Houghton Mifflin Books, 560 pages
"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?"
I first saw this book while shopping at Barnes and Noble with my fellow bloggers. The cover was majorly epic and I am a historical fiction freak. So, naturally, when I saw the book at my local library, I checked it out to read it while lounging poolside at my house.
Within the first thirty pages, I was hooked!! This was a book that was virtually impossible to put down!! I read it in three days not only because I loved it, but because the narrowness of the pages makes it easy to fly through.
Being a lover of historical fiction, I found the fact that a girl from the 1400s who was a matron of Death very interesting. You get a small amount of a science fiction-ish concept with all of the fashion descriptions and vintage language of a historical fiction book.
The romance is another fabulous surprise. Although subtle in the beginning, the relationship between the lead characters, Ismae and Duval, is charming and, at times, steamy. The way the author slowly creates an alliance between these two characters that evolves into a smoldering courtship is genius! The reader can't help but read on to figure out what happens next in their relationship!
The aspect and presence of Death as a character in this book is beyond interesting, as well! The only other book I've read that involves Death as a character was The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. While there are drastic differences between the two interpretations, they share an incredible depth into the thoughts of Death and how people view it. Throw into the mix a girl from poverty as Death's servant and you have a compelling subject. Ismae is not only a strong heroine, but she also is caring, smart, and compassionate. She is a woman that female readers will want to be. I adored this book and I can hardly wait for the continuation of the trilogy!
Rating: 5 stars - I loved it! Buy a copy!