Friday, April 13, 2012

Review: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
Series: His Fair Assassin #1
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
First published: April 3rd, 2012
Source: NetGalley
Format: eARC
Pages: 549
Goodreads Summary:
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 Rating: 4.0 / 5

First thoughts:
Set in a world of betrayal, murder and love, Grave Mercy managed to captivate me with its beautiful writing, its appealing characters and a plot that is hard to forget despite its slower pace. Ismae's story is one of letting yourself be happy without doubting that you deserve it. Both, the main plot and the love story are in harmony and always made me hope that Grave Mercy was even longer than it already is.

More detailed:
From time to time, I enjoy delving into a historical world with political intrigues, betrayal, and a life at court that makes me forget our modern surroundings. A historical setting can be the perfect opportunity to learn about past times and imagine what your life could have been like a few hundred years ago. Mix it with a few paranormal elements, a kick-ass main character, and a beautiful style of writing and you get Grave Mercy.

The many very positive reviews that I've read about Grave Mercy before picking it up myself both made me excited to find out more about this story and scared that I might end up being disappointed. I have to admit that in the end there was a certain feeling / spark missing for me that would have made me rate it with five stars, but I enjoyed it nonetheless and cannot wait what will await us with the companion novel, Dark Triumph.

Ismae is the kind of character I'd love to find more in Young Adult novels. She has led a tough life until she's finally introduced to St. Mortain and her duties, but despite being allowed to be at least a bit whiny, she continues to fight for herself and finds a meaning in life again. To be a handmaiden to Death turns out to be a lot more complicated than she expected and witnessing her question her destiny and form her own opinion was wonderful.

Duval, Ismae's love interest, is one of those swoon-worthy male characters who has already got a lot of attention and will receive even more. But despite being a slightly broody person, he is still kind and not the usual "bad guy" we're used to. His relationship with Ismae is developing very slowly and doesn't distract from the main focus of the story. Instead it creates a beautiful golden thread that is weaved through the story and makes the complicated court policy a lot more bearable.

First and foremost, Grave Mercy concentrates on the political intrigues that are an essential part of such a historical setting. While I wasn't surprised by all of the twists and found it to be fairly easy to guess who the villain of the story is, it was exciting and despite the slower pace and heavier topics I never felt the need to stop reading.

All in all, Grave Mercy is a must-read for 2012. As a person who doesn't read too much historical fiction myself and usually despites slow-paced books, I enjoyed it immensely nonetheless and can recommend it to everyone who is looking for an exceptionally well written novel. I'm sure that the only reason, why I didn't feel like giving this a five-star-rating, is the huge hype that surrounded it ever since we heard about it. If you're just the tiniest bit interested in Grave Mercy, I'm sure you won't regret picking it up.

Have you read Grave Mercy? What did you think about it?
Do you plan to read it?

Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.


  1. Ooooooo I am so jelous. I WANT THIS BOOK!!!!!!

  2. Great review Carina! I still enjoyed this one even though the whole politics really confused me (I'm not a historical fan at all but all the reviews made me read it). But I agree the Ismae totally rocks and I loved the how romance was played.

  3. Great review hun! I do have this but I haven't picked it up yet. What worries me is the politic's...I hate to much details and it sometimes confuses me. Hopefully when I do get around to it, I just enjoy it as much as you. Donna xoxo

  4. This is probably going to be my favorite book of year, I absolutely loved it. I'm glad to see you enjoyed it as well. The historical setting, political intrigue, and the amazing romance between Ismae and Duval kept me hooked the whole time. I can't wait for the next book. Awesome review :)

  5. My deaaaaar!!
    Im glad you enjoyed it! However, I didn;t feel it was slow at all. XD I was so immersed into it and I swallowed so fast that I felt it was actually short XDD
    I love your review my dear, it really encourages everyone to read it and the *slowness* factor seems irrelevant with all the good points you mention =D Im so happy you liked it!! Grave Mercy is definitely one of my favorite for 2012! =D

    muah!! have a great weekend yay!!

  6. I'm so glad you liked it! I read it a while ago and it completely sucked me in. I hadn't read that many historic books, so that was definitely a nice change! I really liked it, though at the end I also didn't find the spark.

    It was a nice read, anyways! :)

  7. I have heard so many GREAT things about this novel.I should really pick this up! I tried reading the first chapter and I thought it was a little slow but if you got over it I guess I will too!

    Krazyyme @ Young Readers

  8. I am dying to read this book so I'm really glad you enjoyed it that much :) !! I totally understand the fact that this book getting a lot of hype affected your rating a bit .. :). fABULOUS review Carina !!

  9. I'm glad you enjoyed this one. I was so excited to recieve a review copy, and I loved it! I enjoy reading the occasional historical fiction, and Grave Mercy was such an easy and quick read for me. I think anyone who has any interest in historical fiction should give it a try :)

    Great review!


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