Unfairly to this book, while I enjoyed the it as a standalone novel (that rare unicorn in the fantasy world), I found myself constantly wishing I was back in The World of the White Rat! I really hope that Kingfisher writes more in that universe, though. It’s the rare sort of one that has both enough scope for imagination but doesn’t require you to pull out your colored pens and post it notes to keep a track of a fictional family free more closely than you keep track of your various nieces and nephews and other relatives.
What do you do if you’re the moderately talented but not particularly beloved third daughter of a precariously positioned kingdom that desperately needs a marriage alliance to have some hope of remaining independent? Become a nun and leave everything else behind, of course. And then when you learn that the marriage alliance in question is with a creepy, abusive, potentially murder-y priest? Go on a Grand Quest.
The entire ~vibe~ of this book is a bit different to the other Kingfisher books I’ve read. If the other books feel like a sunny, dusty day this one is definitely more overcast fog with a hint of chill. There’s some of the same plot points that I’ve come to love (namely, characters who are adults of age as opposed to ’22-year old adults’) (also, grizzled Knights with Tragic History) but for all that it’s a standalone novel there’s a lot of world-building and eerie atmosphere packed in.