Author: R.L. LaFevers
Series: His Fair Assassin #1
Release: April 3rd, 2012
Book Depository | Indie Bound | Goodreads
Received for review from NetGalley; this had no effect on the outcome of this review.
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?
So, take YA historical fiction, throw in a dash of paranormal, a heavy heaping of romance, a bit of intrigue and some ASSASSIN NUNS, and you have Grave Mercy. It's definitely a unique book, as I haven't read anything like it in YA lately.
Ismae is an incredibly strong character - from the start of her journey toward being an ASSASSIN NUN to the main plot and the way she weaves herself into it, she's always very present, and you're always very aware of her. Whether you like or dislike her as a character, there's no doubt she leaves an impression. I found myself wanting to shake her at times, even dipping into the occasional bout of dislike in certain chapters, but eventually she won me over. Some of her character progression was predictable, but I enjoyed reading the conflict between her ASSASSIN NUN life and her budding romance.
The plot itself...is interesting. So much intrigue, so many twists and turns, and yet it all gets buried under the romance. I found the romance aspect nice, but there came a point where it got to be too much when I just wanted to find out who the traitor was. At times, this felt way too much like a historical romance novel that had been branded YA simply because of Ismae's age and the toned down violence. Everything about it from the tone to the plot to the depth of the romance seems to scream adult fiction. Which isn't a bad thing, don't get me wrong.
It was a decent read. The aspects I liked (the intrigue, Ismae's growth) just barely outweighed the ones I didn't (romaaaaaance), and I especially enjoyed that there was only a dash of paranormal, and it's treated as normal in Ismae's world. I don't know that I'd immediately recommend this to anyone, but it's worth a shot if you're the type of person who really likes a little intrigue and ASSASSIN NUNS in their YA historical romance.