Grave Mercy by R.L LaFevers

Grave Mercy by R.L LaFeversGrave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
Series: His Fair Assassin #1
Genre: Fantasy, Historical
Release Date: April 3, 2012
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Source: Gift
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars
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
This was a Christmas gift from my favourite person and I loved it tbh :’) A historical fantasy about assassin nuns?? SIGN ME UP. The novel follows the story of Ismae, a young girl recruited by nuns who are actually badass assassins with a hand in political matters. And by that I mean they send recruits off to kill those people unfortunate enough to end up on their hit list; I find myself wondering how much more efficient modern politics could be with the threat of assassins hanging over politicians’ heads. Hmmmmm. Ismae is taught the art of killing in a convent (!!!), learning everything from poisoning to using her sexuality and femininity to isolate potential victims. Armed with these skills Ismae is sent to the royal court and eliminate all threats. Also romance, because this is YA and that’s like a necessary requisite around these parts, I guess.

I think this book is way more successful at emulating popular fantasies like ASOIAF than some other books that have been advertised as such  – it blends history, politics and the fantastical into a very well-balanced story that is refreshingly different. Ismae, our main character, is both vulnerable and kickass; it’s easy to believe that while she is a trained assassin, she’s still a teenager with many unresolved issues and it makes her an interesting character. A lot of her conflict derives from the romantic subplot and I actually thought it gave an edge to what could have otherwise been a pretty generic romance because it raises the question of identity and freedom of choice. It’s even more intriguing considering that the author chose to set her story at a time when women had little to no freedom in their everyday lives, a fact Ismae learns very early on in the novel.

The romance itself was pretty good in the sense that it didn’t bore me. Ismae’s love interest is a generic brooding type, I don’t even remember his name so like *waves hand* Even so, the slow build up of their romance is effective because then every touch and word feels earned. Ngl every time their hands made with the touching I felt emotions. I do like how the story resolves their relationship because all throughout it is about Ismae choosing her own path.

I liked so much about this novel – I love historical fiction and stories about women; this book is both and I loved it. I will say this though – the kind of story the author weaves in this book works because it’s different but I don’t think the next book in the series because it feels too much like a rinse and repeat of the same story.

Page Count: 484