Woah, this book was INCREDIBLE. From the first page it hooked me in, and it took my breath away. It didn’t take me long to realise that this book had everything that I want in a book; incredible writing, an addicting plot, incredible characters, swooning romance and plot twists that keep you guessing at every turn.
The plot itself was so unique and immediately piqued my interest – Assassin nuns? Betrayal? 15th Century Brittany? Absolutely perfect.
Ismae, the protagonist was incredibly well rounded, possessed amazing judgement and was just amazingly brave and devoted to duty and what was right. Her life at the convent was thrilling to read about, but it was her life at court that completely sucked me in, as she explored the deceptions and machinations between the main political players. Her mission was to protect the Breton court and work out who was the traitor attempting to rid Anne of her duchy – though I did guess who the culprit was from quite early on, reading about Ismae’s discovery of it was an amazing part of the plot.
I think what I loved most about this book was (apart from the romance, but I’ll get to that later!) the constant suspense and the final culmination of it at the end, as Anne had to escape for her home in order to avoid death. Robin LaFevers has an astonishing gift of drawing suspense and leaving a reader completely on edge for entire chapters.
I LOVED Beast and De Lornay – they kept the humour alight in the plot, and I loved how steadfast they were in their allegiance to Duval.
So, onto Duval himself. I don’t know how to properly explain how much I loved him! He was funny, charming, noble and fierce all in one. His dialogue with Ismae made me smile ridiculously. Actually, all of their scenes together made me long for more. I was SO happy with how their story was resolved. LOVE THIS CHARACTER SO MUCH IT IS UNBELIEVABLE. I’m upset that he won’t be in the sequel (as it is focused on different characters) but I’m so pleased that he got his happy ending.
The convent itself and the history and stunning detail of the world in general was SUPERB. I felt like I was transported back in time. The descriptions were incredibly vivid and the world-building was magical. There aren’t enough flowery metaphors for me to describe just how incredible the setting of this book was. I loved the reality of war within the novel – the ongoing conflict between Brittany and France – and especially the conflicts of religion between the old gods and the Catholic Church of Rome. Medieval and Renaissance history absolutely fascinates me, and so the location, era, and political and social history of the story itself was absolutely addictive and mindblowing for me.
As for the convent, I loved it’s ruthlessness, and how all the sisters were like a family. I was so pleased by Ismae’s decision to not stay with the convent and to follow her own heart. The sisters themselves each had a background and each had a story. I’m DESPERATE to read Dark Triumph as I’m intrigued by Sybella’s story! And I’m equally looking forward to the next book, Mortal Heart as it follows Annith’s story, who I loved.
To conclude, this book was the BEST book I’ve read since Clockwork Princess. It had a brilliant plot and characters that were more than just mere words on a page. Duval – NOT GOING TO LIE, I REFUSE TO BELIEVE YOU’RE FICTIONAL. YOU’RE TOO PERFECT.
Okay, gushing aside, I adored this book. Onto the sequel!