Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Why Be The Sheep When You Can Be The Wolf?

"There is no shame in scars"
--Robin LaFevers, Grave Mercy

Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 549 pages
Publication Date: April 3rd, 2012
Source: Borrowed from library

Goodreads Description

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?

My Thoughts

You all KNOW how much I obsess over historical fiction. Why I waited so long before sinking my teeth into Grave Mercy is beyond me. This book has everything I love—historical setting, badass chick, political intrigue, and a swoony guy. This book is thick, maybe where some of my hesitation came in, but seriously, it flew by! So back to the story…

Ismae is our main character and is rescued from a heinous marriage and sent to the convent of Mortain--the god of Death. She is said to be sired by Death himself and because of this, she is to be trained as a handmaiden of death himself aka an assassin. Never wanting to feel constrained by men again she trains and becomes an expert at the art of killing a man. Hello, badass! I was in lust with this early on. Ismae eventually gets sent on an assignment to act as mistress to Gavriel Duval in order to uncover a traitor who is serving the French. Phew. Sounds confusing, but really it isn’t when you’re reading.

Ismae—LOVE. I love that she is so committed to her duty of serving Mortain. She takes it very seriously and wants nothing more than to prove her worth to those who took her in when she needed it most. What I also love is that when legitimate doubts start to creep in, she doesn’t rashly act. She weighs all the evidence and takes her time in sorting our her thoughts and opinions. This probably doesn’t make sense if you haven’t read it, but I don’t like when a main character throws away everything they’ve known when one seed of doubt is placed. I liked that Ismae looked at all sides of the story then acted accordingly to what she believed in her heart. She is a fantastic character and I loved reading her story.

The surrounding characters are equally amazing. Duval, swoon. Fiercely protective of his sisiter, intelligent, strong, sarcastic. I LOVED him and I was so fanning myself while reading. You all know how much I love a military man. Their relationship is slow and burning and the sexual tension is so thick you just want to die! It is amazing! The duchess, though young, is a force to be reckoned with and I was pulling for her right along with Ismae and Duval. This little girl needed guidance and protection and those who were actually willing to go the distance were few and far between unfortunately.

The political intrigue and plot twists kept me guessing. As with all court dramas, you never really know who to trust and I love this in stories. The constant questioning of loyalty and who to trust always keeps me turning the pages. I loved seeing Ismae act out her duties and talking about all the ways she can kill a man and the weapons at her disposal. It was so incredibly interesting to me all the options she had when trying to end a man’s life.

With that said, the growth that Ismae goes through is fantastic. She thoroughly believes in one thing at the beginning and reading about her finding her own voice and opinions was lovely. I love that she trusted her own heart and her own reasoning when coming to conclusions about people. I really didn’t know where or how this story was going to end and I have to say, the ending is perfect. I just LOVED it.

I cannot WAIT to read Dark Triumph. I think this is an amazing idea for a collection of books and I loved reading about this time period, the assassins, and the court intrigue. Oh, and the dresses, I love reading about the fashions!

Should You Read This? YES! Especially if you are a fan of historical fiction—yes! Even if you’re not, I think the idea of assassin nuns and fighting for what is right will have you turning the pages


  1. I LOVE this book. So glad you felt the same. Gavriel Duval....swoon. Omg I loved him so much. I loved all the political drama going on in this book. It was my favorite part. Ismae is such a badass. Love her! Great review!

  2. I don't know why, but I've been wary of this book! Hearing that you loved this one definitely makes me want to give it a chance though. The concept sounds brilliant, and I love Ismae already!

  3. Oh I really loved this book! So much so that I went and pre-ordered Dark Triumph but... I STILL haven't read it at this point. Isn't that sad? But you did just remind me of how much I liked the first book, so I should make that happen soon.

  4. Wasn't this book fabulous? It just sucks you in! I literally read it in a day. I couldn't put it down! And although it wasn't *quite* as addicting, I actually loved Dark Triumph even more. I can't wait for the third!


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