An Excellent 'Intro to Fantasy' Read!

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Thank you so much to BookishFirst and Penguin Teen for the ARC of The Queen's Assassin by Melissa de la Cruz!

I had mixed feelings about this book. It is a quick and uncomplicated read with a decent plot, and likeable enough characters. An adventurous girl wants to follow in her mother's footsteps and join a guild of assassins and magic keepers that helps to protect the Queen's line. Her family disagrees so she takes off to free the Queen's Assassin from prison - an interesting plot - and become his apprentice. So far I am all about this premise, right?

I am a little surprised that Caledon, the assassin, didn't carry the first person POV, as the book IS titled The Queen's Assassin. He ended up being the secondary character and was told from the third person POV. The characters are more comparable to SJM's assassins than, say, Weeks' - as in lovestruck and tend to not act like very good assassins. Although the reader is TOLD quite repetitively that Cal is the deadliest out there, we don't see it much. I saw more angsty teen romance than assassin-and-apprentice. Think Throne of Glass more than Mistborn if that makes sense from an assassin standpoint
My other point of contention is the villain: oh my god he could have been so interesting. The concept of the magic he was doing would have been great to read about, maybe his history, even a small hint that this creature existed would have helped make the reveal more believable... but the twist was thrown on us with no information provided prior, and only a hint at his actual power at the end of the book. There is a second book planned, so I hops for answers but I am still bummed that the book focused more on the angsty romance than the assassin or most powerful entity in the land. Why even bother dropping that bit and then hardly explore it? I felt like the big twists were just "eh"s, but 100% will read the next book because I want to know all the answers.
The last thing to always touch on in fantasy is the world building. The history given was short and concise and set the story pretty well. I felt like the customs, food, social constructs, and architecture of Montrice was really well written, but not so much for Renovia. The magic system was entirely glazed over, I can understand the natural elements but I hope we find out more about the scrolls, magic, shape shifter, and inherent powers of the Dellafiores in book 2.
I do still recommend the series though, at least for teenaged readers and those wanting an easy/intro to fantasy series. There are few clean books in that niche and I think it's a good option? Thank you again so much to Penguin Teen and Bookish first for the ARC!!