Book Review : Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

March 26, 2014 Book review 22 ★★★★

An assassin nun sounded cool but when I heard the phrase “a handmaiden of death”, I got shivers.  Love the phrase, the idea and the book!

Book Review : Grave Mercy by Robin LaFeversGrave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
Series: His Fair Assassin #1
on 3 Apr 2012
Genres: Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 549
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon

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?

First Line of Grave Mercy:

“I bear a deep red stain that runs from my left shoulder down to my right hip, a trail left by the herbwitch’s poison that my mother used to try to expel me from her womb'”.

My Thoughts on Grave Mercy:

I loved it!  So much.  It’s a historical fiction/paranormal mash up and it works so well.  The world is fascinating.  I love the setting which is based on some historical facts but the author took liberties (which she explained at the end).  It is set towards the end of the Middle Ages in a war torn Brittany and is full of politics, treason and back-stabbing which makes for an edge of your seat read.

Ismae is such a cool character.  I love how paradoxical she is.  She is pure of heart but will kill you in a moment if ordered to do so.  Her father is Mortain who is the God of Death.  I would have loved to have know more about him and what exactly happened between him and Ismae’s mother (hopefully in a future book!).  Ismae loves the kill and loves to serve her God and I love how fierce she is.  She isn’t any bit squeamish about her duty and is even blood thirsty about it at times.

” “Your choice, Either way, you will die”.  My blood is singing in my veins, so happy am I to be doing my god’s work.”

As part of her work, she is sent to spy on the people surrounding the young Duchess.  The convent sends her with the Duchess’s half brother Duval with strict instructions to spy and to report back any information she comes across.  Duval is a strong, honourable character and it’s not hard to see what direction this book will take.

It is a bit predicable but every other aspect (the writing, the characters, the setting) is so well done that I can easily forgive that.  I love Ismae’s growth in the book.  She is smart and is so obviously a leader and not a follower that watching her start to question and doubt is really rewarding.  As always, it is hard to watch a woman being used as a pawn but Ismae is well able to look after herself and is an inspiration in courage and discipline.

Overall a big thumbs up and I immediately purchased the next book in the series – Dark Triump.  Can’t wait to get back into this murderous world!


Rating Report
Did I feel it?
Overall: four-stars

Who should read Grave Mercy?

Highly recommended to fans of historical fiction.  If you love the romance and mystery of the 15th century along then I think you’ll love this one too.  The paranormal aspect lends a nice twist to the plot too.

Note : This book is currently only $1.99 on Amazon and it’s a steal at that price.  I recommend you snap it up, if you haven’t already read it.


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22 Responses to “Book Review : Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers”

    • trish

      Aw, that’s a pity! It’s funny to look back and remember when NetGalley seemed alien. I really enjoyed this one and if you like historical fiction that this one is a must read.

    • trish

      I know, such a creepy concept! Add in the fact that it’s at the end of the middle ages and this becomes a very unique book. Loved!

    • trish

      It sounds crazy but it’s so good! Forget all your conceptions about nuns. In this book, they are trained in poisons, daggers and seduction techniques. It’s fun! Seriously 🙂

    • trish

      I’m so hyped up for Dark Triump now! Can’t wait to get to it. And I see the third book is out soon too.

  1. Nuzaifa @ Say It with Books

    So glad you enjoyed this, Trish! Grave Mercy is one of my favorite YA historical fiction reads-LaFevers’s writing paired with some remarkable characters made this an unforgettable read for me. 🙂

    You should definitely pick up, Dark Triumph as soon as possible. I can promise you that you’ll enjoy Sybella’s story! Brilliantly reviewed. 😀
    Nuzaifa @ Say It with Books recently posted…Guest Post: Marianne de Pierres – My Reading and Writing Influences

    • trish

      Oh I agree, the writing is fab. And I just loved the world building and the mixture between historical fiction/fantasy. It worked so well. Bring on Dark Triump!

  2. Lola

    I heard so many great things about this book. I actually already own this book, but I still haven’t gotten around to reading it. The cover is so beautifull and the story sounds really good too. I haven’t read many historicals, so I am interested to find out whether I like those elements in a book. Great review and I am glad to hear you enjoyed this one 🙂
    Lola recently posted…Free: Removed (Nogiku #1) by SJ Pajonas

    • trish

      Ohhh you should dig it out Lola! Such a captivating book and superbly written. I loved it. And I’m with you, I love the cover too and it gives a good feel for what the book is like.

  3. Katie @ Doing Dewey

    I loved this book too! The interaction with Mortain at the end and the way it related to Ismae’s character growth really made this book for me. For me, that was less predictable than the less of the book and also surprisingly moving.
    Katie @ Doing Dewey recently posted…The Humor Code

    • trish

      I’d love to have seen more Mortain in the book as I love the way he came across. I’m really looking forward to reading Dark Triumph soon 🙂

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