magical history and knowledge, stolen years ago by a nefarious sect called the Aphrasians.

Shadow has been training all her life to follow in the footsteps of her mother and aunts–to become skilled enough to join the ranks of the Guild. Though magic has been forbidden since the Aphrasian uprising, Shadow has been learning to control her powers in secret, hoping that one day she’ll become an assassin as feared and revered as Caledon Holt.

When a surprise attack brings Shadow and Cal together, they’re forced to team up as assassin and apprentice to hunt down a new sinister threat to Renovia. But as Cal and Shadow grow closer, they’ll uncover a shocking web of lies and secrets that may destroy everything they hold dear. With war on the horizon and true love at risk, they’ll stop at nothing to protect each other and their kingdom in this stunning first novel in the Queen’s Secret series.


A boy who is trained in the art of death, sent to kill the enemies of the Queen of the Kingdom and a girl who appears as nothing more than a country girl but has been training to become apart of the Guild for years. They embark on a journey to save their kingdom from another magical war and on the way encounter friendship, deception, love betrayal and that’s just between the two of them.

➽ Cal – The Queen’s Assassin due to a blood oath passed from his father to him. He serves the Queen well and is accomplished in the Guild. One fatal error lands him in hot water with the general public though and he is sent to Deeria prison on a top secret mission. The kingdom of Montrice is thought to be aiding the Aphrasian uprising and it’s up to him to figure out who. The stakes are high and if caught the Queen will not come to his aid.

➽ Shadow – A country girl who lives in the outskirts of the kingdom with her adoptive aunts who are Guild members like her mother, who she rarely sees due to her work at the palace. She wants nothing more than to be a Guild member, a top assassin like Caldon Holt, but her mother has other plans for her at court. While out exploring the Aphrasian Abbey one day she discovers they are once more at large and is witness to Cal’s crime against the kingdom. He is sent to the top prison for his actions, which Shadow deems cruel since he was only saving her. To repay his actions and make her own dreams come true, she sets out to Deersia to help Cal escape and become his apprentice.

The Queen’s Assassin was odd for lack of a better term. It felt like an attempt at a debut novel, someone just getting into writing (no offense to debut authors I’ve read some of the best novels from debut authors). The book is told in a dual-POV, which I usually love because it’s nice to know how both characters feel or what they’re thinking. That being said Shadow’s POV is in first person while Cal’s is in third person? It kind of felt like two different books. It was jarring and made it very hard to get into the book.

The romance was front and center for the entirety of this novel. There is no hate to love trope here, but instead Cal always admires Shadow and her skills which I appreciated. It was a bit of insta-love, but I thought they had good chemistry. They were constantly teasing one another, both stubborn as hell with how they felt. They each had their own missions that held no room for love, which just caused more tension. They had some steamy moments, but it was a lot of innocent and jealous moments as well. I found Cal and Shadow endearing, I stayed for the romance plot and their interactions which I thoroughly enjoyed. The romance plot was strong while the rest of the story seemed to fall apart.

The main plot of The Queen’s Assassin is supposedly the Aphrasian uprising, a group of people with extra special magic hidden away from the rest of the world. They are out to kill the Queen and Princess, the why is unknown, and have a foothold in the Queens’ home kingdom of Montrice. The Aphrasians need to be stopped before they rise again and start another war. We really don’t know anything about the magic they wield, how it is different than that which Shadow wields, or what the scrolls they hide contain. The magic system is not explained at all. No clue how it works. There’s also some super special family line that is important but I’m unsure why. Also, were the Aphrasians bad people? Did they hurt people beyond killing the King in a war he declared? Unknown. Maybe that will be the focus of the second book, but I felt like, beyond the info-dump journal entries which sucked to get through and were the only parts that explained anything important, it should have been more of a focus.

Overall while I was unimpressed with a lot of the book, I enjoyed the romance and really liked Cal and Shadow. There is a second book, since this is a duology, but I think the romance portion was sufficiently wrapped up at the end of this book and I’m happy leaving it where it ended. I don’t think I’ll pick it up unless the rest of the plot is overhauled and either first or third perspective is used throughout the whole book.

2 responses to “ARC Review: The Queen’s Assassin”

  1. evelynreads1 Avatar

    Great review! I might check this one out, but since I see quite a lot of mediocre reviews, I’m not in a hurry


    1. Aubrey @ The Shelf Life Chronicles Avatar

      Yeah I was strictly in it for the romance aspect of it and I got what I came for but beyond that o had a hard time with it.

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