This wasn't the best book in the world, but it kept me hooked from the beginning until the end. Unfortunately, it also felt like an extremely long prologue of sorts with things happening, but at the same time, things NOT quite happening.
Ileni is losing her magic powers and so in a final attempt to make herself feel more than worthless, she "volunteers" to become the next Renegai tutor in the assassin caves. Unofficially, Ileni's mission is to uncover the details behind the deaths of two preceding Renegai tutors--circumstances surrounding their death seemed unusual.
With a reckless death wish, and a ton of inner conflict, Ileni arrives at the assassin caves where she is immediately tested for skill and worthiness. At the same time, despite her death complex, she still harbors a slight survival instinct within her.
The mystery aspect was mediocre--once Ileni found out that magic had thrown the knife that killed her preceding Renegai tutor, Cadrel, I figured out the whole conspiracy in the Assassin's Caves.
The romance seemed a bit moot... and flat at the same time. Soren didn't really stand out much from the standard "broody alpha male assassin in a YA" if there is such a categorization for such a character. Basically, he wasn't very outstanding.
The entire story is carried by Ileni, and as such, I really DID enjoy following her through her monotonous day-by-days.
Nonetheless, I enjoyed the book and liked that we get a pretty kickass female heroine who can hold her own even with her dwindling magic powers. She is smart and resourceful and sometimes having her wits about her is better than having any kind of physical or magical power.
I am looking forward to seeing how the conflict in this series continues on.
Overall: Enjoyable with potential, but could have been more exciting. A great female main character, but no one else really stands out. A predictable mystery, but written well nonetheless.