by Robin LaFevers
Source: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Rating: LOVE! Read it now!
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?
One word: amazing Seriously, this book was just utterly fantastic! I could not put it down! I tried, believe me, but everything I was supposed to do (ya know homework, food, sleep) took a backseat to finishing this book. So, I've now made it my goal to convince you to read this book with a list (I've noticed that I've made a lot of these lately. Since when did I get organized o_O)
She's an assassin. I've noticed that I've had a really unhealthy obsession with assassins lately, but, what the heck :P They are pretty awesome. And Ismae is no exception. Strong, intelligent and fierce. But it wasn't just her strength that I fell in love with. Her growth is what made her truly admirable. Yes, even from the beginning she was strong and independent but she grows to learn more about herself. She starts of as an abused girl who finally finds her place in nunnery where she learns where she came from. As a handmaiden of Death (who was her father) it is her purpose to do his bidding. Should you bear the marque, your death will come by her hand. But on her journey acting as Duval's mistress to protect the queen and see who wishes to do the queen harm, she becomes a strong woman that, while sometimes vulnerable, learns to make her own decisions and follow what she feels is right in her heart. Her loyalty and heart are astounding. While she may be a bit tough and cold at the beginning, once you get to know her, you see how good she truly is.
(P.S. The fact that she can kill a man in one of those huge medieval dresses didn't hurt in me admiring her more :P)
2. Assassin Nuns
Honestly, need I say more?
Oh, Duval, Duval, Duval. First off, I'm pretty much guaranteed to fall for any man who knows how to handle a weapon but I really fell in love with Duval. Yes, he's your typical cold, aloof guy that you know actually has a heart underneath all that man's man attitude that he just doesn't show to Ismae. However, his loyalty and love for his sister and country made him just that much more swoonworthy! I liked his cold demeanor because I wanted to find the man beneath it. I knew he had to be good, but part of the fun is learning and figuring it out. I liked learning why he was like that and learning to fall in love with him just like Ismae did. His honorable nature coupled with his intense loyalty and heart definitely made him a man to remember.
Insta-love? What is this insta-love you speak of? Because there is definitely not a single ounce of that in this book. This is definitely my favorite type of romance. Hate (or suspicion) turned love. Oh, of course you know they are going to fall in love in the end, but it's the build-up that makes this romance much more palpable. It starts out as suspicion and lack of faith in one another, to learning to trust and rely on each other. Its slow and steady and real.
5. awesome weapons:
Knives, garrotes, swords, miniature crossbows hidden in the folds of skirts, pearls decorating the hair that are actually poisonous, plus countless other weapons? Yeah...pretty freaking awesome
6. Beautiful atmosphere:
The author definitely gets perks for creating a wonderful atmosphere throughout this book. Sometimes in historical fiction the author can drag down the book with far to many details, but LaFevers gives just the right amount to showcase the time and give a dark yet intriguing and exquisite atmosphere without bogging you down with unnecessary details. Kudos!
7. Court intrigue and politics:
If there is court intrigue and politics, I'm definitely bound to enjoy it. Its one reason I love historical fiction so much! Scandals? Scheming plots? Backstabbing? Yup, definitely my cup of tea and Grave Mercy does not disappoint. Throughout the plot there were twists and turns and I have to say, I wasn't 100% sure that I saw that coming. Yes, I kind of guessed the villain but I was not absolutely certain. I definitely changed my mind multiple time but thats alright because I like to be kept guessing!
8. Standalone! Well, technically:
NO CLIFFHANGER!! HALLELUJAH!! Actually, I'm kind of sad because I fell in love with these characters so much, but I have to say this is definitely a breath of fresh air. While it is a standalone, the following books will contain characters that are mentioned in this book but they are considered companion novels instead of sequels.
This book was fantastic. I fell in love with everything! The characters, the plot, the world-building. It was an adventure that I didn't want to end and I actually wanted to re-read it after I finished. I truly hope that all who read this enjoy it as much as I did :)
All the best ♥
Part of my 2012 Historical Fiction Challenge