Lovin' los libros

A book blog dedicated to young adult and new adult novels

Review: Grave Mercy by R.L. LaFevers

By 6:03 PM , , , ,

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1)
   by: R.L. LaFevers

Publication Date: Apr. 3, 2012
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genre: Historical Fiction
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: Borrowed from Library
Page Count: 549 pages
Order Links: Amazon | B&N
My Rating: 4/5 stars

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?

                       -goodreads.com description

When I first read the summary I knew this book was a must-read. A young girl who escapes her brutal upbringing and an arranged marriage, trained to be an assassin at a nun convent? UM, YES! Oh, did I mention it's set in 15th century France?

I'm always nervous about historical fantasy fiction because some authors get so caught up in their describing and world-building that they lose me. This book didn't do that. I felt I understood enough and was able to still feel immersed in the book with no problem. The pacing went fine for me and I didn't think the political aspect was too irritating, but rather fascinating.

Ismae is our female protagonist and we are introduced to a girl who has been hardened by a rough childhood. Her future is not boding well either as her husband-to-be is a worthless scrap of a man. Lucky for her, fate intervenes in the form of priest, who takes her away to a convent. Ismae is special though. She is the daughter of St. Mortain, the patron saint of death. She is trained by the other nuns to be an assassin, killing those who bear the mark of death.

I loved Ismae's character. She does not let her past turn her into someone to be pitied. She is proud, but has also learned to rely on no one but herself. She truly believes in her work as an assassin and serving Mortain, therefore she does not question her duties.

She is sent to work with (and keep tabs on) the nobleman Duval, who is sarcastic, proud and quite irritated that he is forced to work with her. However, he is still quite the gentleman and is civil to her. Even though Duval has a proud exterior, I loved seeing the beginning glimpses of kindness and vulnerability that he shows to Ismae.

Even though you knew they would inevitably fall for each other, their romance is slow-building and believeable. Theirs is based on trust and I love that Ismae didn't hold back when he confronted on her certain issues. (I hate when females make it worse by not just admitting their issues)

Duval's loyalty to his half-sister Anne, the duchess of Brittany, is also wonderful to read about. Ismae also becomes close to her and is held in high esteem, despite her common upbringing.

Ismae does change throughout the story and it is fun to watch. She has been trained to follow orders without question. However, by being around Duval and her new surroundings, she begins to question that and starts to follow her heart. She realizes that she doesn't have to just kill without mercy, but she can also use her gift to bring peace as well. She realizes the convent is just an institution, and that she lives to serve St. Mortain.

I'm big into characterization and I really think LaFevers did a great job. Looking forward to the next book!

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  1. Awesome review. I have this on my TBR and definitely need to read it as soon as I'm done with my book tour ones! :D I like that you said the romance is believable, and who doesn't like a strong, cheeky protagonist who takes her fate into her own hands?

    1. Yes! Once you do, you'll have to let me know what you think! And I need to get on reading my blog tour ones too! April will be a busy month for me.

  2. This is one of my favorite books! I can't wait to get my hands on the sequel.

    Great review! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    1. Me either!! I loved this book so much! I'm excited to read Sybella's story. But I do hope Ismae and Duval make an appearance. :)

  3. Finally! A positive Grave Mercy review! I feel like recently I've only come across scathing reviews of Grave Mercy, which kills me because I tooootalllyyy LOVE the book. Anyway, awesome review! I can't wait for Sybella's story either; according to an interview with R.L. LaFevers, Sybella is an even darker and more heart-wrenching heroine than Ismae. Ahhh!! I love angsty goodness! <3

    1. Thanks Tess! Ooh, I love hearing that Sybella is going to be darker!! I loved this book, I don't see how people can't like it! I loved the characters and loved the romance between Duval and Ismae!

  4. Oh, forgot to add that I'm following! Super glad to have found your blog :)

    1. Thanks for following! I am also following you- I love finding people to chat about books with!


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