Grave Mercy

Grave Mercy
By Robin LaFevers
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Published on April 2012
Source: Around the World ARC Tours

Summary taken from Goodreads:

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?

Nun Assassins- need I say more?  Grave Mercy follows the story of Ismae as she grows and develops as a handmaiden for death.  Given the summary above, you would think that most of this story takes place in the convent-  I would say the summary for Goodreads covers the first eighth of the book.  

Rachel LaFevers is a fantastic writer.  The idea of being an assassin and an assassin in the high court of Brittany has a few paths it could take- it could be full of smut and bed hopping (bodice ripper), it could be all action and get pretty gruesome, but the author steers expertly away from both of these paths.  She uses innuendos and hinting passion and writes her assassinations in a way that isn't as gruesome as it is calculated like a puzzle. 

I have to say, Rachel LaFevers is an author to watch.  I would compare Ismae and the flow of Grave Mercy to the works of Maria V Snyder and Tamora Pierce (or even Robin McKinley).  This is a historical fantasy book that is hefty.  It moves slowly, meticulously winding all parts of the story together to make a complete and action packed ending.  If you are looking for instant love or a book that rushes to get in as much action as possible- this is not the book to read. The author takes her time and makes the reader anticipate what will happen. (As a side warning, I will mention, although the events in Ismae's life go quickly in the first few chapters, i did struggle with them- but after getting to the high court the book REALLY takes off!)

I am looking forward to reading the next books in this series. I can't wait to see what happens to the main characters, and even the side characters that I have grown to enjoy!

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