Title: Grave Mercy
Author: Robin LaFevers
Series: His Fair Assassin, #1
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Young Adult
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Date Published: April 3rd, 2012
Source: eARC via Netgalley
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?
Grave Mercy is a young adult historical with a bit of fantasy mixed in. It takes place (I believe) during the 15th century and the main plot is revolving around particular political figures at that time and trying to prevent/prepare for a war. Ismae has been trained as an assassin serving Saint Mortain. I wasn’t sure who he was going into this (or if he’s real or fantasy) but apparently he is the “god of Death Himself”. So Ismae has been trained to reek out vengeance to those who have betrayed her god and apparently this directly relates to a certain duchess being crowned. I wasn’t clear on the why of that, but that’s how it is.
I am a fan of historical romances, but I haven’t read too many historicals without very much romance. This has a touch of it, but mostly the story is political in nature. While I’m not sure about the historical accuracy, the political storyline was probably where I became torn. It made the book more slow-paced, which isn’t a bad thing per se. But I prefer more fast-paced stories in general. Although I will admit that I did became pretty interested in the story and who was betraying who and how it would all turn out because it had a bit of mystery to it as well.
As far as the writing though, this was written really well. Despite not being a subject I’m normally interested in, it was easy to get lost in this book and picture everything so vividly. The world was well-formed and the characters were dynamic and realistic. There were actually a lot of times that I forgot this was a young adult. So if you’re not really a fan of young adult books but still love historicals, I would recommend picking this up because it really doesn’t read like one because Ismae is extremely mature for seventeen and it really feels like more of an adult novel, even though it would still be perfectly suitable for teens as well.
Overall, this is a good book and like I said above, I would definitely recommend it to those who like reading about historicals surrounding a political storyline. This has a bit of fantasy mixed in because Ismae does have some supernatural powers. Nothing too crazy, but probably not quite how it happened in history. But for me it’s a bit outside my reading tastes. I might consider reading the next one though because despite that I did enjoy it. So we’ll see.