Author: Robin LaFevers
Series: His Fair Assassin #1
Published by: HMH Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: April 3, 2012
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?
I don’t care what anyone says – I loved Grave Mercy, and it now sits on my favorites shelf. I knew that I was going to like it when I first heard of it, because it sounded exactly like the type of book for me. I tried not to read many reviews before I had a chance to experience it for myself, and now that I’ve finished it, I don’t want to read or hear anything negative about it. I’ll just put my earmuffs on (haha).
So what makes it so great? Everything! The characters, the story, the writing, the setting, the cover, on and on. This is historical fiction, which I love. LaFever took a time in history and twisted it into something truly unique. The nuns in this story are not like the nuns you are familiar with… at least, I don’t think. The nuns in Grave Mercy are handmaidens to Saint Mortain, also known as Death – this was my favorite aspect of the book. I am completely fascinated with Valkyrie and other death goddesses, and this story is on the same track, sans goddess status. They are kick-ass assassins, trained in the art of weaponry, espionage, seduction, and many other ways to kill a man. Love it!
The main character is Ismae, who was sired by Death himself. The reader meets her at age seventeen being married off by her abusive step-father, to an equally abusive man. Ismae survives her wedding night and makes it to the St. Mortain convent, where her life is changed forever. But the majority of the book takes place three years later, after she has gone through her training. I loved Ismae! I don’t recall ever being frustrated or annoyed by her. She definitely does a lot of growing throughout the book, and I loved witnessing Ismae become strong on many levels
LaFever did a fantastic job with the relationship between Ismae and Duval. Those who know me, know that I’m picky about my male characters, so let me tell you that I adored Duval! The chemistry between the two was perfect, in my opinion. Actually, there were a lot of great characters in this book, and they all played off of each other well.
Grave Mercy was one of those books that I thought about a lot when I wasn’t reading it. It’s a little on the long side, so I didn’t have time to read it straight through, but it called to me every time I wasn’t reading it. It was so easy to fall into this story and feel the characters. Does that sound weird? Oh well, I don’t know how else to explain it.
So, would I recommend this book? Absolutely, no doubt about it! Grave Mercy is a must read.