There must have been a directive from publishers to authors : We need strong female leads!! We need to cash in on this whole Hunger Games thing. If possible they should be deadly. This must be the reason why I keep finding lady assassin books everywhere in YA right now. Luckily all of the books I’ve read have been pretty awesome so I’m not complaining. Just sayin’…
Author : Robin Lafevers
Stand Alone or Series : #1 in His Fair Assassin series (although as far as I can tell each book is about a different person while still being interconnected)
Three Words : historical, romance, YA,
Red Flags : sexual situations, some language, violence (still YA but maybe the older end of that)
Summary : Seventeen-year-old Ismae Rienne is about to be married off to the Pig Farmer Guillo. He is violent, brutish, not to mention extremely rapey. Luckily she is rescued before this can happen and taken to the convent of St. Mortain. There the sisters serve the old gods, specifically Death, under the guise of Christian saints. They are tasked to train the sisters to serve Death, including sending those bearing his marque to their final sleep. Ismae passes their tests and become one of the initiates. She learns how to make poisons, how to swordfight, knife fight and kill with her bare hands. Basically become a super bad ass. Now she has been assigned to the Breton court of the Duchess, where she is to pretend to be Gavriel Duval’s mistress. She is supposed to learn who is plotting against the Duchess and dispatch them. Things get all sorts of complicated when she discovers that Gavriel is not only intelligent but kind-hearted and super hot. Plus she is woefully underprepared to deal with all the court intrigues, etc… Will she follow through with her task? What if Gavriel is the traitor?
My Take : I liked many things about this book and I disliked many things about this book. Dislike : Ismae does not seem all that deep of a character. For being a bad-ass, she has a lot of self-esteem issues. Somehow that didn’t jibe with the whole becoming assassin thing. On the other hand, Ismae going through the whole trying to decide if the convent is on the side of right or not seemed very compelling and true to the character. Dislike #2 : I wasn’t all that excited about Gavriel…just hoping for a little more substance not just hot and kind. Dislike #3 : Some plot points seemed a little too contrived…really? Somebody is thought to be a traitor so instead of taking off, he hides in the secret passageways of the castle. This is making it sound like I hated this book but I actually really liked it and am excited to read the next book in the series. I really liked following Ismae in her initial training at the convent. I loved the court intrigue, the interesting historical context of Breton and the light fantasy elements that were woven seamlessly into the story. I hoped for a little more depth and interest in the characters but the world that Lafevers has created is enough to draw me in. I give it seven and a half shoes : gladiator shoes – not always practical but with certain outfits – really fun!