Whoa! This book veered off in a entirely different direction than the first two books of this trilogy. The first two books were about the convent of Saint Mortain in the late 1400s in Brittany. The convent worships one of the Nine old gods before the time of the Catholic Church. They worship Mortain, the god of death and the nuns are called the daughters of Mortain. They are taught to be assassins for their country and for Anne of Brittany who is fighting to keep Brittany independent from France.
The first two books were about two separate assassin’s who were sent out to aid the duchess by the Reverend Mother/Abbess. Each assassin has special gifts like being immune to poison or being able to see and speak to spirits which help them with their jobs. They are actually sired by Mortain himself but other than their gifts, there wasn’t any magic or otherworldy stuff going on.
This book, Annith runs away from the convent to find out the truth about what the Abbess is up to. Annith is the best trained assassin in the convent. She doesn’t have any special gifts but she is better at everything than any of the other girls and even than some of the teachers yet the Abbess keeps sending others out on assignments. And now she wants Annith to become the new seer which will mean she will always be stuck in the convent on the island and never be able to use her skills. It makes no sense.
Here’s where the story took a strange turn. Annith had camped for the night when she heard thundering hooves and hounds. It was hellequins and hellhounds led by a man named Balthazaar. Hellequin are men who have died but are given a chance to redeem themselves by serving Mortain AKA Death by hunting down lost and damned souls to usher them to the Underworld. Balthazaar insists that Annith join them as they are headed in the same direction.
Annith fears that the hellequin are really hunting her because she ran away from the convent so she goes along with them. Balthazaar is very protective of her but also distant.
It all made sense later in the book but the introduction of the hellequin threw me for a bit.
This was my favorite book of the series and I absolutely fell in love with Balthazaar. I wish there were more books or a spin-off series.