by Robin LaFevers
4 out of 5
Young Ismae has known nothing but humiliation and pain in her short life. The painful scar running down shows that her mother tried to kill her before she was born, but failed. Ismae is marked by St. Mortain, saint of death, and so the night after she is sold to her "husband" the covenant of St. Mortain comes and saves her. At the covenant, Ismae is trained in how to kill a man, with any weapon. She is one of Death's handmaidens, and nothing makes Ismae happier than carrying out her gods wishes. That is until she is assigned to the council of the duchess of Brittany, charged to find the traitors within the duchesses court, and falls in love with a main suspect. Ismae must now choose whether to follow her covenant and it's rules or follow her heart, and discern for herself who are the traitors and who are loyal to the duchess.
This book started off slow, but once it got going it was really good. I liked the twists in the story as well as the moral and emotional struggles Ismae has to deal with. All of her emotion, willingness to serve, and then doubt of motives is easy to feel and is thoroughly well written.