Monday, November 4, 2013

Book Review: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Pages: 549
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: April 3, 2012
Source: Personal Copy
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "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's 15th century Brittany and Ismae is in a bad situation.  Her father, a scoundrel, marries her off for money to a pig farmer and once he sees Ismae's scars, he practically kills her and throws her in a cellar.  Apparently Ismae's scar indicates that her mother tried to abort her and the fact that Ismae survived means that she is a descendant of the god of death, Mortain.  Because of this, she is rescued and sent to the convent of St. Mortain where the nuns aren't your typical nuns: they are trained killers.  They subscribe to the philosophy that they don't decide who to kill or when to kill; they take orders from St. Mortain as he marks his victims.  Ismae's first assignment is at Brittany's high court where she must figure out who is committing treason against the duchess, Anne.  Robin LaFevers' Grave Mercy is an imaginative read where history collides with fiction effortlessly.

How could you not love Ismae in Grave Mercy? I always love a heroine that is an underdog and overcomes her upsetting past.  It doesn't hurt that she is a trained assassin and kicks guys' butts. I love her determination and fire.  And did I mention that she was trained by assassin nuns? Why didn't I think of this?!

While at court, Ismae has to go undercover and finds herself spying on many occasions in Grave Mercy.  These parts of the story flew by and had me flipping the pages to find out who exactly is committing treason.  The convent suspects Anne's half-brother, Duval.  He is Anne's biggest supporter, but nonetheless, Ismae must figure out where his true loyalties lie even if she starts to have feelings for him.  Plus, Brittany is trying to secure its independence from France, so they are always on the precipice of war.  Possible suitors for the duchess are lurking at every corner and Ismae must help the high court navigate through this treacherous time filled with political intrigue.  Needless to say, there's a lot of drama and action in Grave Mercy.

I didn't fall in love with Grave Mercy for two reasons. One: it's so darn long. Seriously. It's almost 550 pages and unless I am reading a high fantasy by Tolkien, I fear it's too long for young adults.  On the other hand, the parts that were action packed flew by.  Also, the romance is a reallllly slow burn.  I sometimes like this, but it's really slow going in Grave Mercy....just a word of warning for fellow readers who like their romance to be a bit stronger.

LaFevers does an awesome job bringing the 15th century to life and the historical details were fantastic.  I loved living in Ismae's dark world where nothing is predictable. So, in sum, for me the best thing about Grave Mercy is the fact that Ismae is such a strong female. I love that!  I plan on checking out book two in the His Fair Assassin series, Dark Triumph, which already came out this past April and focuses on Sybella, a secondary character in Grave Mercy.

12 comments:

  1. I love slow burning romances, but the book has to be fairly slim for me to endure it. I don't think I could stomach that much! Thanks for the great review, Christina! :)

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    1. I know, right?! It was no doubt a good story, but the length was a problem for me at times. Thanks for visiting, Melissa.

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  2. Sorry you didn't love it. I guess 'cause I read the eBook I didn't really realize how big it was. I guess I like slow burn too. :)

    GREAT review.

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    1. Don't get me wrong...I enjoyed it, but was just frustrated at times with the daunting length. Thanks for visiting, Juju!

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  3. This book is surprisingly engrossing for a historical. Glad you loved it!

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    1. I know, right?! Depsite its length, I was into it! Thanks for visiting!

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  4. Hmmmm. I've read nothing but glowing reviews about this book Christina, so it was nice to see you point out a small flaw. Especially since it's definitely something that pertains to me as a reader. I love my romance to be prominent and nicely paced, I can't help it! I love a slow build, but if it's too slow I get frustrated and just want to skip ahead to the next scene where they're together, and I can see myself doing that here. That being said though, you still gave it a 4 and that's a great sign. I've heard Dark Triumph is even better, so I can't wait to see what you think!

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    1. Thanks, Jenny! I know we have some of the same issues with the slow burn and the length, so I thought I would put it out there. I have heard book two is awesome, so I will def. plan on checking it out! Thanks for dropping by!

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  5. I really liked Grave Mercy and I didn't notice the length (maybe because I read it on Kindle). I still haven't read the sequel though that is a big book too.

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    1. I think I will read the sequel, but I will have to be in the mood for a longer one. Thanks for visiting, Christina!

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  6. I keep putting off reading this one, mostly because of the size. Glad that it's a great story, even if it is insanely long!

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  7. It really is sort of insanely long...seriously, but if you like historical fiction, then you will find it entertaining for the most part. I hope you get to read it soon! Thanks for dropping by, Lea!

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I really appreciate your comments. Thank you!

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