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Readers Advisory: Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers

HMH Books for Young Readers, $17.99, ISBN-10 0547628404, November 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.

As His Fair Assassins draws to a close, let us take a moment to reflect upon our favorite moments from the series. My favorite moment came from the first book Grave Mercy, which I listened to in audio. When I listen to an audiobook, I tend to reply to the narrator aloud, often to yell at them for making a stupid choice. Grave Mercy made me say, “For the love of Pete, Ismae, you cannot just sex the poison out of him! Oh. Never mind, then.”

Annith wraps up the final chapter in the story of Mortain’s daughters. Unlike Ismae and Sybella, she never saw the convent as a refuge. Rather than escaping into it from some terrible home life like her two sisters, Annith grew up in the convent and suffered terrible dangers at the hands of the former abbess, nicknamed the Dragonette for her ferocity. Until the Dragonette’s death, Annith suffered terrible abuses in the name of turning her into the perfect instrument for Mortain. To survive, Annith herself strove for perfection in all the arts of Death, and for comfort, she turned her heart to the one thing she did love: their god, Mortain. And man, Annith loves Mortain. All she wants in life is to do his will, and when she thinks the convent may be preventing her from her destiny as his perfect instrument, she strikes out alone. Annith knows more about the workings of the convent than Ismae or Sybella, making her the perfect character to finally answer the questions the first two books raised, especially, “Is the convent doing Mortain’s will, or do the sisters have their own agenda?”

Annith’s quest for answers blows open the world of the old gods, introducing the full story on the hellequins, further lore on Mortain, and characters from the orders of the other gods. At the same time, LaFevers brings the story of the embattled Duchess to a surprising conclusion and wraps up loose ends with Ismae and Duval. Oh, and it’s a romance! Surprisingly, despite the heavy amount of subplots going on, LaFevers doesn’t short Annith on getting her own hot and heavy love affair with brooding slash sexy hellequin leader Balthazaar.

Without spoiling anything, I can say that fans will love this conclusion. The only unlovable part is that the series is ending! However, LaFevers expanded the fantasy portion of her world considerably. Dare we hope she will return to it? I dare.

Recommend to: Fans of the first two books. Although each book stands alone, readers definitely should read one and two first to understand the issues in book 3.

To buy or not to buy: This series is a great buy for public library YA collections.

 

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