Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (April 3rd, 2012)
Hardcover: 549 pages
Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
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?
This book is a historical mystery, with court intrigue and it reads like a romance. Definitely right up my alley and while the book was not overtly amazing in any way, it was an interesting read with dashes of fantasy.
Ismae, an assassin for the convent of St. Mortain, a handmaiden of Death. I think that makes her pretty awesome, not to mention she has a gift that’s very useful to being an assassin. Ismae has her scars (physically and mentally) but she’s willing to do what needs to get done even if that means getting her hands dirty and doing the unconventional thing. Her lack of “feminine wiles” made me laugh a bit though with her relationship with Gavriel Duval, the man who she if forced to work with for better or worse. I think that’s what made it read so much like a (historical) romance (her somewhat lack of male-female relations I will call it) but at the same time it kind of contradicts her persona of an independent bad-ass assassin. Not to say that I didn’t like Ismae and Duval’s relationship, on the contrary I actually enjoyed seeing their relationship develop from mutual dislike and distrust to something worthwhile.
The overall court mystery plot of the book was good. There’s the hints of romance, the lies and depictions, the old Lord buggar who wants to marry the young beautiful duchess, the political scandals, and a brink of war teetering on finding the right marriage alliance. But it definitely would have been nice to see a little more conspiring, plotting, and assassinations. It’s a liked it well enough, 3 hidden daggers out of 5. On a good day, 4.
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