Author: Robin LaFevers.
Published: April 3rd 2012.
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Sort: Book 1 of ‘His fair assassin’
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?
Ismae wears the sign of Death on her body. Her mother tried to lose her from her womb with poison, but Ismae survived. She grew up under hard circumstances. Her father was abusive and he married her off to another horrible man. When he sees the scar on her back, he is horrified by her and he wants to have her executed. Ismae is rescued by the priest who married her and he ships her off to the convent of St. Mortain, the patron Saint of Death. Here, Ismae becomes one of the handmaidens of Death and her gift is poison.
After years of practice Ismae is assigned to her first task and that is how she meets Gavriel Duval. I love this guy. He is definitely swoonworthy. He is not the perfect-pretty-guy, but that’s what I liked about him. He is real because of his flaws and he sounds super attractive. The scenes between him and Ismae were filled with sexy tension. She is afraid in the beginning, but slowly she starts to see that he is a good and loyal guy.
Duval is the bastard son of the duke and the French whore. That makes him the half-brother of the new Duchess, Anne. This girl is in serious trouble. The French are on the borders, waiting to take over Brittain, and several man are asking for her hand. She must make a decision soon or everything is lost. Ismae must keep an eye on Duval for the convent, because they think he is a traitor. They are afraid that he wants to take the duchy for himself. When Ismae starts to unravel the real identity of the traitor, she decides to act against the convent. She is starting to understand that she can use her gift in other ways and it might be time to leave the convent behind.
This girl is perfect. She is everything I could ask for in a main character. She is smart, strong and feisty. A real kick-ass girl and I admire her strength, physically and mentally. There is also the amazing Duval and some other great secondary characters, like Beast. The character development is good. Ismae goes from blind trust in her convent to making her own decisions by using her head. The feelings between Duval and Ismae are sweet and there is enough time to develop. The world-building is good. There is a lot of history and politics in this story, but I wasn’t bored at all. The writing-style was so addictive and I can’t wait for the next book. I need it now!
”Not all men are the same, you know. with someone such as Gavriel, I would suggest appearing aloof, not chasing too much. He might see that as suffocating rather than charming.” Her words are sharp, but her voice is sweet, like honey on the edge of a blade, and meant to be cutting. I comfort myself with the knowledge that if Duval ever feels smothered by me, it will be because I am holding a pillow over his face and commending his soul to Mortain.