Mar 28, 2014

Mortis, by Hannah Cobb

Disclaimer: All reviews are the result of my personal opinion from a Christian stand-point. These reviews are provided for those who share my beliefs and morals, to help guide what fiction a reader may wish to pick up. For those who do not share these beliefs, please refrain from hateful comments. It is due to rude commenting that I must now include this note prior to all reviews. For more information, visit my purpose behind this blog. Thank you for your understanding.

Intended Age-Group: 13+
Issues of Violence: knife fights, poisoning, falling into a pit of spikes 
Intimacy Level: One kiss
Language: none!
Recommendation: 4 out of 5 stars

Book blurb:
In an underground school rife with duels and deadly classes, Jane hides in the shadows to stay alive. She is the invisible assassin. But as she prepares to graduate from Mortis and take her place in the world as a fully-trained killer, Jane stumbles over shadowy secrets revealing dark truths that affect more than her world. Will she embrace the darkness, or betray the school that raised her -- and the boy she loves? Once Jane sets herself against her school, there is no turning back because in Mortis, failure always means death.
A clean book about a school of assassins? Why yes, it can be done. Just ask Hannah Cobb -- she's the master (though not a master assassin...I hope.)

Initial Reaction: *****
The premise of this story had me instantly hooked. The writing was tight and fast-paced, but about 1/4 of the way into the book, I kept wondering, "Okay, what's the threat/goal/driving force going to be?" The worldbuiling and culture were very intriguing, but not enough to carry the story. Thankfully, right about when I asked that question is when purple-eyed Nathan Wade stepped up. Nothing like a handsome enemy sneaking into the main character's story. I didn't mind one little bit.

Characters: *****
We follow main character, Jane, through most of the story. It didn't take me long to like her and root for her like a baseball fan at the World Series. She had many admirable factors -- her morals, her determination, her stealthiness, and the fact she was an observer, which meant she was a thinker.
I like thinkers. It makes the character smart, which then makes me feel like it's worth investing my time in her.
Her growth through the story felt very natural. I could understand why she made the choices she did and why she cared about certain things (and people.)

Plot:  *****
The intensity of the story escalated the further I read until I absolutely couldn't put it down unless I finished. On occasion, the story moved too fast for me and I wasn't sure what was happening. I figured out most of it by the end, though.
The plot in general is solid. It's a great mixture of character struggles, creative worlds, and twists. I liked Jane's choices and what she learned about her school. I especially liked that she decided action must be taken. But now I'm getting back into the character side of things. [grin]
Good solid plot.

Spiritual focus:  *****
While there was no spiritual focus, the morals were good and the book was 100% clean. No swearing, no alternate gods, no excessive gore.

Um...the ball. Need I say more? What's more fun than wearing a gorgeous dress covered in jewels with knives hidden in your hair? (Or, for the men, with a glittering sword at your side?)

The artwork at the start of each chapter. Very rustic, simple, but intriguing all at the same time. It really added to the feel of the book.

Jane's friendship with Willy. Both of their personalities were conveyed in a way that, within pages, I knew what to expect from them. Their friendship was sweet, deep, and very touching. Strength to the BFFs!

Romance -- I'm not a huge one for romance, but when a book is telling me there's supposed to be chemistry, then I start looking for it. I didn't feel a single flicker of chemistry between the chosen couple until about 3/4 of the way through. When it did come, I was quite pleased, but there could have been more to it to make it feel natural. I expect to see this build in book two.
Description -- I could have done with some extra description. Some readers don't like the paragraphs of visuals. I, however, thrive off them. I felt like I could only visualize parts of the story and characters. But that's subjective reading for you. ;)
Setting (and this may go hand-in-hand with description) -- I didn't realize the world had a fantasy element to it until Jane talked to a horse and it talked back. Prior to that, I thought maybe it was very similar to our world. But it didn't take me long to catch on.

Overall Recommendation:
Overall, I was pleased with this book. It was well-written and the plot built beautifully. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy, sword-fighting, and adventure.

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She writes stories about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her debut dystopian novel, A Time to Die, released September 2014 from Enclave Publishing. When Nadine's not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she is out pursuing adventures. She currently lives in Idaho with her husband. You can find out more about Nadine and her books at