Series: His Fair Assassin Trilogy #3
Publication Date: November 4, 2014
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 452 (ARC)
Source: BEA 2014
Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own.
She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind doesn't mean she has.
But across Brittany, the tides of war are drawing ever nearer, with France pressuring the beleaguered duchess from all sides. Annith’s search for answers threatens to rip open an intricate web of lies and deceit that sit at the heart of the convent she serves. Yet to expose them threatens the very fabric of her existence and risks an unforeseen chance at love, one that she can no longer deny. Annith must carefully pick a path and, gods willing, effect a miracle that will see her country—and her heart—to safety.
I went into this book with high expectations, but also a lot of anxiety. While this is Annith's story, this is also the story of how Anne of Brittany fares in the war that has been culminating for the entire trilogy. There's a lot of edge of your seat moments in this one because of this. And, honestly, I couldn't have asked for a better ending. I am immensely satisfied, though I had a few qualms with this one.
Annith is absolutely amazing. Biddable and obedient, she is silently ruthless and cunning. She's a bit of a rebel, but can someone who serves Mortain really act any other way? It was very easy to connect to Annith, especially when the horrors that the previous abbess, the Dragonette, forced her to endure come to light. She is so strong and so unwavering in her love and obedience for Mortain that you feel ill when you realize how selfish the abbess is being by wanting to sequester her in the convent forever as the future Seeress. When the current Seeress falls ill, she immediately begins to question Mortain's will and her fate or if there's other evil forces at work within the walls of the convent. While book one was full of political intruige, book two has a heavy emphasis on politicking within the walls of the convent itself.
After reading book two, it is obvious that Annith must run away from the convent in search of answers. Along the way, she runs into Mortain's other servants...the hellequin's hunt! A hellequin is an individual who has pledged to serve Mortain by rounding up lost souls and escorting them to the Underworld in exchange for atoning for his sins and not being damned. In other words, these people have no souls and while they look terrifying, all they want is to help suffering souls because, in turn, they may be able to redeem themselves in death. Escorted to her eventual destination by the hunt, Annith learns their ways and even befriends some of these creatures while being hopelessly enraptured with their leader, Balthazaar. Now, let me tell you, Balthazaar is an incredibly closed off character in the beginning, but he is oh so enticing. He is tied with Beast for my favorite love interest from this series. While constantly brooding and very dangerous, he is brimming with passion when trying to decide to succumb to the temptation that Annith provides. Balthazaar is an integral part of this story and a ton of huge twists surround him. One in particular had me gasping for air and having to walk rounds around my living room to calm myself before I could keep reading. My one complaint is that for a love interest, and an amazing one at that, he was not as present in the story as I would have liked him to be. This story is seriously worth reading for Balthazaar alone.
The plot of this one is rather straightforward in comparison to the rest of the series. If you know anything about this time in history, one could guess what would happen with the duchess and the war, though LaFevers's means of getting there is definitely unique. There's a lot of forgiveness, though there is not much forgetting. New twists are revealed that one could never see coming, just as some twists are revealed that I definitely saw coming. That's one of my issues with this book. In books one and two, I was very bad at predicting what, exactly, would happen if it was not romance related. I could predict a few things in this one, especially regarding the truth behind Annith's family, her past, and how she would handle such knowledge. But, with that in mind, I was still hopelessly enraptured with the story and not put off by the occasional predictable twist.
But, with that in mind, I am left with some questions. We know how Annith handles the truth about her family in the moment, but I want to know what happens in the long run. I want to know what becomes of the hellequin that are so scary, yet so easy to enjoy when part of the story. I want to know what happens at the convent in Annith's absence...and what exactly happens after the end of the story. While the ending itself is very satisfying, I have a few questions that could have been cleared up wonderfully with an epilogue of some sort. I typically don't like epilogues, so when I call for one you know that I am so indebted I am desperate for my answers. While the author's note at the end of the story teases more explanation in this wonderfully addicting world, I can't say I'll be satisfied until all loose ends are tied up completely. However, with that in mind, there aren't many loose ends left. But LaFevers has a way of making a reader curious about everything she says, which is why I am so anxious to have my answers.
In the end, this is my favorite book of the series. Just short of perfect. LaFevers has mastered the difficult task of storytelling. You'll gobble up her amazing writing like candy and not breathe until you turn the very last page of the very last book. While I had a few small issues with this one, this is definitely a worthy ending for my favorite historical fiction fantasy series of all times. These assassin nuns and their super amazing love interests have secured a spot on my characters to never forget list. I am officially a slave to LaFevers and I will buy and read anything she writes.
Even now, my heart is still beating fast thinking about this book. Always a sign of literary greatness!
This book was read as part of my summer of series.
FTC Disclaimer: I received no compensation of any kind in exchange for this honest review.