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?
Part kick-ass heroine, part love story, part mystery, and part political intrigue set the path for one hell of a story!
"I bear a deep red stain that runs from my left shoulder down to my right hip, a trail left by the herbwitch's poison that my mother used to try to expel me from her womb. That I survived, according to the herbwitch, is no miracle but a sign I have been sired by the god of death himself."
Ismae is our kick-ass heroine. After years of neglect and abuse she is sent to a convent to train as Death's Handmaiden. In other words, she is trained to be an assassin. And Ismae is good at her calling. So she is sent to the palace to uncover the traitor to the young duchess. Will the traitor succeed in their plot to end the life of the duchess, or will Ismae keep her safe? For that matter, will Ismae keep her heart safe and secure?
Full of rich language, tense moments, and beautiful death scenes. The characters were well developed. You liked those you were supposed to like, disliked certain ones, were leery of others, and unsure about others. One of my stand out favorite characters was Vanth. :)
And now to leave you with my favorite passage from the book:
"We will teach you to make poisons. Poisons that grip the gut and force a man's life to dribble from him into a slop pail. Poisons to stop the heart or squeeze the humors from the body. Bloodwort to congeal the blood so it can no longer move through the veins. We will show you subtle poisons that take days to fell a man, and those that kill within seconds. And that is just to start."
If I were to be an assassin, I'd probably utilize poisons. How about you? If you like this one, you may want to try Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder-while not the exact same, but similar enough.