"I Must Read, Read, and Read. It is my Vocation." - Thomas Merton
This is where I chronicle my reading life. I also blog about writing at Lacey's Late-night Editing.
I was expecting this book to come in at a solid three stars. The plot element that most intrigued me -- assassin nuns! -- didn't get a whole lot of play, and I wondered if the story and the characters would be enough to hold me till the end. I was skeptical; the push-and-pull of the romantic interest in the first part of the book skirted a little too close to a paranormal romance vibe for me, and that's not a genre I generally go in for. I also worried, when the first couple kills were made in the early chapters, that this would be a book that treated death lightly and glamorized murder.
I don't know much about the history of this period, and I wasn't even sure the 12-year-old Duchess, Anne, was a real person until I looked her up just now. So I sometimes found myself getting a little lost in the court drama and political intrigue, but I found Anne to be well characterized, and her older brother's tenderness for her to be touching. As the book enters its second half, the narrator develops a more nuanced relationship with death, as well as with her relationship to the convent that trained her. The tension of being "away from home" and finding yourself drifting from what you've always assumed to be true was well done as Ismae finds herself questioning the nuns' orders when her own heart tells her differently about who is guilty, who is innocent, and ultimately, who deserves to live. And, alas, even the romance ended up pulling me in before the book was through. I guess I'm just a sucker for men who love their sisters.