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?(synopsis from Goodreads)
Grave Mercy by R.L. LaFevers is the first novel in a new
trilogy entitled His Fair Assassin. Within these five hundred and fifty-eight
pages you will be transported back in time and taken on a journey that contains
all the key elements of a great tale. There is suspense, murder, a heroine, a
hero and a villain. Stir in a little history, the God of Death, supernatural
elements, wickedly cool assassin techniques and you have a tale that will grab
you from page one. Thus was my experience with Grave Mercy.
The protagonist is sixteen year old Ismae. The child of a
turnip farmer, who has despised her since birth. Eager to be rid of her, he
marries her off for a price. When her new husband, a beast of a man bids her to
undress, his eyes fall to the scar that runs down her back and runs screaming
to the priests to have his marriage annulled. She finds sanctuary at the
convent of St. Mortain. Here she learns what she is and is offered the chance
to serve as a handmaiden to death. She will train to become an assassin. Having nothing to lose and finally feeling
like she belongs, Ismae readily accepts. Her she learns the art of being an
assassin, is trained in political history and all manner of skills. On her
second assignment, she encounters Duval who is brother to the Duchess of
Brittany. He is there to question the man Ismae has just assassinated. Duval
then appears at the convent demanded answers. The reverend mother informs Ismae
that she will be accompanying Duval to protect the Duchess of Brittany. The tale that unfolds was absolutely
riveting, the history, the suspense, the plots..Oh the plots…it was wonderful!
While I determined who the villain was, a lot of key players went back and
forth on my list. Watching the events unfold and seeing Ismae and Duval work
together kept me turning the pages at a maddening pace.
LaFevers not only takes us back in history with her
deliciously suspenseful tale, she provides us with fascinating characters with
depth and humor. Ismae is bright, witty,
fearless, independent, and wants to perform her duties to God and Country. Her life has not been easy and it’s wonderful
to watch her grow, make decisions for herself and understand not everything is
black and white. Duval is dedicated to protecting his sister at all costs, burdened
by being the bastard son of the late king, he tries to be true. Together he and
Ismae must determine who is in league with the French. His trusted friends Beast, and DeLornay were
delightful and I grew attached to them. Ismae’s friends Sybella and Annitha
from the convent were equally intriguing and I loved their side stories.
While LaFevers herself states the tale is not historically
accurate she weaved enough truth into the novel to make it believable and it
made for an intrigue tale. While the tale is longer than most young adult
novels on the market, it was well written and evenly paced. I drank in every
page and was sadden to see it end. The romance was delightful and genuine. This
was not a case of instant-a-love, but rather one that developed out of respect
I highly recommend Grave Mercy to fans of historical
fiction, fantasy, suspense and romance laced with supernatural elements. I am anxious to get my hands on the second
novel entitled Dark Triumph. This will tell the story of Sybella. It is
expected to be published in the spring of 2013. Grave Mercy will be published
on April 3, 2012 and be available in paper and eBook formats. R.L. LaFevers has over sixteen published
works including the Theodosia Throckmorton series and Nathaniel Fludd
Beastologist series. I plan to check out more of her work, and have added her
to my list of must read authors.
Cover: Love it! The dress, the cross bow and the castle in
the background set the mood for this tale...it's brilliant :)
I want to thank netGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
publishing for providing me with this ARC in exchange for my unbiased review.
I gave this novel 5 coffee cups out of 5
Read an excerpt and see the trailer:Grave Mercy
R. L. LaFevers
Order your copy here:
Labels: eBook Challenge 2012, historical fiction, paranormal romance, R.L. LaFevers, Young-adult fiction