Source: Netgalley/Houghton Mifflin Books – I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I received no compensation.
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books
Edition: Egalley, 560
Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository
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?
Yep, this is going to be another one of my rare 5 star reviews where I have a hard time not gushing uncontrollably about how much I adore the book. I can tell you without a doubt in my mind that I will be buying this the first opportunity I get, but I digress…let me tell you why I’m so enamored.
Grave Mercy is a fairly large book with an equally large plot filled with history, intrigue, murder, a dash of supernatural, and one kick-butt heroine. Not to mention a wonderful hero, and some awesome assassination techniques that will make you wish you could trade places with her. This is a book that not only starts off strong and rich but it also finishes the same way, if not stronger.The plot I found to be fantastic, well thought out and unique. While LaFevers says that the book is not entirely historically correct she does weave enough actual history in that it feels very real. The writing is crisp and fluid and really gives a true voice to the main character, Ismae. Not to mention the fact that the 1st person point of view was executed wonderfully and avoided making the story far too one-sided in scope. The inclusion of the various gods/patron saints was a brilliant touch and I loved the slight supernatural aspect to the story, it’s not forced and it really gives the book an edge to it that is hard to forget. I loved all the twists and turns the plot takes and it makes the book extremely hard to put down. There are so many plots and so much intrigue that I had a hard time trying to figure out who was behind it all, and I had cycled through so many of the characters that they all seemed likely candidates. Needless to say I was hooked.
Ismae is a fantastic main character who has real depth and actually evolves over the course of the story. Her back story was really interesting and right from the beginning you begin to connect to the character in some way. She’s one of those rare characters that really do feel possible, her emotions are real and her actions are all understandable. I loved the fact that she is part of a convent raised order of assassins, it’s such a new and cool idea. Then of course there is Duval, the main male in the story. Oh how sigh-worthy this man is, he’s definitely on my list of favorite fiction men now. His interaction and relationship with Ismae is one that I really enjoyed reading about and watching evolve, nothing about it was forced and the dialog flowed perfectly. All of the other various characters through out were equally as rich as Ismae and Duval, and even if some where only mentioned a few times I had a clear image of what they were like.
I do have to admit that at one point I felt like I could cry, and since I’m not a weeper when in comes to books it’s definitely noteworthy. Overall this was a fantastic and fun read, that despite it’s size I had no qualms about reading it continuously. This book was so finely crafted that every word was a jewel and I couldn’t help but read more. I truly did try to think of flaws in this as I rarely give out 5 stars, but even after thinking about it all night and most of the next morning I couldn’t come up with a single thing. I am truly in love with this book.