Published: April 3rd, 2012
Publisher: Houghton, Miflin, Harcourt
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?
One of the things I enjoyed about Grave Mercy is the fact that it is set at a certain point in French history and then that history is twisted to include old Gods and new assassin nuns. Alternate histories are wonderful things. You just have to include the bare bones of our actual history and then you can pretty much do what you like with it.
Ismae has some interesting decisions to make and one of the great decisions is not to follow blindly, but to question her orders. I've always believed that following orders is fine, if those orders make sense, but if they go against your gut feelings, it's not so wrong to question a little and then make a decision. Ismae does this and I think it makes her a more believable character. In many ways, she is still very young and just because she knows what to do, doesn't mean it's easy to do it.
Gavriel Duval is just the kind of young man we all wish we could meet. Young, good-looking, strong, faithful, trustworthy - ahhhhh, I could go on and on here, but you know what I mean. There's a nice romance going on here that is not the insta love type and grew very sweetly. Remember what it's like when someone walks in the door and you think your heart is going to beat its way right out of your chest? Young love is wonderful, isn't it? I did work out fairly early who the real 'bad' guy is, but I didn't' work out why, and it was well worth reading to find out.
All in all, I really enjoyed Grave Mercy. There were a few instances where I raised my eyebrows a bit, but nothing to really hinder my enjoyment of the whole, and although it is a long book at over 500 pages, I managed to read it in a couple of days. Recommended for those who like their historical romances with a twist.