Book - 2016
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In a world where the suns almost never set, a woman gains entry to a school of infamous assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers that destroyed her family. Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father's failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she wanders a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and its thugs. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the hearth of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined. Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic--the Red Church. Deadly trials await her within the Church's halls: blades and poisons, treachery and death. If she survives to initiation, she'll be inducted among the chosen of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and be one step closer to the only thing she desires: revenge.
Publisher: New York : Thomas Dunne Books, an imprint of St. Martin's Press, 2016
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9781250073020
Branch Call Number: KRISTOF
Characteristics: 427 pages : maps ; 24 cm


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Oct 13, 2018

I picked up this book because the cover was stark in contrast and I like the colors. I thought it was a YA book. I've been trying new things. But when I started reading, I knew I had found something familiar...

This book is everything I love about fantasy. I've been writing since 2011 and have felt so alone sometimes because I like a raw story without all the pretense. I like real life, real emotions, real fails, and sometimes I feel like these stories lack an audience. This book has all my favorite stuff (love, blood, vengeance, personal growth, thieves, assassins), and it's set in a place that feels rich and thorough yet not overcomplicated.

As a teen I would have read this but I can certainly understand why people would feel it inappropriate. The sex is (I think) tasteful, but the words can feel crude to some people. I would not have a problem with my kids (who are 7, 8, 10, 12) reading this when they are 15 or 16, when it would make more sense to them.

The story is simply lovely. It deals with real (although melodramatic) issues, and has a great undertone of magic and possibilities that kept me interested and guessing. I felt the pacing was pretty spot on (except for the overlong footnotes, which I found extremely distracting).

The writing is (for me) perfect and beautiful (perhaps because it is exactly what I have always aimed for as a writer), and I felt the language was very suited to the story. If you like gleaming broad sword fantasy, this is not for you...but if you prefer razor sharp poisoned dagger fantasy (as I do), this book will deliver.

Jul 17, 2018

This book is fan-freaking-tastic!! Oh my god!! It's bloody and gory, dark and twisted, and yet still balances itself out with hilarious sarcasm, both by our nameless narrator and the characters alike. Warning, this book is NOT for the faint of heart or a YA novel. It goes into detail about death, sex, murder and torture. The opening line is, and I quote here, "People often shit themselves when they die". This pretty much sets the scene for the rest of the novel. The story revolves around a girl by the name of Mia Corvere, who trains at a school for assassins, as she tries to navigate the place while avoiding getting murdered by both staff and student alike. I recommend this book to anyone who loves an amazing fantasy novel with amazing world building, lyrical and flowing prose and a love for twisted, macabre stories where you might have a protagonist but there are certainly no good guys.

Jul 11, 2018

This series is just bananas. Beginning with one of the best intros I've ever read where we have mirrored narratives of murder and sex, with paralleled descriptions, we are plunged into Mia Corvere's headspace of unwavering action. She has trained as a would-be assassin for years, with the goal of first joining the Red Church as a Blade (contract killer), to be able to kill those that killed her father following a failed rebellion against the ruling powers. I believe that melodrama has to be tempered well with humour to avoid feeling predictable or like a slog through photo-op monologues and dramatically-lit fight scenes, and Kristoff does that extremely well in the form of Mia's shadow-cat-but-not-a-cat 'familiar', in the footnotes which flesh out the fantastic world of the Republic of Itreya, and most importantly in the sarcastic omniscient narrator. I love me a snarky narrator that throws a banana peel in front of the action. Are the metaphors occasionally a BIT much? Yeah, but it's an insane story so I'll allow the indulgence. And how could I forget the profanity *smiles wistfully*! I am thoroughly impressed and this one is highly recommended.

JenniferG_OshLib Jun 12, 2018

I've been trying to branch out and read a few titles I wouldn't have normally picked up. Fantasy titles are on that list. After reading a description by the author on Goodreads, I decided to check this out--the heroine wants vengeance like Inigo Montoya of the Princess Bride; how could I not? What a great surprise! I loved this book and will definitely be checking out the other titles in the series.

If you're a fan of Game of Thrones, this book is pretty much Arya's story with a lot more detail into her assassin training. Mia's a fantastic character, and I loved the world Kristoff created. What was really interesting were the footnotes for each chapter. At first I found them difficult to read since I was using an e-ARC, but when I took the time to read them, they added to so much! Rather than spend 100 pages developing a ton of back story, Kristoff gives you all you need in the footnotes and he adds a lot of humour to them too.

Definitely worth checking out this one if you love GoT and the Princess Bride. Trust me, it works.

May 15, 2018

A fabulous, tough and brutal torrent of an adventure with surprises aplenty.
Witty, stylish writing. A setting to delight and terrify you.

ElizF Dec 03, 2017

A unique fantasy world with appeal for both adults and teens.

JCLChrisK Jun 30, 2017

I'll start by admitting I found this book a little hard to get into at first, not for the subject matter but the writing. It's intentionally stylized to match the contents. Elaborate might be one way to describe it. Gothically poetic. Sensuous. Vibrant. Bold. And that makes sense, given the story being told. It's just that it might also be described as overwrought, melodramatic, purple, and gimmicky. It has its appeal, but can be off-putting if you're not ready to jump in and go with it. So it took me a bit to get to the point that I could stop being distracted by the prose and get on board with the story.

I'm glad I did. Melodramatically Gothic it might be, it's also gripping and entertaining. Once the action picked up, I was invested in Mia and her story, intrigued by events and caught up in the suspense. This is one I made extra time for so I could finish as quickly as possible.

Readers are told right from the start the tale will be a bloody one, described with full brutality. And that it will tell the beginnings of the world's greatest assassin. Then it begins with parallel scenes of her first sex and her first kill. It is a good introduction to what follows.

Mia was ten when she became a fugitive orphan, daughter of a high-ranking family executed for failed political intrigue. She sets her mind on vengeance, finds herself a master, and spends six years in training. Then she sets off in search of the hidden church of the Lady of Blessed Murder in the hopes of becoming a disciple, where she will join a class studying the art of killing in all its many forms. A class that will see most of its members not survive to graduation.

This is an absorbing and stimulating tale.


I want to add a few footnotes to my review.

First, about the book's copious footnotes. Kristoff uses them to provide background information, as world-building devices. He injects them with plenty of humor to keep them interesting. But I listened to the audiobook, and in that format they particularly disrupted the flow of the story. They were more a negative than a positive for me because of that.

Second, the audiobook narrator. He was not to my liking. He worked very hard to differentiate dialogue and character voices, but they seemed more exaggerated caricatures than real voices. And he had a particularly stilted cadence to his reading of the William Shatner variety, with constant, random pauses and emphases that had no relation to the words he was reading.

Finally, my library has this in the Young Adult section, though underneath the spine label you can see another indicating it was originally in the adult section. This is about a teenager and is set (broadly defined) in a school, but it didn't feel particularly YA to me. It's crossover, at least, and might be more suited to the original adult designation.

Feb 13, 2017

This book surprised me in a good way. The cover does not do it justice, almost steered me away. I found I was much more engaged in the characters than I anticipated. It did take a little bit to really draw me, but was worth the read.

Dec 25, 2016

This is a tough one to review. There were times I was completely sucked into the story but just as many times where I wasn't that invested. The writing style here could be to blame. Kristoff is a bit long winded at times and the tome is rather dense throughout. The writing is beautiful, to be sure, very poetic and descriptive - - almost too much. There were times I wished he would just state something outright rather than carrying that description verbiage into every passage.

I've read some debate as to whether this is truly YA or if this should be categorized as NA. I think that probably boils down to the sex scenes. Most YA just glosses over sex/alluding to it but never outright mentioning it....or just pretends that teenagers don't get it on. So the existence of actual sex scenes here is likely what makes people question the designation. To be clear, teenagers have sex. Particularly teenagers that have already killed people. This is YA. It just happens to be YA that doesn't pretend an entire facet of human life doesn't exist. The scenes are descriptive, as descriptive as any other passage in the book would be, but it is by no means erotica.

The plot here is great. Mia is amazing as well. And the world building is fantastic. I really enjoyed how Kristoff put this together, as far as it being a story someone is telling you (complete with random asides and backstory). This was pretty clever, I thought, and allowed for a depth to the world building. I have a fairly complete understanding of the environment, the politics, and the history that went into creating the characters and the world they live in. And I adored the intro to the book. Having competing firsts, such polar opposites of each other, described with the exact same language was quite the feat. Kristoff outdid himself here. It really set the stage for the kind of story you were about to get.

Mia is amazing. She wasn't just magically gifted the skills she has, and she doesn't somehow automatically know how to do everything. She doesn't excel at every task immediately. She has to work for it, suffer for it. And that makes her more relatable to me. I loved the interactions between her and Mister Kindly. I also liked her time with Tric and how that developed.

The side characters, particularly the Ministry and Speaker/Weaver characters were really well developed and awesome to read about. The other acolytes, while some were glossed over, added a lot to the development of Mia as did Naev. I really appreciate the fact that these characters were given some development, stories of their own, rather than only existing within Mia's story.

Dec 01, 2016

This was the first new book I've read in a while that really gripped me and made me want to keep reading. It took a chapter or two to get use to Kristoff's writing style and he does have a habit of embracing strange metaphors, but the story was riveting and the ending made me angry - in a good way. I didn't see it coming at all.

Be warned though - this book is about assassins and there is a lot of violence and other adult themes.

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Dec 25, 2016

ADWithrow thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

Dec 01, 2016

allythemeek thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

LoganLib_Kirra Sep 13, 2016

LoganLib_Kirra thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

Aug 19, 2016

Basht thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


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