Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers(Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository)
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release Date: 2012
Series: His Dark Assassin #1
Genres: Action & Adventure, Europe, Fantasy & Magic, General, Historical, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf? Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others. Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?
It is not very often (especially nowadays) that you fall in love with a book in the young adult genre. Grave Mercy is the type of book that makes you look at all other books with sadness because they can not live up to your expectations. In fact, you will be so disappointed you will never want to read again.
Okay maybe not something so dramatic but you get it. This book is great. Weighing in at around 550 pages, you might be daunted by its size. One of my pet peeves is when people refuse to read a book just because it is too long. Those people should-Well, I digress. Grave Mercy flies by, all the twists and turns will having you writhing in its amazing-ness.
Back to the actual review, I can’t sing my praises for this book enough, so let me tell you why I liked it.
First of all, it has everything I love in it. Strong heroine that never has to completely rely on others to protect her, a good love interest with a relationship that spans a long period of time to develop, bad ass nun assassins serving Death himself, historical context-queens and warfare, a plot that keeps you guessing, writing that swirls off the page, and an overall story that will keep you thinking about it long after you turned the last page.
Doing into a little more detail, the strong heroine I’m talking about is named Ismae and one of the reasons I loved her is because she grew up in one of the worst situations but never cried or whined about it. She used her experiences to strengthen her and give her life purpose. She is whisked off to a convent, which is no ordinary religious slap-on-the-wrist nunnery, but where women and girls and trained in various skills to serve their god of death, Mortain. One of Ismae’s reasons to serve the god is to make sure the things that happened to her in the past would never happen again and she would always be able to defend herself.
One of her assignments includes staying close to Gaverial Duval, the main love interest that Ismae does not trust or take to immediately. It brings her to court, a place she’d never thought she would see because of her poor upbringing and basically, she has to help save her country. Political blackmailing and less than savory threats to her country ensue and she teams up with Gaverial, who she grows closer to every day.
There are some things I did not care for in the novel, as well as a few things that were not clearly explained. But I do not want to give anything away as you should discover this book yourself.
I can see why some might not care for Grave Mercy due to a lot of it being centered around politics, but LaFevers make even this topic intriguing and enjoyable. Slow claps for you, Ms. Lafevers, you have created a wonderful piece of fiction.