An amazing and emotional read, full of suspense, romance and (unfortunately) heartbreak!
Ismae is an assassin, plain and simple. She managed to escape the miserable fate that awaited her as a wife of an abusive pig farmer and she was brought to the convent of St. Mortain, the saint of death. There she was taught everything that she needs to know to become a Death's handmaiden.
In the beginning it seemed simple. There are people who are marked by St. Mortain. Those people need killing. Unfortunately things are not always what they seem. It all becomes clear (or muddled depends on the way you want to look at it) when she is tasked with going with Duval, a nobleman desperate to protect his half-sister Anne, the duchess of Brittany from those who wish her harm.
Suddenly, thing are not what they appear, and what seemed so easy and clear, is now impossible. For doing what her convent demands of her would break her.
I adore Ismae. She is so strong, skilled in death and yet so innocent in some ways. The way she tries to fight her feelings for Duval and yet fails is incredible to read about.
Actually, the other characters are amazing as well. Duvall, and his two friends (especially Beast), Ismae's handmaiden friends, the duchess and her sister, the other political people, even the bad guy are portrayed perfectly. They all have their reasons for being what they are.
A fair warning, most of the book is far away from being about sunshine and roses. There are tragic moments that made me cry, but seeing the characters overcome it all, that is indescribable.
Waiting (really impatiently) for Dark Triumph. I can't wait to see more of these characters. BIG SPOILER: And I can't help but hope that Beast managed to (miraculously) survive, that Sybella saved him somehow, I don't care how. He's such an amazing man, and if he died like de Lornay (that was tragic enough). I was sobbing when they stayed behind to buy Ismae and Anne time to escape.I damn near tear up every time I even think about it.
Edited to add: And they never really said explicitly that he died, just that they took him inside the town. Right?
If anybody read it and even sees a glimmer of a chance that I might be right please say so. Please... *looking around pleadingly*
Another edit: It's id possible that Sybelle's unexpected ally that she found in the dungeon is Beast (look for the summary of Dark Triumph to see what I mean). I have to admit that it gives me hope. After all no author can create a character like Beast and then kill him off.
P.S. Sorry for the constant edits, but my sister isn't here to talk to me about the book, so when something occurs to me, I have to add it here (talking about the stuff in the spoiler tag). :PBook provided by NetGalley