My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
THANK YOU TO NET GALLEY AND HOUGHTON MIFFLIN HARCOURT FOR ALLOWING ME TO REVIEW THIS BOOK AND GIVE MY HONEST OPINION
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?
.....and then arrives a book that absolutely blows you away. Even after the first chapter I knew I would be giving this book a high rating. The writing style is wonderful and draws you in instantly. The premise of the story starts off with a harrowing event that immediately makes you like Ismae and hate all the men so far. Her life is terrible and can only get worse when someone surprisingly saves her and takes her to the convent of Saint Mortain. A place she was destined to go to.
The convent is one with a difference. The revered Saint Mortain is the Saint of Death. And Ismae is one of Death's daughters having survived her mothers abortive attempt on her life. Ismae still bears the scars inside and out and the convent offers her a way out of her trauma. Become a novice, learn about fighting, poisons, the womanly arts, do Saint Mortains deeds and she can take her vows but only after she completes three assignments. Her first assignment goes well, kind of. Her second assignment goes the same way. Her third?
When Gavriel Duval comes to the convent she dislikes him immensely. She must pretend to be his mistress and learn the secrets from within the his household. Duval thinks she's there to gain knowledge of the royalty, who is the traitor and who is conspiring against the duchess. Actually Ismae is sent to spy on Duval himself and learn his secrets.
Their relationship isn't easy. She has little trust for men in general. He appears to dislike her skills and thinks her too young for fulfilling her task. But soon, when the duchess life is threatened and a whole host of people could be blamed Ismae and Duval must work together to uncover the plot.
I was surprised that this is aimed at the Young Adult audience. Yes, Ismae is young and perfectly fits the criteria for a gutsy protagonist. The writing is fluid, beautiful even. And Duval certainly gets more amiable as the book continues. My reservations are with the story itself. Even I found it a little harder to remember who was good, who was bad, and who was downright untrustworthy. The story itself became a little more complicated in places. However, the overall story is gripping, thought-provoking and a wonderful example of empowered women.
This is one that you MUST add to your 'to be read' pile and read soon. You'll be glad you did!