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?
Kat Kennedy: Okay, so Stephanie and I have read the first quarter of the book and we meet now in an epic battle of wills to discuss, with righteous fury, our reading experience.
Stephanie Sinclair: My will shall be STRONG!
Kat Kennedy: Alright, madam strong will, what do you think so far?
Stephanie Sinclair: I really like it so far, shocking, I know! The main character Ismae is deeply flawed, but I like her.
Kat Kennedy: Deeply flawed? Really? How so?
Stephanie Sinclair: Well, with her classifying all men as evil. I can’t blame her too much because of her past, but I can see it being her weak point. I think it’s a good thing, though. She has a lot of room for character development.
Kat Kennedy: Before we go on, what time period is this set in? Is it the French Regence period?
I mean, I’m not that big on French history – to which this book constantly alludes, so I’m having trouble placing it.
Stephanie Sinclair: It’s before Britain was its own country. That’s all I gather. I can’t remember the actual time, though. <—- Interjection from Stephanie: This is the part where I have no idea what I’m talking about and realize a few hours later how horribly wrong I was. Eh. Fail.
Kat Kennedy: Errrr….<—-The point at which Kat realizes she’s asked the wrong person.
See, it’s really hard to place. There’s mention of anatomy charts – well, that has to be after 1500’s. Then they keep referring to the French Regency. Is it THE French Regence period? I remember that being around 1700.
1720+ or something like that. It’s confusing. It’s BOTHERING ME!
Stephanie Sinclair: I have no idea. I wasn’t even thinking about that. Sit back and enjoy the story!
Kat Kennedy: I can’t! I have to know!
Stephanie Sinclair: Google.
Kat Kennedy: Well, I’m not that invested. So you like the character of Ismae.
What else do you like so far?
Stephanie Sinclair: Yes, I also really like the Duval (? I’m so terrible with spelling foreign names!).
Kat Kennedy: *face plant* Duval is really not foreign.
Stephanie Sinclair: This is a judge-free zone. Lol. <— Another interjection from the Empty One: Duval is French and I am American. It’s foreign to *me*.
Kat Kennedy: Okay, okay! But you spelled that one right!
Stephanie Sinclair: What did you like?
Kat Kennedy: Did you like Duval the character – THE Duval, or something in your head that you made up?
Stephanie Sinclair: Lol, I liked his character, but it’s still pretty early. I could grow to hate him. Ha!
Kat Kennedy: Yeah…I’m not really digging it so far. I DON’T like Duval as a character and I’m frustrated with some of Ismae’s characteristics.
Stephanie Sinclair: What?!?!?!?!?!?!
Kat Kennedy: Nun of death wreaking violence and vengeance on those whom her patron saint/God has chosen – awesome. Virginal, naive prude… not so much.
Stephanie Sinclair: Lol, she is a prude, but look at her background! She was abused by her father and her newly husband beat her.
Kat Kennedy: It just feels like, in YA, you can be a fearsome murder-nun of death and still be acceptable – but have a little premarital nookie nookie? No way. Can’t have that.
Stephanie Sinclair: Explain.
Kat Kennedy: You’re a total slut then- and not a heroine either.
Stephanie Sinclair: Ah, I see.
Kat Kennedy: Where are the people I can relate to?
Stephanie Sinclair: I think that plays into the time period, though.
Kat Kennedy: Really?! Really?! She’s a pig farmers daughter. <— *Ahem* She’s actually a turnip farmer’s daughters. >_>
Stephanie Sinclair: So?
Kat Kennedy: Have you ever been to the country?
Stephanie Sinclair: Country as in farms? <— No, the city. *sigh* The fail is string with us today.
Kat Kennedy: There is literally nothing else to do but knock boots.
Stephanie Sinclair: Lol! But no one is going to sit and talk about it.
Kat Kennedy: Look, I’m not saying it’s not unrealistic that she’s a virgin at 18.
That’s NOT what I’m saying. What I’m saying is that I’ve already read this character in a hundred other novels and I find myself lacking in interest or sympathy. I’m sick of the naive, virginal heroine. Been there, done that, got the chastity belt.
Stephanie Sinclair: She actually has a good reason for beings virgin, unlike most heroines.
Kat Kennedy: Yeah, kind of. I like her anti-men sentiment.
Stephanie Sinclair: She was in an all-girl abbey.
Kat Kennedy: Have you never been a catholic school?
Stephanie Sinclair: Nope, never have. But I’ve heard the rumors.
Kat Kennedy: I’ve been to an all girl’s catholic school – it fostered my life-long adoration of being a complete slut.
Stephanie Sinclair: Lol!
Kat Kennedy: What I do like is the implications that her convent may or may not be evil.
Stephanie Sinclair: Yes! I like that as well, which is why I like Duval. He questions it.
Kat Kennedy: I meant do not, sorry. I don’t like it.
Stephanie Sinclair: Why not?
Kat Kennedy: I don’t like the lack of questions into whether Duval’s order is corrupt. Can we question that?
Can we question the very basis of Duval’s entire existence?
Stephanie Sinclair: It probably is, which is why Ismae is there.
Kat Kennedy: We’ll see. My bet is an organization that supports and educates women will, of course, be corrupt and evil.
Stephanie Sinclair: I think they both may be corrupt, to be honest. That’s what it looks like.
Kat Kennedy: I hope so. Duval has seriously not endeared himself to me.
Stephanie Sinclair: Yeah, if it goes down that path, my happy cat will die. He will! Open your tiny heart!
Kat Kennedy: I don’t know. He’s so alpha male, me right, you puny insignificant female. It makes me want to drop kick him.
Stephanie Sinclair: We’ve only just met him. He may even deflower Ismae for ya. Lol.
Kat Kennedy: I don’t mind the flowered part.
Stephanie Sinclair: Yes, let’s hope for that!
Kat Kennedy: I just don’t like the prudishness, that disapproval of sex. Well, we’ll keep going. But so far, I’m not enamoured with the story.
Stephanie Sinclair: Your heart is leaving this cruel world!
Kat Kennedy: Lol. Maybe you’re rubbing off on me. Erasing my soul, and stealing it for yourself.
Stephanie Sinclair: A good influence! ^_^
Kat Kennedy: Alright, Mistress of Doom. I’ll see you at the halfway point.
Stay tuned to the next part in our read-along!