Wednesday, March 7, 2012

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

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 and trust.

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'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

Author's website:R. L. LaFavers

Read an excerpt and see the trailer:Grave Mercy

R. L. LaFevers

Order your copy here:

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At March 7, 2012 at 10:11 AM , Blogger Blood Rose Books said...

Hey Kimba,
I like the sound of this book and your review was so glowing that I have to ask. I noticed that the main character is 16/17, would you classify this book as a YA novel or an adult novel

At March 7, 2012 at 10:53 AM , Blogger Chapter by Chapter said...

Great review! I am so excited to read this one! I don't really read much historical fiction, but I'm hoping that reading this will change that! Everything about this book looks like it should be awesome!


At March 7, 2012 at 10:55 AM , Blogger Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer said...

It is listed as Young Adult, it is clean. The tale is timeless, complex and can be read by all ages. Keep in mind at 16/17 women in this time period were wed with children. Ismae acts much like a 26 to 30 yr old would act today.

At March 7, 2012 at 1:30 PM , Blogger LoveOfBooks said...

580? My eyes just glazed over. lol. No worries, I'm still dying to read it!

At March 7, 2012 at 3:09 PM , Blogger roro said...

currently reading this one/can\t wait 2 read more
ravishing review kim

At March 7, 2012 at 3:30 PM , Blogger Reviewing Shelf said...

Ooh, I have been seeing such amazing reviews of this one! Is this a re-readable book? I got it from NetGalley but have pre-ordered it. I am tempted to start reading! What do you suggest?

At March 7, 2012 at 4:02 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm reading it now and I'm loving it! I was a little put off by the amount of pages (because I have other things to review) but so far I don't even care, it's so engrossing.

At March 7, 2012 at 7:34 PM , Blogger Melissa (My words and pages) said...

Ooooo! I like the sound of this one. I'm not usually one for history, but I love my fantasy. :) Thanks for the great review!

At March 7, 2012 at 9:07 PM , Blogger Giselle said...

AAH I can't wait to read this one! I have a few books to get through first and it's killing me it sounds so good!!

At March 8, 2012 at 12:19 AM , Blogger Kayla Beck said...

I have this coming up in my review line, and I am so glad to hear that it is good! New follower, too, by the way! :-D

At March 8, 2012 at 5:58 AM , Blogger Marathon said...

GAAAH. I just received an e-copy of this and you are make it INCREASINGLY DIFFICULT to resist it, as it sits there beckoning me to read it. Loved your review, even if it's killing me. *LOL*


At March 8, 2012 at 7:33 AM , Blogger Meg @ A Bookish Affair said...

I know that we aren't supposed to judge a book by its cover but this one really draws you in. I'm not sure if the subject matter would really appeal to me though.

At March 8, 2012 at 7:44 AM , Blogger Sam (Realm of Fiction) said...

Brilliant review, Kimba. I have seen a lot of 4 and 5 star rating for GM recently and your review is another that has me excited to read it! :) I'm not too sure how I'll feel about the historical aspect, but I do like the sound of the rest of it. :)

At March 8, 2012 at 2:09 PM , Blogger Blodeuedd said...

I do not know. You really liked it, but another blogger really disliked it

At March 8, 2012 at 2:17 PM , Blogger Melissas Eclectic Bookshelf said...

That cover is amazing...and the book sounds great! I'm trying to cut back on my YA reading though. Since starting my blog I've gone from never having read any YA to reading about 70% YA lol


At March 8, 2012 at 6:01 PM , Blogger Bex said...

Gosh, I'm super curious about this one by nowwww! I hear awesome things about it. You think it'd be something I'd enjoy? o: LOL. *assumes K knows* I do love all the things you mention... Yeah, I think it's time I go to GR and stalk the book. ;)

At March 9, 2012 at 10:46 PM , Blogger Jewel said...

I don't usually read these types of books. But your review has definitely got me interested. The cover is amazing. Love the dress.

At March 10, 2012 at 12:52 AM , Blogger Kimberly @ Turning the Pages said...

I really, really, really want to read this one now! I love the cover for this book and I have been trying to not jump the gun and pre-order it yet but I think that idea has flown out the window :) Great review as always.
- Kimberly @ Turning The Pages

At March 16, 2012 at 1:46 PM , Blogger Sam said...

I want to read this so bad; I fell guilty though, because one of the pressing reasons I want to is because of the awesome cover!

At March 18, 2012 at 12:30 PM , Blogger Adriana C said...

I recently read Grave Mercy and I love it.
Love your review and I´m glad you also love this novel.
I can´t wait to read Dark Triumph.

At March 19, 2012 at 7:14 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! Great review im soo gonna read this..

At July 18, 2013 at 2:31 AM , Anonymous kimbacaffeinate said...

Thanks Ari, I cannot wait for book two :)

At July 18, 2013 at 2:31 AM , Anonymous Ari said...

I loved this story too, the history, the mystery, the love story.. everything. Great review!


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