Risuko’s father was a samarai, but his death has left her family poor. And that is why Risuko’s mother sells her to Lady Chiyome. However, she soon finds that the Lady has plans for her – she’s brought back to the school that Lady Chiyome started to train shrine maidens – but they’re more than just priestesses – some of the women are trained as assassins, and more.
Risuko arrives with two other novices, and they begin their training in the kitchen with the Korean cook – even that isn’t as must drudgery as it would seem – they’re learning about healing herbs, and various other things that can be done with food.
As time goes on, it seems that someone is trying to steal something from the envoy of the local lord who’s staying with them. When most of the rest of the temple falls under a sleeping potion, Risuko must figure out who’s the enemy in the temple, and rescue everyone else.
Risuko’s a great character. This is definitely a young adult book, so it’s pretty straightforward, but she pulls you in quickly, and you want to read more to see what she does next.