Author : Robin LaFevers
Publisher : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Source : Bought
Pages : 549 (Hardback)
Summary 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?
Book trailer :
I was so excited to read Grave Mercy since it was just a pretty cover, somehow I knew I would love it because of the historical background and the idea about a nun being an assassin, in order to serve the god of Death. Woah, it sounds really bad-ass. I am always thrilled on the stories that have characters with controversial jobs like assassin, con-men or spy, I curious how the author would do the story with it. And heck yeah, my feeling was right. I loved this book! I thought I would find another controversial thing regard to certain religion since it related to 'nun' and 'convent' and 'god of death, it made me felt both anxious and excited, but I was wrong and LaFevers was wise enough to make the topic quite 'general' and a bit fantastical. Though I only had an access to this book for just several hours at night, I was always eager to continue reading, to know what would have happened next.
Not like an average YA series, Grave Mercy is quite complicated. Generally it's about Ismae's adventure to fulfil assignments from god of Death, takes down everyone who is 'marked' by the Death, means he/she is a traitor of the high court of Brittany (the reason why Death kind of takes a side to the Great Brittany was one that somehow bugging me). But then after Ismae successfully infiltrates into the courts, thanks to Gavriel Duval, an illegitimate son of the late Duke and a French whore, she is inevitably involved in a twisted politic intrigue and conspiracies. Moreover things become more complicated to her when she's undeniably attracted to someone who might be her next assignment to be eliminated and soon she starts to questioning the reliable of the 'mark' and the convent of Death itself.
Practically this book is mostly about politic intrigue and conspiracy and it's quite a long read and in my case, I sometimes met some difficulties to keep up with the story, sometimes I forgot things; although it amazed me that there was no single wasted scene in this book. So probably this book would not too suitable for those who seeks for light reading. I occasionally enjoy historical fiction so it was not really hard for me to like, even love this book. I think the story is quite deep and developed very well, the politic and the guessing part were really fascinating for me.
Talking about the characters and relationship between them, I really adored both Ismae and Duval. Ismae is one brilliant and strong heroine, reading about her was really interesting. Although she's very loyal to her convent and especially god of Death, she's also quite open-minded to every possibilities and has quite faith to her own heart about what is right and wrong. Then there's Duval. Gavriel Duval, wow, what a gorgeous name! The same gorgeous as himself =D. Duval is kind of perfect, fine and chivalrous gentleman you'd find on historical fiction and he has so many honorable qualities in him. He's wise and smart enough to be more cautious, even about Ismae at first. He's also very loyal to his country and his family, I love seeing his affection towards her younger half-sister and to his mother though it's rather in cold way.
There's definitely no insta-love, instead Ismae and Duval spend a lot of time together to finally realize they love each other. I really loved that sometimes they both put down their tensity and go cute bickering, or then Duval can be really sweet and respectful to Ismae. They're really matching in many ways.
Considering the book's heavy and intriguing content though it's not too explicit, Grave Mercy probably would be suitable for older Young Adult. I really recommend this book to everyone who could enjoy historical fiction with subtle yet fast pace, intriguing politics with fantasy twist and slow but deep romance development between two main characters. Now I really can't wait to read the sequel, Dark Triumph, which is out this April.
Happy reading, guys! =)