- The growth. Over the course of the novel, Ismae shows a good amount of growth. I understand that part of faith is believing in what you cannot see or prove, and since Ismae has devoted her life to a god, it is expected that some of her decisions will be out of her hands. There are times during the story, however, where Ismae knows that what she is being told to do by the convent is not the right thing. It is these discrepancies that help push Ismae to rise above blind faith to a genuine relationship with her god. She goes from blindly accepting orders to questioning authority and making her own way, based off of what she knows in her heart to be true.
- St. Mortain. I loved the idea of this book--a convent of women devoted to serving the god of death. And the scene in the book when St. Mortain finally makes an appearance is probably my absolute favorite throughout the entire novel. It is perfect.
- The pace. This book had a wonderful beginning. It was fast-paced, interesting, suspenseful, and most of all different from the run-of-the-mill YA book on the market today. But once Ismae leaves the convent for her "final assignment", things go rapidly downhill. The pace slows to a crawl, mostly due to a lack of what I would consider momentum-building plot devices.
- The lack of assassinations. So when you pick this book up, on the cover you notice a couple different things. You see a woman with a crossbow. You see the bold, catchy line "Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?" You see that this is the first in a series called "His Fair Assassin." These all lead you to believe there will be lots of poisons, swords, fighting, sneaking around, and most of all ASSASSINATIONS. Well people, I have a surprise for you: your assumptions would be wrong. This book contains very little assassinations, and most of the deaths are part of a mystery which Ismae herself is forced to solve.
- The romance. The lack of assassinations is immediately filled with a cheesy insta-love worthy of a Harlequin Romance novel. I hated the fake chemistry, I hated every time they talked, I hated the longing and lusting. I didn't care if they got together in the end--although you could tell from the moment they met that was practically inevitable. The only thing this romance had going for it was there was no love triangle, thank God.
- The gossip. Along with healthy doses of cheesy romance, we are treated to a ridiculous amount of court gossip. Who is sleeping around? Who is a big whore? Who spends their money frivolously? Who is a big moron? Who is a bastard son? All these questions and more will be answered for you about almost every person Ismae encounters once she gets to court.
2/5 - This book had great potential and a strong beginning. Unfortunately, it quickly loses steam and drags on forever about topics that do not interest me at all: gossip and romance. The lack of assassinations is also a huge let down and extremely surprising given the title and premise of the novel. I will not be picking up any more books in this series. I think you will enjoy this novel much more than I did if you enjoy LOTS of romance and drama peppered with historical fiction and mystery.