"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?"- Summary by www.goodreads.com
9 1/2 out of 10 stars!
Wow. No words. This was officially my first experience with a historical fiction novel, which usually aren't my style, however this one really blew me away. I would be lying if i said I wasn't slightly put-off by the unappealing cover, nor did I enjoy the book trailer, but they really didn't do this novel justice. I seriously wasn't expecting to like this book, but I was hooked by page 5. This is probably the highest rated book that I have reviewed thus far.
Now, lets first establish that this novel is set in the Middle Ages. It took me a while to adjust to the eccentric archaic language (which I grew to love!), and the characters' outdated way of life. This book features monarchies, dukes, duchesses, fancy ball dresses, courteous manners and all that jazz! It makes me want to hop on a time machine and zip back to the medieval ages (but not staying for long because I REALLY don't want to end up coming home with the plague...).
So, who are the main characters? Ismae, the female protagonist, was a breath of fresh air for me. The choices she made and the thoughts she had were REAL. Her feelings were genuine, and her relationships with other characters were not forced. Her dangerous and boisterous persona was a rare feat in those days, and her imperfections only made me like her more.
Don't even get me started on Gavriel Duval. He is the poster of awesome. He has just the right amount of mysterious and charming, while at the same time is emotional and kind to Ismae. His bravery is admirable, and he captivates everyone around him with his deadly swagger. Gavriel + Ismae forever! Oh wow, I'm ranting, aren't I?
This novel has a steady cast of background characters, each with distinct and amicable personalities. None of the characters can be simply classified as "a good guy" or "a bad guy" per se, as they seem to be playing leap-frog in and out of the dark side. Ugh, so many mind games!
The character development is fan-freaking-tastic, and I admit to sobbing throughout the last chapter of the book. Like, non-stop. The way the author writes about death, even for minor characters, makes you want to rip your heart out. Bring tissues.
So, in conclusion, I severely recommend this novel, even if historical fiction isn't your usual pick. You will not be disappointed.
You are welcome to share your opinion in the comments!
- Daisy H