Friday, April 20, 2012

Grave Mercy by R.L. LaFevers

Title: Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1)
Author: R.L. LaFevers
Publication Date: April 3, 2012
Length: 528 pages

Ismae is a daughter of Mortain, the God of Death, and at the start of this story, she is living in a small village where her abusive father is marrying her off to a husband who's no better. But then she is taken away to a convent, where she will serve Mortain by assassinating those who bear his marque.

This book was not really what I was expecting. There isn't really a whole lot of assassinating in it, and there's more than a little politics and romance. At times I felt like it was going too slowly. Over time, though, I became more interested in the politics, and it became really interesting. I'm not really sure of this book's target audience, though. It's marketed as young adult (and sexy times are appropriately glossed over), yet I imagine most teenagers being rather bored.

I really liked how Ismae's understanding of Mortain and her role as his handmaiden developed throughout the story. At the beginning I was already poking holes in the convent's explanation of things, and was pleased to see Ismae question things as well.

I quite enjoyed the romance. I'm not really a romance kind of person when it comes to books, but if it's done well (read: if it's just the right amount of sexy, and is realistic), I can enjoy it. One thing I did not like, however, was Ismae's whole conception of her sexuality. It's weird. First of all, she conveniently skips most of her classes at the convent on the "womanly arts", so she seems to have little idea of how romance, seduction, love, and sex even work. And seriously, for like two thirds of the book, she's all jumpy every time the guy touches her (he helps her off her horse, she hurriedly pushes his hands away), and she doesn't seem to understand her feelings. She's all "oh goodness, why is my heart fluttering, and why are my loins a-quivering?!" (I paraphrase, but you get the point).

But yes, political intrigue! Assassin nuns who have cool powers because their father is the god of death! Recommended for fans of historical fiction with just a touch of fantasy.

Full disclosure: Free e-book copy received from the publisher through NetGalley.


  1. Very interesting and helpful review. The cover screams YA but if they would be bored that's kind of a bummer. I think it is a good fit for me though.

    1. Yeah, I mean, I'm not saying every "young adult" (what is that age range supposed to be, anyway?) would be bored, but certainly this book is not your typical fast-paced, light YA novel. I think it makes more sense as historical fiction; the 17 year old main character seems to be what makes it YA.

  2. The whole storyline, to Grave Mercy is incredible and thought-provoking. Robin LaFevers managed to transport me into the story with Ismae and Duval. I could feel their urgency to discover the truth. I, too, wanted to find out who was betraying the duchess. More than once, I suspected almost everyone. You just don't know who to trust and everyone and anyone becomes suspicious. Because of this, there is this sense of danger and suspense lurking every corner of the page that kept me on my toes throughout the whole story. ''

  3. I like that you recommend this book for basically everyone. I just started it and I am loving it so far! Can't wait to get to the real meat of the story.

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