by Robin LaFevers
Published on November 4, 2014
by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt BFYR
Source: ARC giveaway at BEA
Synopsis from Goodreads: Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own. She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind doesn't mean she has...My take: I have loved these Fair Assassin books so much! I think the way they blend actual history with myth, fairy tale, and invented elements is both seamless and compelling. All three books have an underlying subplot that has to do with a real historical figure, Anne of Brittany. Anne is a young duchess who, upon her father's death, was heir to the Duchy and besieged by suitors. The invented part of the story involves a convent of women who serve St. Mortain, god of Death. These women are trained assassins who are honor bound to kill anyone who bears St. Mortain's deadly "marque."
Annith, our heroine, has been waiting patiently to be called to duty, silently chafing as she watches her sisters go out on assignment while she is stuck in the convent. As the synopsis suggests, Annith comes to suspect that the abbess has a plan for her that will trap her in the convent forever, and she decides to escape.
While there were things I absolutely loved about this book, there are also some things that weren't completely for me. I'll start with the positives. I loved the way that this book was its own story while still serving as a conclusion for this trio of companion books. I loved the fact that this book had a couple of surprising twists. I was thrilled that Ismae, Sybella and Annith were reunited in this book and that each played a part in the story. I absolutely loved the story of Anne and her younger sister Isabeau. And I came to like Annith, who comes across as a bit cool and aloof in the prior books.
What didn't completely work for me was the romance. I can't say too much without spoilers, and if you've read the book you will be able to guess what I mean. While I found the guy in question to be a unique and fascinating character, I just couldn't get behind him as a love interest. There were ... issues. I found the story of the courtship intriguing but not swoony and romantic in a way that made my heart melt.
But I've discussed this book with other friends and many of them completely and vehemently disagree with me and find the romance to be complete perfection. This is what I love about talking books -- we can read the exact same words on the page and completely disagree.
Still, I'm a huge fan of these books and the author. Can't wait to see what she writes next! And if you love historical fiction and haven't tried these yet, you really should!