Grave Mercy by Robin LaFeversAfter years of waiting, I finally did it guys - I finally dove in and read Grave Mercy! This is one of those books I always knew I'd enjoy and there's no excuse to explain why I waited so long to finally get to it. It might not have been a fast read - mostly due to my current busy schedule rather than the actual size of the book, but Grave Mercy caught my interest quickly, and every moment I did have to devote to the story kept me glued to it's pages, eager to unravel its mysteries...
His Fair Assassin #1
Published April 3rd 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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 & 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?
Grave Mercy starts off by introducing us to Ismae, a poor, abused girl, sold off to a monster in marriage by her own father, a monster in his own right. Ismae barely escapes a fate worse than death *shudder* by being offered refuge in a convent where the sisters serve Saint Mortain; or Death Himself. Yeah. Here, Ismae learns that she is connected to Death in her own very special way and that, if she so chooses, the sisters will train her in St Mortain's arts, meaning she'll be trained as an assassin to deal out Death's will. How do you not get hooked into a premise like that?!
As the main protagonist, I connected to Ismae right from the word go. Without being overtly aggressive, she manages to come off as deadly. She's calm, soft-spoken and kind, despite all the hardships she suffered, but she's also filled with a steely resolve. She more than welcomes the opportunity to deal out death to vile, corrupt men, instead of being forced to serve them as the historical setting dictates. And so Ismae begins her training with poisons, (which were seriously cool and one of my favorite aspects of the book! I wonder what that says about me...) self-defence, concealment and even seduction - ooh la la. All the skills she'll need to trick and scheme her way to striking down those the Convent deem worthy of death.
Despite it's slowish start and overall steady pacing, I found myself quickly wrapped-up in this world of assassins, court-drama, political intrigue, romance and suspense. While I briefly wished that we would have been privy to the entirety of Ismae's training with the sisters, I was quickly swept away by her new (undercover) task within the high court of Brittany. I enjoyed watching our heroine learn to navigate the court while staying true to herself. Despite it's historical setting, I was pleasantly surprised by how Grave Mercy didn't relinquish women to being hopeless and subservient. Even more surprising is the fact that a YA-novel managed to pull off a deliciously slow-burn romance without a hint of a love-triangle. Ismae never once lost her head to silly romantic notions. Instead, she relied on herself, her skill and her brains to figure out how to act - even when surprising revelations threatened to pull the rug out from under her. My hat goes off to author Robin LaFevers for accomplishing such an admirable feat - one rarely seen in young adult fiction today
So we've got assassins, an awesome protagonist, Death incarnate, and a seriously swoon-worthy, realistic romance (that I'm trying very hard not to gush about...OMG Duval ♥). What more could a girl ask for? Well, full disclosure: As much as I adore political/court intrigue in my adult fantasies, I wasn't completely swept away by those aspects in Grave Mercy. Some of the finer details tended to blur together for me. I found wishing for those parts had more kick to them because they fell a bit flat compared to the rest of the book. All things considered though, I really enjoyed this book a lot. I can't believe I waited so long to read it. I certainly won't be holding off too long to read the next book in the series!
My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars