Ismae was once a turnip-grower's daughter turned convent assassin for the god of Death. A naive country bumpkin who has an affinity for poison goes on a mission for her convent and subsequently falls in love with one of her target. Goes to court, finds intrigue and deception, falls in love, sees major betrayals, etc. All the cliches of a naive girl assassin which were not executed in any notable fashion.
Some major problems I had with the whole world/concept:
-The gods and the magic system was not fully developed. Readers have to just go with the flow and accept that some people are marked, others are not, and some have more abilities than other. Nothing else sets them apart except that. Even the abilities are not fully explained.
-The world entirely. I don't even know. So apparently the novel is set in our world (with France and Britain and the Holy Roman Empire) but in the 1800's, or somewhere around that. Yet... the magic system? How does this come into play? Also the way the convent is dedicated towards Britainy, or whatever they call the country, and her duchess. So basically the book is saying the god of Death (Mortian) upholds Britain's rule? I don't know if this is artistic license to make the plot move, or if the author truly is a crazy anglophile. Regardless, it rubs me the wrong way having no shades of gray - just black and white that this country is in the right.
Problems with characters:
-Ismae's character is unbelievable. A naive assassin. Sigh. She kills people without blinking, but has trouble figuring out anything else.
-Also, the introduction of the character Sybella - why bother? She had absolutely no purpose, yet was given a sense of importance. I can't tell if this is a foreshadowing to a sequel or just very poor usage of characters.
The plot was alternately rushed and dragging. The middle part dragged and the latter portion of the plot seemed to be missing development in how quickly everything came to a conclusion.
Two stars because the writing wasn't terrible and I did smile at some portions of the book. Also the ending isn't bad, which helps greatly. Not worth a reread, but perhaps a one time skim through.