Top 10 YA Fantasy Books With Assassins You Have to Read

Lurking beneath the cloak of darkness, assassins intrigue and unsettle us. Whether the protagonist is a mature veteran assassin or a young brilliant one, these stories promise action, danger and suspense.

So are you curious what assassin tales the Young Adult (YA) Fantasy genre has to offer? If so, you’re in luck!

Here are 10 best YA fantasy books with assassins you have to read:

I’ve included book descriptions, readers’ ratings and summaries of positive and negative comments for each book below. On the other hand, if you’d like a quick summary, here’s a comparison chart.

And for assassins coming from the Fantasy genre, here’s a list of exciting stories to see.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas


After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Book cover of Throne of Glass

Her opponents are thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom. 

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating.

But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead…quickly followed by another.

Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.22

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

First on our list of YA fantasy books with assassins is Throne of Glass. What did readers who loved this novel say? These readers came in expecting a Young Adult fantasy book alive with lighthearted adventure. They weren’t disappointed!

Many enthused about the story’s wonderful humor, romance and action. These fans characterized Throne of Glass as an exciting tale that delighted them with its formidable, highly-skilled assassin protagonist.

Negative Comments

Throne of Glass readers who expected a darker and serious take on the premise, though, didn’t enjoy the story. According to the author, the book’s inspiration was Cinderella and the story’s light take on being an assassin and its romance reflects these roots.

In particular, these readers disliked the fact that Celaena’s brutal past as a slave at the start of the novel didn’t seem to effect her significantly. They also mentioned that the trials and battles weren’t enough of a focus, with several skipped rather than shown through action.

Shadowblade by N.S. Mirage


Born and raised in a secret enclave of assassins, Aeryn knows one desire, one duty and one calling: serve the enclave. Her initiation is days away. Once she undertakes it, she’ll be a full-fledged master, devoted to the way of sword and shadow until her last days. She should be honored.

Instead, she can only remember questions that haunted her for years. Desperate for answers, Aeryn breaks the enclave’s highest rule: never leave its walls unaccompanied.

Soon, she collides with the hostile and mysterious Outside world, as well as a young knight who’s as eager to shirk his duties as she is to obey hers.

She may learn that being a great warrior means more than her masters taught her. But at what cost?

What Do Readers Say?

Positive Comments

Second on our list of YA fantasy books with assassins is ShadowbladeWith electric-fast pacing and immersive atmosphere, this short coming of age story gripped fans from the first page.

Readers enthused over the story’s ability to transport them into its scenes, saying that the mystique of the assassins’ powers, the sights and scents of the surroundings, and the suspense of the battle scenes came through.

In addition, fans praised Shadowblade’s characters. Not only did the character cast come across as multidimensional, but readers were touched to see how Aeryn and Merric learned from each other in their adventure together. On top of that, the hints of romance between them captured fans’ imaginations and brought smiles to their faces.

Negative Comments

If readers didn’t enjoy Shadowbladewhat did they say?

For the most part, critics had two reasons for disliking it. The first was that the book was short, a novella instead of a novel. While it wrapped up the story’s threads, it also ended on somewhat of a cliffhanger. These readers wanted the story to expand beyond where it left off.

Kingdom of Ash and Soot by C.S. Johnson


Everyone Lies. 

PRAGUE, 1870.

For the last ten years, nineteen-year-old Eleanora Svobodová has worked as a servant in her stepmother’s household. Along with her older brother, she dreams of the day they will be free to live life on their own terms.

But everything changes when their estranged grandmother comes to Prague on behalf of Queen Victoria. Throughout Bohemia, a string of murders and secret whispers hint at a larger coup.

As the leader of the Order of the Crystal Daggers, an ancient order of spies and soldiers that protect kingdoms and their rulers, Lady Penelope is determined to discover the perpetrators.

Now, Eleanora must make the choice between a life of intrigue and saving the lives of others.

Can Eleanora find a way do the right thing and still find freedom?

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.18

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Third on our list of YA fantasy books with assassins is The Kingdom of Ash and Soot. Readers said that this story’s refreshing setting as well as its twist on the classic Cinderella tale and its characters enchanted them.

Action-packed and atmospheric, Eleanora’s journey from servant girl to deadly assassin immediately had fans wondering what would happen next. They also mentioned that The Kingdom of Ash and Soot features a sweet, banter-filed romance that made them truly feel for the couple.

Negative Comments

If readers didn’t enjoy The Kingdom of Ash and Soot, they typically said it was because the story slowed in the middle.

Others, though, mentioned that they were bothered by Eleanora’s naivete. These readers expected her to outgrow this by the end of the book and were disappointed that she didn’t.

The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas


Celaena Sardothien is Adarlan’s most feared assassin. As part of the Assassin’s Guild, her allegiance is to her master, Arobynn Hamel, yet Celaena listens to no one and trusts only her fellow killer-for-hire, Sam.

In these action-packed novellas – together in one edition for the first time – Celaena embarks on five daring missions. They take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, where she fights to liberate slaves and seeks to avenge the tyrannous.

But she is acting against Arobynn’s orders and could suffer an unimaginable punishment for such treachery. Will Celaena ever be truly free?

Explore the dark underworld of this kick-ass heroine to find out.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.37

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Fourth on our list of YA fantasy books with assassins is The Assassin’s Bladea collection of prequel novellas to Sarah J. Maas’ popular Throne of Glass series. Fans of this collection praised the stories’ action, exciting protagonist and beautiful tragic romance.

Jam-packed with wild adventure, The Assassin’s Blade had readers breathless and on the edge of their seats. Sometimes they were laughing, swooning or crying – whatever the case may be, they were completely absorbed in this book’s tale.

Related to that, fans described Celaena as a fantastic female protagonist. She came across as a ruthless assassin as well as vulnerable and human. For readers of the Throne of Glass series, seeing her before the events of the first book and how her life had shaped her was a treat.

Finally, readers commented on the romance between her and Sam. Without giving away spoilers, they described it as beautiful and heart-wrenching. Fans were invested from page one. Throughout its highs and the lows, the relationship made them feel deeply.

Negative Comments

No book is without its critics, so what did these readers say about The Assassin’s Blade?

For the most part, these readers had two reasons for disliking the book. The first was Celaena, who they described as too self-entitled and selfish for them to connect with and like her.

The second was her relationship with Sam. Critics describe her as treating him terribly, saying that if the genders had been reversed, readers would have decried their relationship as toxic.

Assassin’s Apprentice by S.R. Vaught and J.B. Redmond


In Eyrie — a world of two moons, shapeshifters, and powerful magic — Aron of Brailing knows he owes loyalty to his guild, obedience to the code of the land, and his life to his closest companions, but it is his own family he holds closest to his heart.

Kidnapped and forced to become an assassin, Aron must learn to control and harness his own fearsome talents even as he grieves for the family he knows is lost forever. But when he is tempted to put everything aside everything he has learned in order to avenge his family’s killers, will Aron make unforgivable mistakes?

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.95

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

Next on our list of YA fantasy books with assassins is Assassin’s ApprenticeThis novel especially delighted assassin fans, but also treated readers to a story full of action, excitement and a relatable protagonist.

Several described the story as having so many elements that they liked: battles, magic, monsters, dragons, redemption and more. Taking them along the story’s journey was Aron, a main character who they described as easy to empathized with. In particular, these readers said that his reactions and experience with grief, anger and pain felt authentic and deeply engrossed than in his journey.

Negative Comments

If readers didn’t enjoy Assassin’s Apprentice, what did they say?

In general, readers commented that the story had action, but not much suspense. Some readers didn’t feel a sense of danger or stakes, while others felt that the characters made artificial decisions. Rather than making decisions that seemed true to who they were, the characters seemed to make choices based on the needs of the plot.

On the other hand, other critics said that the book featured too many classic fantasy story elements. While fans praised this, saying everything they loved was in the story, these readers felt that it either made the story feel cliché or underdeveloped. In terms of the latter, this was because critics thought the story couldn’t give each element enough attention.

City of Whispers by Katt Powers


A disgraced assassin. A sinister conspiracy. Will her one shot at redemption be her last?

Dhani Karim is furious. Wrongfully expelled from the Imperial Assassins, the snarky killer is forced into a lowly, unranked position in a remote desert colony, working with a guy who’s clearly damaged goods. It’s hate at first sight. And when they barely survive an attack on what should have been a routine assignment, Dhani fears clearing her name could cost her life.

Struggling to navigate a land where she’s the only person who can’t wield magic, things get worse when she receives a death threat and her unwanted partner vanishes. But when the clues lead to a violent cult, Dhani finds herself in a race against time to stop a bloodbath that will consume thousands of innocent lives.

Can she expose a deadly conspiracy before it causes a massacre?

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.08

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

Another story on our list of YA fantasy books with assassins is City of Whispers by Katt Powers. A fast-paced, action-packed treat for lovers of assassins, this novel grabbed fans from the very first page.

Moreover, readers praised the story for its main character, Dhani. Describing her as witty, likeable and easy to connect with, they said she was a fantastic anti-hero to lead City of Whispers.

On top of that, fans pointed to the book’s world-building as a highlight to the tale. Well-developed and immersive, the Middle Eastern-inspired world and culture struck readers as refreshing. It was a delight for them to learn the different facets and customs with each new page.

Negative Comments

If readers didn’t enjoy City of Whispers, what did they say?

Overall, critics either said that they felt the world-building was confusing due to its complexity, or that it took them a while to feel invested in the characters.

Nightblade by Ryan Kirk


Ryuu is a boy orphaned by violence at a young age. Found by a wandering warrior, he learns he may have more strength than he ever imagined possible. 

A quiet child, Moriko is forced into a monastic system she despises. Torn from her family and the forest she grew up in, she must fight to learn the skills she’ll need to survive her tutelage under the realm’s most dangerous assassin. 

Young, beautiful, and broke, Takako is sold to pay for her father’s debts. Thrust into a world she doesn’t understand and battles she didn’t ask for, she must decide where her loyalties lie. 

When their lives crash together in a Kingdom on the brink of war, the decisions they make will change both their lives and their Kingdom forever. 

If they can stay alive. 

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating4.04

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

Next on our list of YA fantasy books with assassins is Nightblade. This novel intrigued fans with its supernatural, Eastern-inspired fantasy world and captivating plot. 

Fans praised the book’s immersive quality and its world-building. With its evocative writing, the story’s atmosphere and setting came vividly alive.

Other readers said that they were captivated by the story itself from the start. In particular, they said that the personal journeys that the main characters went through fascinated them, and seeing them learn and grow was a treat. 

Negative Comments

What did critics say? In general, readers who didn’t enjoy Nightblade had two reasons.

The first was that they were either drawn out of the story due to editing-related issues. Some of them mentioned that the book had repeating phrases, for instance, that broke their immersion. Others said they detected spelling or grammar mistakes.

On the other hand, others said that they didn’t feel like they got to know the characters. This made it difficult to connect with them, especially during climactic moments.

Soul of the Crow by Jessaca Willis


When a mortal wants someone dead, they contract a Reaper of Veltuur, an individual born from the underrealm with fatal magic coursing through their veins.

Sinisa is one of them.

For three years, she’s slain her targets dutifully with the aid of her crow familiar. She only needs one more kill to ascend as a Shade, a coveted status of power. And when the King of Oakfall requests a Reaper to execute his daughter for an unforgivable crime, Sinisa is first to volunteer for the job.

It should be easy.

But when the Prince of Oakfall discovers his sister is in danger, he flees the palace with her. Sinisa is left with only two options: journey through the mortal realm to find and slay her mark, or face the consequences of returning to the underrealm empty-handed. It’s no choice at all. She has come too far and is too close to earning her title to let it be taken away from her now.

Besides, no one can outrun a Reaper of Veltuur.

Or can they…

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.84

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

Another story on our list of YA fantasy books with assassins is Soul of the CrowThis novel delighted fans with its unpredictable twists, turns and its unique, dark world.

Whether it was the secrets, betrayals, revelations or something else, Soul of the Crow was full of suspense and drama. Fans described the escalating stakes, danger and surprises as keeping them on the edges of their seats the entire time.

On top of that, many enthused over the book’s original world, saying that it was refreshing and attention-grabbing. 

Negative Comments

What did critics say? For the most part, these readers pointed to either the process for beginning a Reaper or Acari, the story’s second most prominent character.

In terms of the former, critics said that the Reaper process seemed unrealistic. For instance, several mentioned that if killing anything turned one into a Reaper, someone would become a Reaper by accidentally killing a mosquito, ant or other bug.

Acari, on the other hand, grated on some readers, who described him as reckless or over-emotional.

A Storm of Silver and Ash by Marion Blackwood


What would you sacrifice to save your friend? 

Your soul? Your humanity? Your life?

The Oncoming Storm is a name whispered in awe throughout the Underworld. She’s known as a master thief and a lethal knife-wielder – some even say she has the skills of an assassin. All of it is true. She’s also a sarcastic smartmouth with the social graces of a bull. 

You will find her running across rooftops, sneaking in the shadows, and breaking into houses. That is, if she’s not busy getting ambushed and blackmailed into a seemingly impossible mission.

Grudgingly caught in a dangerous power struggle, the Oncoming Storm must leave behind the world she knows and maneuver through scheming assassins, calculating elves, and desperate royals. 

Before her adventure is over, she will have loved, saved, killed, and double-crossed those around her. The only question is, who? The clock is ticking, and before time runs out, the Oncoming Storm must decide who to trust and who to betray…

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.92

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Another story on our list of YA fantasy books with assassins is A Storm of Silver and Ash. Several fans mentioned that the story mixed all the tropes they loved about fantasy together, while adding a refreshing modern tone. 

Overall, this novel grabbed readers with its fast-pace and engaging main character, Storm. Fans tended to describe her as witty, cheerful and brave. Her personality, background and motives came across clearly to them, and these readers found her easy to bond with.

Negative Comments

What did critics say about A Storm of Silver and Ash?

Overall, these readers said that the book’s tendency to break the fourth wall made it difficult to immerse themselves in the story. Other than that, several didn’t connect with Storm, saying she came across as harsh.

The Mortal Blade by Christopher Mitchell


A city ruled by Gods, a mortal champion, a misfit girl and a disobedient dragon…

Stolen from his home, Corthie Holdfast has arrived in the City of the Eternal Siege as a new Champion.

He must fight alongside the Blades, whose lives are dedicated to the defence of the City against the hordes of monstrous Greenhides; or die at the hands of the Gods who rule.

Maddie Jackdaw, a young Blade, faces her last chance. Thrown out of every unit defending the City, either she takes on a new role, or she will be sent to the Rats, a company of misfits given the perilous tasks beyond the Great Walls.

Her new role, if she takes it, will bring her face to face with her deepest fears, for beneath the walls, in a secret and hidden lair, lies a dragon, imprisoned and waiting…

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.27

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Last on our list of YA fantasy books with assassins is The Mortal BladeFilled with intrigue, suspense and riveting characters, this novel kept fans spellbound.

These readers described the story as featuring several favorite fantasy elements: dragons, gods, betrayals, civil wars and more. Yet despite its complexity, the plot threads seamlessly connected. On top of that, fans described the overall book as fast-paced and gripping, a tale that easily kept them racing through its pages.

They also praised The Mortal Blade’s character cast, which several described as a highlight. The entire cast came across as multidimensional and ‘alive’, whether that be the major and minor characters, or the male and female characters.

Negative Comments

If readers didn’t like The Mortal Blade, what did they say? For the most part, they either said that the beginning of the book was slow-paced or they didn’t connect to the characters.

In terms of the latter, some critics said that the characters’ emotions seemed to happen all of a sudden rather than develop organically. As such, they perceived the characters as artificial and found it difficult to get invested in them.

Top 10 YA Fantasy Books With Assassins You Have to Read

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10 Best YA Fantasy Books With Assassins You Have to Read

N.S. Mirage

I'm Natalie, an avid fantasy reader here to help readers find exciting, otherworldly books.

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