YA Historical Paranormal
564 pages, hardcover
Available April 3, 2012
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Review copy provided by publisher
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?
Positive: A convent of assassin nuns. I mean, how can you go wrong? They’re nuns who kick ass on behalf of the god of Death. They know a thousand ways to kill those marked by Death, slipping in and out before anyone even knows they’re there. Ismae, a young nun on her first assignment after years of training, is one awesome assassin.
Positive: Unusual historical setting. Set in 13th century Brittany when it was still a country unto itself, GRAVE MERCY brought the ancient world to life. LaFevers uses real-life people and events, such as Brittany’s struggle to maintain its independence in the face of a much stronger France and the young queen’s difficult decisions on behalf of her country, to build a strong framework for her story.
Positive: Twisty politics and a love story all wrapped into one. There’s some serious political maneuvering going on as Anne, Brittany’s young ruler, plots with her trusted (and untrustworthy) advisers to keep the country out of France’s greedy hands. And then there’s the love story between Ismae and Duval. Bastard half-brother to Anne, Duval is also her main adviser, and Ismae works with him to uncover a nasty plot against Anne. When Duval is first introduced, there didn’t seem to be a connection between him and Anne. But, as they got to know one another, a deep love and healthy respect developed. It was quite sweet.
Wish: That I didn’t have to wait until next spring for the next book in the series. According to the ARC, DARK TRIUMPH (His Fair Assasin #2) will feature Sybella, another assassin nun and friend of Ismae. Half-broken and on the brink of madness, Sybella is sent on a mission to infiltrate the household of a power-hungry lord to do Death’s bidding.
Overall: Thought the book weighs in at a hefty 564 pages, its fascinating characters, unexpected love story, and political shenanigans make the pages fly by.
Latest posts by Mary @ TheBookSwarm (see all)