Review: Grave Mercy

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFeversTitle: Grave Mercy
Series: His Fair Assassin, #1
Author: Robin LaFevers
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genre: Historical/Paranormal Fiction
Challenge: Looking Back at 2012
Recommended by: Megpie

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?

Available at:
Amazon – Canada: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle
Amazon – US: PaperbackAmazon Kindle

Book Reviews By Rating

My Review:

Megpie highly recommended this book even though she knows historical fiction isn’t really my thing. I gave it a chance knowing she liked Ismae a lot… and I’m glad I did.

I was thinking, ‘assassins trained by the convent…’ Why not? I was skeptical because it was historical (it just takes me forever to read historical because of how it’s written). I liked the concept a lot and it was very interesting. It was kind of boring at times and it was a very long read for me. I kept falling asleep reading the first half – I literally read the book when I was having a hard time sleeping to make me fall asleep (and it worked). There were also times when I had to whip out my dictionary – thank god for Kobo’s dictionary feature!

As for Ismae, I didn’t like how she had a huge scar on her back and couldn’t undress in front of anybody (I mean, the biggest asset you have when you’re a female assassin is your charms, your body, and your beauty). Being a woman is a powerful thing and it would have made more sense if the convent made sure she was that before they sent her out on her first mission (she didn’t even know what she was feeling when Duval touched her when in fact she should have been well-trained in this area). It was also frustrating how Ismae spent most of her time talking about all those cool weapons she had instead of actually using it. It was an assassin’s story so I was expecting more action, blood, and gruesomeness.

Aside from that, I loved how she was stubborn and funny. She was a bit naive and sarcastic and I liked that about her.

I comfort myself with the knowledge that if Duval ever feels smothered by me, it will be because I am holding a pillow over his face and commending his soul to Mortain.

I stare at him coldly. “I do not care for needlework.” I pause. “Unless it involves the base of the skull.”

I loved Duval since he was first mentioned in the book up to the part where he got poisoned. After all the ingenious built up of Ismae and Duval’s chemistry, it was ruined at the end when Ismae figured out how to save Duval from poisoning. It was a complete turn off for me. I still liked Duval, though, and his patience with Ismae. Did I mention how he was such a gentleman?

“Whenever you are ready, or if you never are, my heart is yours, until Death do us part. Whatever that may mean when consorting with one of Death’s handmaidens.”

“When one consorts with assassins, one must expect to dance along the edge of a knife once or twice.”

As for the other characters, I didn’t know what to think about Sybella at first, but it was clearer towards the end of the book. I think I would have liked her more than Ismae, but I’m not too sure. Beast was awesome, too! He deserves his title. I loved the Sisters from the convent as well. I loved their conversations – it was pretty awesome coming from nuns, but then again, they trained assassins.

“I think if he catches sight of her nipples, it won’t matter whether they’re rouge or not. He’ll be dead within seconds.”

I was ready to give it two hearts, maybe two and a half, but because of the last half of the book, I’m giving it three and a half. I loved that there were conspiracies and that even though I kind of had an idea who the spy was, there were still times when I doubted myself and though that maybe it was someone else. I even thought it was Duval, now wouldn’t that be interesting – at the same time devastating?

I also loved the intrigue! Oh, the spying and eavesdropping Ismae did was so exciting. My favorite part was probably when Sybella sent her a note to meet her, but that’s all I’m saying. It was clever! And ever though I wasn’t the greatest fan of Ismae, she did grow into a person. Although she was an innocent, naive little girl at first, she grew a lot and turned into a beautiful, delicate flower.

I’m recommending this to those who love conspiracies, spies, British history, and assassins! It was worth the read and I loved the ending – just make sure you don’t read the first half at night or you’ll end up falling asleep.


Discussion Questions:

  1. How do you feel about my review? Do you agree or disagree with it? Would you read it, if you haven’t yet, basing from the review?
  2. What did you think of the book? How would you rate it from scale 1 to 5 (5 being the highest).
  3. How do you feel about the main characters? Did you like them, hate them, relate to them?
  4. Would you recommend it to others?
  5. What other books would you recommend I read that’s similar to this one?


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