By Robin LaFevers
Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.
Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?
I was actually really excited about starting this book. The plot was intriguing and just what I needed to get a break from the dystopian genre that overwhelms the bookshelves of every teen fiction aisle. A teenager scorned by men in her youth and trained in an abbey on how to kill them? Pretty freaking awesome.
However the heroine, didn’t live up to all my expectations. She was quick to question her mission or purpose, and fell to easily under her abrasive but charming companions spell. She wasn’t the badass heroine I had envisioned, however she did have many redeeming qualities. She knew her way around poisons, could definitely hold her own in a fight and was quick to uncover and navigate the hidden agendas of the queen’s court. However she was constantly out of her element, fumbling and stumbling more than she was backstabbing and seducing.
Ok I said a lot of negative things so far, but the truth is I read the entirety of the book in one sitting, barely putting it down to eat or go to the bathroom. The book was what I expected from a historical young adult novel, yet I couldn’t put it down. There was intrigue, mystery, plotting, arranged marriages, murder and romance.
The plot wasn’t predictable, the characters were easy to like and the story flowed efficiently. It was a successful read and I would recommend it to those who are looking for a healthy dose of romance and intrigue.
This novel was based in the middle ages and gave me a different opinion on the stereotypical lives of women in the middle ages. This book was an excellent change from the dystopian novel that i’ve read so much of. I thought that Ismae was a good character although she wasn’t a typical strong female character. She demonstrated that she could think for herself which so many women that were trained as assassins can’t do, they just follow out orders. This was an intriguing aspect to Ismae’s character although it was overused throughout the novel. It seemed as though every order given to her by the abbey was put under constant examination from every possible angle. I also thought that the relationship in the novel was extremely slow moving and that time was not represented well. It seemed as though she was sure that she liked the Duke but we were’t told how much and then the next minute she can’t live with out him. I didn’t enjoy how Ismae seemed to only be trained in assassination by poison. She could hold her own in a fight but only to the same extent as another well trained army man. The novel could have greatly been improved had Ismae obtained further training from the abbey about fighting and self defence. Overall this was a good novel although it lacked a certain compelling aspect to it, i was not constantly engaged in the novel i found my self distracted quite a few times while reading the novel.