Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
Series: His Fair Assassin #1
Source: Review copy from publisher
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?
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There was a NetGalley blitz for this book and so I thought I’d give it a shot. I love a good historical and the set up for this book sounded fantastic. It’s gotten some great reviews online so I had high expectations going in and GRAVE MERCY. I’m pleased to report that were 100% met!
GRAVE MERCY has been marketed as YA but it’s totally accessible for adults, too. I’m a dabbler when it comes to YA since I sometimes find them a little too short and/or not as well developed as adult novels, though there are definitely some exceptions to this rule (GRACELING by Kristin Cashore, for example). With GRAVE MERCY, we again have an exception since I think it was marketed as YA purely because the heroine happens to be a teenage girl. But Ismae isn’t your typical teen since she’s been training to be an assassin for years at the convent of St. Mortain. She’s not terribly interested in my traditional teenage business — instead, she spends her time wondering when she’ll be sent on her next assassination mission. Ismae is a great main character because she’s got big responsibilities and takes her duties seriously, but not so seriously she follows orders without question once she’s out in the world. She has a maturity that will appeal to a lot of readers, not just young adults, but she’s also got some self doubt since she’s relatively new to the game and is sent on a very complicated mission.
The plot is also extremely satisfying. And addictive. I started reading the book before bed, intending to read a chapter or two, and I was almost halfway through before I knew it, much to my regret the next day. You’ll be drawn into the intrigue from the outset, waiting with bated breath to see how Ismae would fare.
Another aspect of the book that I loved is the world that Robin LaFevers has created. I love a good historical and GRAVE MERCY (and presumably the rest of the trilogy) is set in medieval France. I’m no expert but the world felt authentic and I loved exploring it. The settings really came alive for me and I really felt immersed in each location.
GRAVE MERCY has assassin nuns and political intrigue in medieval France. Why haven’t you bought your copy yet??
This book was one of the many titles on my NetGalley Knockout list.
Thanks, as always, to Christen of Goldilox and the Three Weres for hosting this challenge.