Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format: Hardcover (ARC)
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Summary (from Goodreads): 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?
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
My Summary: When her drunkard, scheming father sells her to the highest bidder, Ismae is relieved to be out of his house and away from his wild temper and abuse. But her husband turns out to be the same kind of brutish, abusive person as her father, and Imae's hope for a peaceful life is gone before it can even take root. But she needn't have worried - the moment her husband sees her birthmark - the sign of Death himself - he throws her in the cellar and runs off to fetch a priest. Rescued by a monk and the nun who brought her into the world, Ismae is secretly transported from her husband's house to a convent where the power of Death is recognized - Ismae has that power, and the sisters want to train her as an assassin of Death. If she accepts their offer, she will become extremely powerful and deadly to her enemies... but can she do the work of Death if it means killing the man she loves?
My Thoughts: I know this novel has been hyped up quite a bit lately, and usually I don't believe the hype... but this one deserved every bit of it.
Ismae is such a kick-ass character - I love the idea of female assassins in a world ruled by men. Her growth in this novel is measurable - the contrast between her in the first few chapters and her after her training is remarkable. She's also very easy to like - her wit and dry humour make for a great combination in a main character.
I also really liked the setting, and the blend of history and paranormal elements made for a great read. The slow build-up of the romance kept me hooked, and it wasn't long before I was flipping the last few pages of this sizable book.
Final Thoughts: I definitely recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, romance, or anything of the paranormal variety.