Grave Mercy — Robin LaFevers

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012

grave mercy

Isme’s mother tried to expel her from her womb, but it didn’t work and she survived. She has been marked as the daughter of Mortain, God of Death. Saved from an abusive marriage and she is sent to the convent of St. Mortain. At the convent, she is taught hundreds of ways to kill a man. After her first two kills were successful, the Abbess sends Isme to Brittany’s High Court as the mistress of Breton noble, Duval. At the court, she is supposed to protect the Duchess and kill anyone that Mortain marks….even if she loves and trusts them.

Review: Grave Mercy is everything I have ever wanted in a book. There is history, magic, and romance. There are also assassin nuns, which I never thought I wanted but now I am not complete without.

Isme was delightfully real. She was insecure, and had intimacy issues, but she was also fierce, protective, smart, honest and merciful (for an assassin). I loved the Duchess, she was a brilliant character. Even though she was a supporting character, so much of the plot surrounded her that it made a huge difference that she was portrayed just as beautifully and fully as Isme. I appreciate the Duchess even more than Isme, because LaFevers had to keep Duchess somewhat historically accurate.

I really appreciated the historical accuracy. Even though this is a fantasy, it is rooted in history and the majority of the workings of Anne’s court were quite accurate. Granted Duval is a fictional character, as is Isme. I liked that LaFeavers picked a time in history where saints, gods, magic, and superstition intersected and were all very real. It made the novel more plausible.

On a side note…can you say swoon?! I absolutely adored Duval. He was so principled that he made a perfect foil for Isme, who was starting to figure out her own principles outside of the convent’s walls. I think their relationship was really well done. It complemented the other plot lines of the novel. There was so much going on with the court and the convent, the love story gave the novel a ray of light (and what can I say, I’m always a sucker for a good romance).

LaFevers weaves a darkly, elegant tale that leaves readers wanting more of castles, duchesses, assassin nuns, and subterfuge. This is a story that will captivate readers and leave them demanding more. 

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