Friday, March 1, 2013

Review: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Grave Mercy
His Fair Assassin #1

Author: Robin LeFevers

Publication Date:

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcort

Genre: Historical/Paranormal



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?

My Thoughts: I'll admit that I wasn't sure what I was going to think about this book.  I picked it up do to some rave reviews and ratings I had seen on it and I certainly wasn't disappointed.  I was sucked into the world of Grave Mercy the moment I open the cover and read the first page.

Grave Mercy is about a girl named Ismae.  Ismae is a daughter of Death - literally. So, when she flees from a brutal arranged marriage the only place that she will be safe is at the convent of S. Mortain.  A place where she and her sisters in death are trained to be assassins and carry out the will of their father, the death god Saint Mortain.  Ismae is the most loyal of all the novices.  She never thought that she could ever do anything against the will of her convent or her god.  However, when she is sent on a mission with the cold Gavriel Duval she will find her loyalties, beliefs and heart will be tested in ways she could never have imagined.

I love Ismae's independence.  She refuses to rely on men for anything, which given her past doesn't surprise me.  It does border on pig-headedness once in a while but, again, given her past it is easily understood why. Ismae is confident in the training provided to her in the convent in which she was raised and is a deadly assassin.  While she has her faults (and may have skipped some classes in seduction) she is one of the best novice assassins.  Watching as Ismae grows and slowly adapts to the world outside of the convent is one of my favourite parts of the novel.  It shows how she goes from blind faith and obedience without question to thinking for herself and wondering if, perhaps, the only one infallible in the world is her god and not the people who try to interpret him.

Gavriel Duval is the bastard son of the Duke.  He has lived with that all of this life and, despite it, has carved a path out for himself so that he can serve his little sister - the Duchess Anne.  When we first meet Duval he seems cold and calculating.  However, as Ismae and he begin to spend more time with each other and they start, very slowly, opening up to one another you get to see the real Gavriel Duval.  He is so sweet and kind and loyal.  He takes his oaths seriously, which is something Ismae greatly admires.  He is definitely someone readers can fall in love with along with the main character.

I really enjoyed this book.  I love historical fiction and I haven't been reading enough of it lately.  I also like how realistic it was for also being in the fantasy/paranormal genre.  The elements of fantasy were incredibly well woven into the story and not too whimsical to make them unbelievable.  It almost felt like what the "haidmaidens of death" could do would be possible even in a non-fantasy setting, if that makes sense?  Their abilities, other than the ones they were trained with, didn't seem over the top.

I wish that the next novels were also about Ismae and Duval, instead of switching characters; however, their story did come to a (sort of) finish since the book was so long, so I understand why the author would switch characters.

Overall, I really, really liked this novel.  It reminded me that I need to pick up the historical genre again once in a while.  It was also well-written and had that lovely novel affect of pulling you into their universe and not wanting to put the book down for a moment.  If you haven't looked at this book, it definitely needs to be on your TBR pile.


  1. I loved this book! I also loved how independent she was and luckily wasn't TOO pig headed. I can't wait to read the next one!

    BTW, I just emailed you guys so check the spam folder if you don't see it! :)

  2. I loved this book SO much. I stayed up all night and read it. Then I read it again. And again.

  3. I enjoy HF, but haven't read one in a while. I have been curious about this book and after reading your review I plan to pick it up soon. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I really liked this book, too! I *do* hear Dark Triumph is amazing, though, despite it being about secondary characters from this book. :)

  5. I was lucky enough to pick up this book on sale a few weeks ago but have yet to read it. I need to read more historicals, I miss them. I'm sure I'll also like Ismae's independence. Considering the world she lives in she definitely needs to rely on herself! I like seeing a character change and grown and that is one thing I'll be looking forward to seeing in Ismae. Plus this book has such an intriguing premise I'll need to read it soon to see what it's all about.


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