Author: R.L. LaFevers
Release Date: April 3, 2012
Published by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
"Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?"
Fourteen-year-old Ismae has lived most of her life in an abusive home and when after the death of her mother she is given into marriage to the local pig farm Guillo who on her wedding night proceeds to give her the worst beating she's ever experienced finds that sometimes there IS a light at the end of the tunnel. The local herbwitch rescues her and secrets her far away to the convent of St. Mortain where Ismae learns that being the daughter of The God of Death Himself is NOT a bad or evil thing to be ashamed of and beaten for, but is something she can be very proud of. She learns she has been given many gifts by Him and the nuns help her learn to enhance and wield each and every gift she has to become one of the most lethal people possible who carries out the will of Mortain. When at the age of seventeen-years-old Ismae is sent on her newest mission to infiltrate the royal courts with the help of one who knows intrigue and strategy like no other... will she be able to exact Death's vengeance on those who are marked...or will she fail her new family who has given her everything she never hoped for?
My thoughts: WOW! When it comes to historical novels, they have to really be something special for me to not only get into them, but finish them...and this one had it all! This had action, adventure, royal intrigue, a forbidden romance, honor and friendship, mystery and more! I mean it's nun assassins! Are you kidding!? How wicked is that!?
This one also gave me a lot to talk about too. I think I've chattered about this book more than I have any other lately! It's just that cool and different. Grave Mercy really made me think about women and how they were treated at both ends of the socio-economic ladder. It didn't matter which end you were on, whether you were a duchess or a turnip farmer's daughter, you still had very few choices in life and rarely any say at all. Men had all the power and say, while women were basically cattle given/sold to the highest choice that served the men the most where they were expected to work themselves to the bone and bare as many children as fast as possible. What a brutal world we live in, which has leaped forward in many places over the years, but is still just this brutal in so many ways in other places in the world. But it's not just the women issues...it's also the idea of the God of Death and how the convent that has molded her into all that she is, also seems to have completely unprepared her for the "real world" of serving her God. This is so often true when you are out on your own and making decisions...How will you react? How will you know what is right? What will you decide? What if everything you've been told is the opposite of what really is? Then what? Dang! This was just SO good!
Final thoughts: If you want to go on an amazing adventure of intrigue and mystery with an incredibly resilient character...this is the book for you! I realized afterwards that the book was over 500 pages, but hadn't even noticed while I was reading since I loved it so much! I CAN'T WAIT for the next book in LaFever's His Fair Assassin trilogy!