Escaping from the brutality of an arranged marriage, seventeen-year-old Ismae finds sanctuary at 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 be willing to take the lives of others.
Ismae's most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany, where she must pose as mistress to the darkly mysterious Gavriel Duval, who has fallen under a cloud of suspicion. Once there, she finds herself woefully underprepared--not only for the deadly games of love and intrigue, 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 was so intrigued by this book. A broken girl raised as an assassin who lives in a world where a version of the Greek gods and the Christian God coexist. So much potential! Throw in a romance between two people who do not want to be in love, and I thought sparks of originality and awesomeness would fly.
Unfortunately, they do not. While there are some interesting turns of event, the story is largely predictable. The good guys are too good, the main character is too good, and the bad guys are too evil. There are some attempts to add depth to character's motivations, but they were too little too late for me.
As for Ismae and Duval? Their's was not the romance I wanted. I love sparky dialogue, witty retorts, and suspicions of motivation. That wasn't here. They pretty quickly fell in love, and while it took a long time for them to get around to acknowledging it, we the readers see it right away. Not my favorite.
I did like the different layers of death portrayed, and the idea of someone acting on Death's behalf was interesting. Figuring out the difference between vengeance and mercy was pretty cool, although even that seemed to be summed up too neatly.
I guess this book wasn't as gritty as I wanted it to be. So if you don't want gritty and messy....you will probably like it!
Three out of five hidden crossbows.
Release Date: April 2012
Reading Level: Grade 9+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection: YPL LAF