Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Book Review: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers


by Robin LaFevers 

Genre: Historical/Fantasy
Reading Grade: Young Adult
Publication Date: April 3, 2012
Source: NetGalley (ARC)
Age Rating: 15+
  
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 Review

This is my last ARC/RC review out of the old piled up copies I've been reading lately. Finished at last!

  • Plot: Ismae is sold into a marriage with an abusive husband by her equally abusive stepfather at the age of fourteen, only to find herself suddenly whisked away to a convent on a small island off the coast of Brittany (modern day northern France). She was sired by Mortain, the god of death, one of the original nine gods of the pagan Bretons before the region became Catholic. The convent is devoted to carrying out Mortain's will, raising up his human offspring to carry out his assassinations of those who would betray Brittany. Ismae is trained for three years, then assigned to play the part of a courtier's mistress, the courtier being a young, handsome man named Duval. Someone is trying to hand Brittany and its duchess over to France and she must discover who this traitor in their midst is, and end him or her. The plot, like a murder mystery, goes around all over the place trying to discover who the traitor at court is with nearly everyone being a suspect, including Duval.
  • Characters: Ismae grows and changes a lot from beginning to end. She first feels empowered when the convent abbess takes her in and trains her in all the many ways to kill men. She was treated so poorly by men all her life, so she thoroughly despises them and only ever expects to serve the convent and Mortain's will. She is shaken down to her foundation when she meets Duval and begins to fall for him, since he is the first man to treat her with actual respect. They butt heads a lot in the beginning because he knows she's an assassin and fears she'll try to kill him at some point. And, Ismae just fears men, period. Duval is a great male lead, very serious about accomplishing the task of protecting the young Duchess from being married off to the horrible old lech, Count D'Albret, even though their union would protect Brittany from being invaded by France.
  • Technical Writing: I completely adore the writing style. It's written in first-person present tense, which is odd, considering it's a historical novel, but I never felt it was awkward at all. Ismae speaks simply, but in a bit of an old-fashioned English way, saying “mayhap” instead of “perhaps” or “maybe,” and things like that. It's never hard to follow for a second, though.
  • Storytelling: I'm amazed at how capable the author is of weaving all these different plot threads together into a perfect tapestry. It's a complicated plot with a ton of stuff going on, but not too hard to follow, and really keeps the reader engaged at all times. I never got bored reading it, but I'm one who likes political intrigue. If you don't like plots that dive heavily into politics, this one may not be for you. But, it's a better woven story than most I usually read.
  • Overall Quality: Really high. Everything about it is high quality, even down to the world-building, the fantasy aspect behind it. The fantasy aspect compels Ismae to carry out her assassinations and guides all her actions. And, when something important is about to happen, the story sets itself up properly, so when you get to that part, you believe it. Nothing happens randomly, nothing is pointless, and every loose thread gets tied in well.
  • Favorite Moment/Scene: I have so many it's hard to narrow it down, but I love when Ismae saves the Duchess of Brittany, a cute little twelve-year-old girl, from being raped by Count D'Albret. He is a huge, disgusting lecherous man, and one of her suitors, but the girl hates him more than anything in the world. His attempt to rape her was meant to sully her maidenhead so she would have no choice but to marry him, after all. Ismae pulls out her weapons and scares him off before he can do anything more than just grope the little girl. Poor thing. But, I love how triumphant that scene was for the both Ismae and the Duchess.
  • My Score: 4.5 stars out of 5.

*I received an advanced review copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Buy this title from | Amazon |.

14 comments:

  1. Great review. I will definitely read it. I like the way you organized your review, by the way. :)

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    1. @Paper Pages: Thank you for both compliments!

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  2. AWESOME REVIEW!! Happy you like it, I wan't sure before if i should read this book but not anymore I already add it to my TBR pile :)

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    1. @Lilly: Thank you very much! This one is great. You should enjoy it.

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  3. This sounds like an amazing book. How can you resist a chick in a red dress holding a crossbow??? There's nothing about this one that I don't think I'd like which is very rare. I'd love to be the daughter of the god of death! Can't wait to read it.

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    1. @Lan: I think you'd like this one! It is very cool, just like it seems.

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  4. So glad you liked this! I just got this from the library. I can't wait to start it.

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    1. @Alison: Alright! I think you're gonna like it.

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  5. Oh my, this book sounds soooo good! I always tell my husband that if I was born anytime before the 1900s, I totally would have joined a convent. :) At least in a convent, you could get regular meals and learn how to read.

    Thanks for the recommendation, as always! I love books with political intrigue. Have you ever read anything by Lois McMaster Bujold? She's a fav of mine, heavy on the politics.

    Congrats on getting to the bottom of your ARC TBR pile!

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    1. @Camille: Yeah, if you were not a high born person, then being in a convent would have meant getting a bit of an education and meals you could count on. A good situation in those days!

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  6. Just today I've read about four reviews about how great this book is! I cannot wait to read this book, great review!

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    1. @Tabitha: Thanks! It is a great book.

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  7. I'm glad you liked this so much. I have it sitting on my shelf. I'm going to read it as soon as I finish Shatter Me. Hopefully tomorrow.

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    1. @Alison: I hope you like this one. It really is awesome.

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