Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Review: Grave Mercy by Robin Lafevers

photo courtesy of publisher via NetGalley

Title:  Grave Mercy 
Subtitle:  His Fair Assassin, Book 1  
Author:  Robin Lafevers
Genre:  Young Adult, Historical, Fantasy, Magic
Publisher:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format:  NetGalley Digital Galley
Release Date:  April 3, 2012

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? (Summary via NetGalley)

Historical fiction is probably one of my favorite genres. When it is mixed with romance and a bit of the supernatural, I like it even more. Grave Mercy is a perfect combination of romance, magic and fantasy set hundreds of years in the past.

Grave Mercy includes a very tender and sweet love story that doesn’t overshadow everything in the book. A lot of the time, the romance between two characters is the main focus of a story, so much so that everything else is pushed to the wayside. Lafevers seems to understand that this story is so much more than just its romance, and she writes it so that the reader is satisfied with every aspect of the story. I enjoyed reading a book whose author seemed to realize that while her readers enjoy a good love story, they don’t mind seeing a bit of action and intrigue as well.

The characters in Grave Mercy are very well-written. I cared about what happened to them—the sisters at the convent, the people in the high court of Brittany, even the soldiers working with Duval. I especially liked Anne, the duchess. She had a spunk to her that is not always seen in women in historical fiction, especially one raised to be royalty. Ismae was a complex, charismatic character, flawed and vulnerable, yet strong and feisty at the same time. Of course, there were characters I disliked as well, in particular Madam Dinan, the duchess’ guardian. She is a cold and calculating woman, and written so well that I absolutely hated her. I believe the sign of a good author is their ability to create a hateful character and to get the reader to hate them as well. Lafever did just that with Madam Dinan. I almost enjoyed hating her.

Above all else, Grave Mercy is a story of intrigue, fantasy and magic. All three of these elements are flawlessly woven throughout the book. I was never quite sure who to trust, what was real and what was magic. That made this a great book to read. It keeps you guessing and it keeps you interested enough that the guessing isn’t so bad. Lafever is off to a great start with this series.  

I really liked Grave Mercy. Lafevers writes beautifully and I was quite impressed with her debut novel. I look forward to reading more regarding the Fair Assassins of Mortain’s convent in the future.

My grade for Grave Mercy by Robin Lafevers:


  1. Okay, I really have to read this. If the cover didn't have me sold, the fact that there's a love story does! Great review!

  2. {i'm following your blog}

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  3. I have heard such good things about this book! Great review!
    Kate @ Ex Libris


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