Author: R.L. LaFevers
Published: April 3rd 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Source: Publisher via Netgalley
Description: Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf? 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 Give This ...
Oh man was I looking forward to this. Assassin nuns in medieval Brittany, yes please. I love historical fiction and this sounded like just that mixed with a little bit of spunk. Sadly, I think I missed something. It was nearly as good as I had built it up to be.
I think I had Ismae's character held to a higher stander. Being a female assassin with her set of circumstances behind her, I just didn't expect her to fall in love as easily as she did. I really thought she would have more of an internal struggle. She's been through some pretty extreme things that would cause her to dislike men. Duval is the first man she's had any real contact with outside of the convent and she falls for him. Seems a little too convenient. I struggled with this fact a lot because I liked Duval too.
I liked the historical and political parts. The intrigue with who the duchess might marry and the pull for political power was intense. I was intrigued that Duval was so involved with the court considering who he was. He would do anything to protect the duchess even at the expense of his own life. I think that's probably what makes Ismae so willing to overlook everything she's ever promised herself. But, there's almost too much information presented. It a really long book, and some of the details really drag it down. I'm not looking for a historical fiction to rival in length to the Outlander series. I think the story could have been told in much fewer pages.
I think I was most disappointed in the lack of actual assassinating. Sure, its there a little bit. But, I wanted more of it. We barely get a glimpse of this life that Ismae has been trained for. I enjoyed that we so much of her knowledge of poisons and how it pertains to her work. I also liked how she becomes more than just a handmaiden of death.
I will probably still read the next in the series. I'm curious as to what Ismae might do with her new knowledge of death and how she can play a part in it. Plus, I'm curious as to what might happen with the romance between her and Duval