Saturday, March 31, 2012

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers



Title:   Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1)
Author: Robin LaFevers
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 

Expected Publication: April 3, 2012

My Rating:

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From Goodreads:

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:
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While it’s wonderful for a book to captivate me from its first page, I revel in a book that works hard to win me over. This was the case with Grave Mercy, and win me over it did! I struggled a bit in the first couple of chapters, which is no reflection on the story, nor the author’s beautiful writing. This is my own personal struggle I have with the era in which it is written. I was burned out on historical fiction/romance many years ago and have been reluctant to revisit a book placed in this time period. However, many of my best bookish friends, whose opinions I hold in high regard, were giving this story such positive ratings that I had to see what all the fuss was about. I couldn’t be happier that I eventually gave it a chance. This book sunk its teeth into me and, even as I write this review, has yet to let go.

Let’s begin with the plot, which involves a young, Nikita-esque character, impossible not to admire. Throw in assassin nuns - uh huh... you read that correctly - poisons, weaponry, combat training, and then, a most swoon-worthy character (the kind that will no doubt appear in dreams from here on out), one Gavriel Duval, and I was putty in Robin LaFevers’ hands. This author knows how to tell a story and is an enchantress, as well as a master at keeping you on the edge of your seat. I feel as though I’ve been visited by the herbwitch herself, as I cannot stop thinking about this book and its characters - mind you, not just the lead characters, but the supporting characters, as well. I fancied ‘Beast’ from the first introduction of his character, and he quickly became one of my favorites. Then, there are De Lornay, Anne, Isabeau, Louyse, Annith, and Sybella, just to name a few, that were so much fun to read about.

I relish a strong female lead, and Ismae is one of the strongest. I love that she overcame so many tribulations in her young life, and I adore the fierce, determined person she grew to be. 


“He does not start guiltily, as he should, but frowns in annoyance. ‘Who are you?’
I slip my hand through the slit of my overskirt, and my fingers close around the hard wood of the crossbow tiller. ‘Vengeance,’ I say softly.”

It’s true that I am a romantic at heart, but I enjoyed that there were no immediate, amorous feelings or a lovestruck, spontaneous infatuation between the two lead characters. I confess, I have a soft spot for characters who abhor each other on sight, intent on being the other’s downfall, only to slowly fall for one another, deeply and madly. Sigh. The relationship between Ismae and Duval was so intense and so wonderfully written that I actually shouted, “Merde!!” at my poor husband when he unknowingly interrupted my reading of a particular scene between the two.

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

Now, I want more. More of this story and (*gasp*) more of this era. What have you done to me, Ms. LaFevers? Fortunately, this is not the end, as there is a second book due out in 2013. It appears to be from one of the supporting characters’ POV, but I am hoping there will be plenty of Ismae and Duval within its pages.

“Whenever you are ready, or if you never are, my heart is yours....”

I feel inclined to mention that, while this book is marketed as YA, there is mature content that I wouldn’t be comfortable letting my young teen read yet. I think she needs a few more years before she can read about some of the situations Ismae finds herself in. Other than that, I would highly recommend it to anyone yearning for a unique, action-packed, romance-laden story. I know I want to read more by this talented author, and soon!

Now, if I could just go back to speaking like the 2012 southern belle that I am, and not a daughter of St. Mortain trying to survive the 1400's. Sweet Jesu!

Thank you to Netgalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for graciously providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

14 comments:

  1. This book sounds AMAZING! *runs to goodreads and adds to list* I love captivating books those are the best! it sounds like I would devour this book and of course I trust your awesome judgement! fantastic review love!!!

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    1. Thank you, sweetie pie! I'm so excited you added it to your TBR! Can't wait for you to read it! <3

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  2. Yay, I'm glad you liked it! I don't think I loved this book as much as everyone else but I did still really enjoy it. great review! :)

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    1. Thanks, Sam! It definitely wasn't an insta-love book for me, but I think that made it even better. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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  3. I am so glad you gave this book a chance! You seriously have no idea how much I fretted over getting an advance copy of this one. And then I got not one but TWO ARCs in addition to the email invite to check it out on Netgalley. I thought about giving one ARC away, but they're both different...one with the cover you see above and one without the artwork, just gold and funny-shaped. :) You know I love to share my books, but it's really cool having two different ARCs!

    Anyway, great review. I loved Beast, too, but I loved everything about this book, so that kind of goes without question. :P I want more of this story...STAT! :D

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  4. Hello lovely, I have to admit I inwardly groaned when I saw yet another review on this book. It has been a bloggy slut. Seriously it is everywhere. Yet, decided to read your review even though I have read probably twenty on this book, and honest to god yours was one of the best reviews I have read. So I am glad I read it. This book sounds like fun and I do want to read it, I mean assassin nuns...cool. I also love antagonistic romances, they are so fun. I am sure I will enjoy this one. Yes, you are right I don't easily give five stars but Hounded was awesome! I have Wonder coming up too and it got five stars as well. Glad you are back a little more, I am guessing you are feeling better :)

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    1. First of all, thank you for reading my review and for that amazing compliment - made my day! I know exactly how you feel - seeing the same review posted over and over again gets tiresome. Second, thank you SO much for coining the phrase "bloggy slut!" That is my new favorite! LMAO!!! It HAS been a little bloggy slut, and I think that, along with the era, is why I put off reading it for so long. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did, and I can't wait to hear your thoughts. Thanks again for letting me know about Hounded - I'm excited to read it!

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  5. I'm super excited about this book!! Love me some hardcore female power!!! Sweet Jesu! LOL!!! new favorite emphatic phrase! (I think I used emphatic correctly.. you know me and my crazy words I pull from Jesu knows where hahahahah). Beautiful review!

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    1. Bwahahaha!! Sweet Jesu, that was a great comment!!! Thank you! I hope I did it justice. Can't wait for you to read it - hardcore female power, for sure!! Love you!

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  6. Wonderful review! I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would. It's odd that I was interested both at the beginning and through the middle part, but I was.
    I also agree with you that it's more on the adult side of the YA spectrum.

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    1. Thank you, Maja! I loved your review - it's great that we both enjoyed this one so much!

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  7. first off, this bitch on the cover needs to brush her hair.. she looks like she's doing the walk of shame home.

    second - THIS ----> "I confess, I have a soft spot for characters who abhor each other on sight, intent on being the other’s downfall, only to slowly fall for one another, deeply and madly. Sigh."

    YES YES YESS!!!! More books need to do it that way.. because I love a romance that starts out in the shitter.

    I've seen this one get tons of praise. I dont normal read much historical ish stuff, but I think I'll have to suck it up and give it a try. lol.

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    1. Gah! I LOVE your comments!

      Walk of shame home - Bwahahahaha!! How did I not notice that? I'm soooo glad I'm not the only who loves a romance/hatemance.

      I'm excited for you to read this one! I can't believe I enjoyed a historical this much, and I think you will, too!

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