First of all, the cover. What first grabbed my attention was the red dress, indicating the time frame the story takes place, but the crossbow made me want to snatch it up and read it immediately. It seems I am reading more and more historical fiction/fantasy books, such as this one. The idea of reading some historical facts, but also getting the fantasy boost brings in the "not reality" feeling I love. Isme's character suffers much in her young life. Abuse by her father, selling her off to a nasty old man at the age of 14, she is saved by a priest who takes her to a convent. There she is taught the ways of an assassin, serving her God, St. Mortain, the God of death. Isme has so many bad feelings toward men, that learning these skills is a pleasure for her. When she is sent out on her last mission before she takes her vows to the Convent, she learns what love really feels like. She grows so much, watching and learning how real families interact, how men can be more than just brutal.Isme has to make some difficult decisions, including defying her convent or taking out those who she is commanded to kill. Knowing who to trust becomes harder and harder the longer she is at Court. She find new plots and schemes, betrayal and treason at every corner. She also finds love after hating men most of her life. Obviously, this is a dark plot, considering the whole assassin thing, but with action and romance. I would consider this a mature Young Adult book because of the violence and adult situations.