This review can also be found at Carole's Random LifeI received an advance reader edition of this book from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt via Net Galley for the purpose of providing an honest review.
I loved this book. I was totally sucked into the story and could have easily read it from beginning to end without stopping. Unfortunately, my life dictated that I had to take breaks for things like sleep, work, and children. It seemed so unfair to be stuck at work while I had a book begging me to finish it at home. I could not get this book out of my mind when I was not reading it - It was really that good.
I thought that the writing in this book was phenomenal. It drew me into the story and I could not help but like Ismae almost instantly. I loved the way that the author injects just a small amount of humor into the writing every once in a while even though this book is in no way a funny book.
"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."
The characters in this book have a lot of spunk and show a lot of growth during the story. Ismae's life was difficult prior to arriving at the convent. She quickly embraces the training at the convent and cannot wait for an assignment. Once she is given an assignment, she is determined to excel. She is assigned to a very important task focused on keeping the duchess safe which requires her to be paired with Duval. The longer she is on the assignment the more she realizes that everything may not be as simple as she had once thought.
"One heart cannot serve two masters."
The longer Ismae and Duval work together they more they start to feel towards each other. I was so happy to read a Young Adult novel that did not focus on a love triangle. Not only was the love triangle absent, there was no insta-love. This pair actually spend time with each other and get to know each other before any feelings develop. Once feeling develop it does become a major part of the story but it does not take over the book. I actually think that the romance in this book adds to the overall story.
"And while it is more than I ever dared dream, it is nowhere near enough."
I was instantly drawn to the overall concept of the book. Who wouldn't love the idea of assassin nuns? The fact that this book is set in the 1400's seemed perfect to me. Once I started reading the story and came across some of the special gifts that Ismae possess, it was even better since I love anything with a touch of paranormal. I did not expect this book to be quite as political as it is but I liked that aspect of the story while it may become a bit tedious for some readers. I do have to say that the book did drag just a bit about 3/4 of the way through for me but it quickly picked right back up. I thought the conclusion was very exciting and I was pleased with how the book ended.
I do plan to continue with this trilogy. In fact, the second book, Dark Triumph, is already loaded on my kindle ready for its turn. This was the first chance I have had to read anything by Robin LaFevers but it will most certainly not be my last. I would definitely recommend this book to others and feel that it is appropriate for most older teen readers.