Reading Level: Young Adult
Size: 560 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Release Date: April 3, 2012
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the His Fair Assassin series
Rating: 5/5 stars
Prior to reading this book I had read LaFevers Theodosia series and Nathaniel Fludd series (middle grade and children’s books). I was so excited to hear that LaFevers was coming out with a young adult book because I really enjoy her writing. The second book in this series, Dark Triumph, released in April 2013. There is also supposed to be a third novel in this series, Mortal Heart, which is scheduled to be released in 2014 some time. This was an incredibly well written and engaging young adult historical fantasy.
Ismae escapes from a brutal and violent arranged marriage to the convent of St. Mortain. There she finds that the god of death has blessed her with strange and wonderful abilities. If she chooses to stay at St. Mortain she will be trained in the deadly art of assassination. As part of her training Ismae is sent out to deal with a traitor in the high court of Brittany. While there she learns to question everything and everyone around her, even the convent she was raised in. When matters of the heart and politics interfere with her loyalty to St. Mortain, Ismae is torn about which path is the right one.
Wonderful young adult historical fantasy about a girl who becomes an assassin and gets embroiled in complex politics between Brittany and France. Of course along the way she meets a dashing nobleman and is forced to choose between his love and the God of Death, the patron God of the convent she was trained in.
Ismae is a complex and intriguing character. Despite the brutality that ruled her early years, she still knows how to care and love. She is tough heroine and very capable, except in matters of the heart. I loved watching her grow throughout the story and watching how she began to think and make decisions for herself.
One of Ismae’s main goal is to ascertain the loyalty of Gavriel Duval, who is a cousin to the duchess. Gavriel is one of those almost too good to be true type of men. He is a fighter and strong, incredibly loyal and tender towards those he loves. He was a complex male lead and I enjoyed him a lot.
There are some awesome action scenes in this book, but by far the emphasis of this novel is court intrigue. The court intrigue is complex and there are multiple layers of deceit that Ismae has to work through. I enjoyed the complexity and never felt lost or confused.
The writing is beautiful and there is a lot of excellent imagery throughout. The book is pretty serious, but Ismae does have a sharp sense of humor at times. There is a lot of talk of weapons and poison-use; so that adds some interesting side-topics into the story.
I really enjoyed how the story wrapped up, it was just perfect and matched the tone of the book well. I am really looking forward to reading Sybella’s story in Dark Triumph.
Overall this book was incredibly well written and just a wonderful read. I really really enjoyed this novel. I would recommend this to those who love intrigue driven historical fantasies. This is just a wonderfully done YA historical fantasy with complex and engaging characters, a wonderful plot, and a well thought out world. There is a thread of romance throughout the story as well. Definitely a recommended read. I can’t wait to read the remaining books in this series.