Reviews

School Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Gr 9 Up-Ismae Rienne, born with an ugly red scar, is believed to have been sired by Death himself, and, when she escapes from her abusive husband on her wedding night, she finds refuge in the convent of St. Mortain where handmaidens are prepared to carry out Death's wishes. Trained in poisons, weaponry, and the wiles of seduction, she is sent off to prove herself by posing as the mistress of Gavriel Duval, a Breton working against the French so that his sister Anne can rightfully be crowned Duchess of Brittany. The political intrigue and resulting betrayals that the teen witnesses lead her to denounce the treasonous chancellor, save Duval from the traitor's poison, and realize that she wishes to follow the teachings of the convent, not as an assassin, but as one who frees suffering souls in their final moments. Though in love with Duval, she recognizes her own worth and vows to be faithful to her mission, living a life dedicated not to vengeance, but to mercy. This is a rich portrayal of the complexities of courtly life in 15th-century Brittany, featuring explicit details of costume and custom and showing how the lives of royalty and those who served them intertwined. The short, well-paced chapters will leave readers breathlessly waiting for more. Ismae and Duval are particularly well drawn, and the many twists and turns that influence their relationship are both fascinating and believable. While the story is sure to resonate with adolescents who are intrigued by vampires, werewolves, and their cultures of death, the violence, the sexual references (including the description of Ismae and Duval's first sexual encounter), and the idea of training servants for Death are for older readers. The book is well written and filled with fascinating, complex characters who function realistically in this invented medieval world.-Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, The Naples Players, FL (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Middle-grade author LaFevers (the Theodosia books) makes an outstanding foray into historical romance with an enthralling recreation of 15th-century Brittany. At its center is 17-year-old Ismae, a badly scarred peasant girl who, fleeing her thuggish husband, is taken in by the convent of St. Mortain, whose patron saint is the ancient, pre-Christian god of death. Believed to be Death's literal daughter, blessed (or cursed) with powerful gifts, Ismae is trained as an assassin, highly competent with all weapons and poisons. After two successful missions, she is dispatched to the court of Anne of Brittany to keep track of Duval, the duchess's handsome and tempestuous illegitimate older brother. Reluctantly, she falls in love with him, knowing full well that she may someday be called upon to end his life. Rich in historical detail, well-realized characters, political machinations, and enticingly prickly scenes between Ismae and Duval, LaFevers's complex tale incorporates magic both sparingly and subtly. This powerful first volume of the His Fair Assassin series should attract many readers. Ages 14-up. Agent: Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary Agency. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

*Starred Review* In the late fifteenth century, Mortain, the god of death, has sired Ismae to be his handmaiden. She will carry out his wishes by working through the Convent, where she has found refuge from a brutal father and husband. After learning the Convent's wily warfare and womanly arts, and being apprenticed to Sister Serafina (poisons mistress and Convent healer), 17-year-old Ismae is sent to the high court of Brittany, ostensibly as the cousin (aka mistress) of the Breton noble Duval but, in truth, she is there as a spy. Her tacit assignment is to protect the young duchess by assassinating Duval if he proves to be a traitor, a charge made more difficult because of the couple's attraction to each other. LaFevers has written a dark, sophisticated novel true to the fairy-tale conventions of castles, high courts, and good versus evil, and spiced with poison potions; violent (and sometimes merciful) assassinations; subtle seductions; and gentle, perfect love. With characters that will inspire the imagination, a plot that nods to history while defying accuracy, and a love story that promises more in the second book, this is sure to attract feminist readers and romantics alike. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: With a $100,000 marketing campaign, including national print, online, and social-media outreach; a video trailer; and a vintage T-shirt promotion, the publisher is pushing LaFevers' novel in a big way.--Bradburn, Frances Copyright 2010 Booklist


School Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Gr 9 Up-Ismae Rienne, born with an ugly red scar, is believed to have been sired by Death himself, and, when she escapes from her abusive husband on her wedding night, she finds refuge in the convent of St. Mortain where handmaidens are prepared to carry out Death's wishes. Trained in poisons, weaponry, and the wiles of seduction, she is sent off to prove herself by posing as the mistress of Gavriel Duval, a Breton working against the French so that his sister Anne can rightfully be crowned Duchess of Brittany. The political intrigue and resulting betrayals that the teen witnesses lead her to denounce the treasonous chancellor, save Duval from the traitor's poison, and realize that she wishes to follow the teachings of the convent, not as an assassin, but as one who frees suffering souls in their final moments. Though in love with Duval, she recognizes her own worth and vows to be faithful to her mission, living a life dedicated not to vengeance, but to mercy. This is a rich portrayal of the complexities of courtly life in 15th-century Brittany, featuring explicit details of costume and custom and showing how the lives of royalty and those who served them intertwined. The short, well-paced chapters will leave readers breathlessly waiting for more. Ismae and Duval are particularly well drawn, and the many twists and turns that influence their relationship are both fascinating and believable. While the story is sure to resonate with adolescents who are intrigued by vampires, werewolves, and their cultures of death, the violence, the sexual references (including the description of Ismae and Duval's first sexual encounter), and the idea of training servants for Death are for older readers. The book is well written and filled with fascinating, complex characters who function realistically in this invented medieval world.-Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, The Naples Players, FL (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.