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Young Adult Fiction 1185
3 Reasons to Read YEAR OF THE REAPER
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Lord Cassia "Cas" was imprisoned for three years after being ambushed by enemy soldiers. When the plague took everyone in his camp but him, he was able to escape and make the journey to his home, unsure of what he would find there. Upon his return, he finds the king and queen with their new baby are staying at his estate, and it seems like there is an assassin on the loose trying to take out the baby prince. Together with young historian Lena, they will have to find out who is endangering the fragile peach brought with the queen and baby before it's too late.

1.) The protagonist- I absolutely love Cas. He is sarcastic, slightly broody, loyal, and has a huge heart, even if he tries to push it away on occasion. From his time imprisoned and from all the death around him from the plague, he carries significant trauma. He loves his home, his brother, and their community, but he is still challenged to find the right place for himself after everything. I loved getting to see him slowly heal and adjust to new life.

2.) The romance- The romance is not the central plot, but it is a fantastic and torturous slow burn. Lena and Cas has chemistry immediately (she steals his horse; he saves her life), but there is so much going on around them that romance doesn't have much space. Still, they gradually get to know each other while on missions to unravel clues about the assassin. While both still have their own healing to do, they find a beautiful companionship in each other.

3.) The mystery- The author does an incredible job setting up an engaging, ever evolving mystery. Even when you think you're sure who the culprit is, everything is turned on its head. There is a great tension throughout the story because the marriage between the king and queen (and their new baby prince) is the only thing that sealed the peace between their two countries, and the assassin could be out to wreck that peace and bring the war back to two already death torn countries. I was on the edge of my seat the entire last third of the book.

YEAR OF THE REAPER is an underappreciated gem of YA fantasy. This was the first Makiia Lucier book I've read, and I'm thrilled to have a backlist of their books to dive into now.
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