Monday, January 14, 2013

Review: GRAVE MERCY by Robin LaFevers

Title: Grave Mercy

Publication date: April 3rd, 2012

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Source: Shelver's bookshelf

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?


I'm going to start this off by showing you my reaction AFTER I finished the book. When I read the last page, shut the book, and set the book down beside my sister, Shelver, I felt like I only had one reaction:

That, readers, is the reaction of WHY DIDN'T I READ THIS SOONER? Oh, all of you must have experienced this one time or another. It doesn't matter if you're a blogger, author, librarian, or just a reader. At one point in your life, you have stumbled across a book that you wished you had read sooner. 

If you haven't read Grave Mercy yet, add that one to your list. 

Having been a failed abortion, left with hideous scars on her back, and marked as the daughter of Death, Ismae can't help but be strong. The townspeople have tormented her and her father has done even worse. Then after her dreadful father sells her off to a vile farmer, the local herbwitch and priest rescue her by whisking her off to the covenant of St. Mortain. 

This covenant? Trains assassins. A marque will appear on whoever Mortain says needs to die. Usually, it's one who goes against their duchess. We meet some people including the special Annith and Sybella before we leap three years to a trained Ismae. 

Ismae is then placed with an important assignment: protect Duchess Anne from the French army and any dreadful, pushy suitors from stealing her duchy. To do this, she is forced to pose as the duchess's half-brother's mistress. Of course, the covenant thinks he might be a traitor as well so Ismae is always on her guard with Gavriel Duval. 

Duval. How wonderful is he? I mean, it's not my real last name but I knew he'd be good once I saw we had the same last name minus an "l." Suspicious, kind, stubborn, protective, and loyal...not to mention good looking. And Beast.

Give me a moment while I smile. 

Beast, Duval's friend, is one of the most charming characters ever. Although a secondary character, I looked forward to reading about it him whenever I had the chance. Basically all the characters, whether secondary or the main ones, I felt attracted to. I had no problem in getting sucked into the story and was never bored with one character. From the strong Duchess Anne who made me incredibly proud to Crunard who made me suspicious to Madame Hivern who was complex enough that you didn't exactly know what to think of her to Sybella who, although you only got a morsel of her, made you intrigued and craving for more. 

The characters were complex. That's what it comes down to: the characters were complex. I could never trust anyone all the way and they weren't fillers either. They had personalities and felt real, not just someone to be stuck in a story to just be there

Nocturne, the horse? Yes, I was even attached to him too. He made me want to avenge him by storming off the treadmill by doing who knows what, but gosh, I will do it emotional. Let's just leave it at that. The horse made me a little emotional. 

Ismae was wonderful too, while at points she might have been too stubborn, I'll over look it. She cannot be affected by poison. That's right. She won't die. She might feel something mild, but it won't kill her. She can talk to the souls after they're newly dead and can tell when someone is about to die. She can kill a man any way she wants to and believe me, there are a lot of ways. She's tough. Loyal. Not too sure of who to trust. Smart...and an overall great main character. 

I also wanted to point out the cover. The main line seems oh, so threatening on the top of the cover with the girl on the front having a crossbow in hand. The old buildings in the background have a nice touch too. I love the feeling with the cover, it feels deadly to me and since this book is all about death, I'm glad it wasn't just a girl with a pretty dress on the front.

But I guess I have to point out one other thing: Death. The whole covenant and Ismae worship him and while I see the point there, it made me a bit uneasy with my personal beliefs. However, most people won't have a problem with the whole plot of Death/St. Mortain. Also, Ismae did something inappropriate in the end that was crucial to the story, but still...parents should know about. 

Verdict: An intriguing, wonderfully crafted book that makes me impatient to read the sequel. 

If you would like to buy this book, I recommend going to my sidebar and clicking The Book Depository button and shop there. FREE shipping!


  1. YESSSS YOU'VE READ IT! I know you'd love it. It's just sososo good.

    1. I LOVED IT. Oh my gosh, Gillian, I lost valuable sleep over it but you know what? No regrets!

  2. Yay! I loved this one. And I totally cried about Nocturne! lol. I can't wait to read the next book with Beast.

    1. Me too! Haha, Nocturne. Animals, they can bring such emotions out of us ;)

      Thanks for commenting, Christy!

  3. I'm so glad you feel the same! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this book! I used a lot of gifs to convey my crazy emotions for this book too :p Great review :)

    Alise @ Readers In Wonderland

    1. Gifs are wonderful for that because I see one and I go "YES THAT'S HOW I FEEL!" Thank you :)

    I completely agree in everyway! I wasn't expecting this book to be all that when I first started reading it but when I was finished with it, I was in AWE...maybe a bit of shock and awe but still! A convent that trains highly skilled girl assassins? Crazy cool. All of the characters were great! This book was well written and the plot amazingly developed.
    Oh and I'm so happy you mentioned Beast in your review, I loved him!

    1. Thank you! Wow, you sure know how to make someone's day better :)

      Agreed! I don't know why I kept putting it off, but I absolutely loved it. I loved all the research behind it, the characters, the details...everything :)

      He was pretty great!

  5. I have a feeling I am going to have the same reaction when I finally read this, "Why didn't I read this sooner?!" I love complex characters but now you have me scared for the horse. LOL Great review!

    ~Sara @ Forever 17 Books

    1. You will! I promise it ;) Ha! At least you are warned, my friend. Thank you!

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