Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
I was drawn into Ismae’s world faster than I thought possible. Often with a historical novel the setting up of the history and the world can get in the way of the story with a dry regurgitation of facts. But LaFevers weaves in all that we need to know about the real history and what she invented in a seamless way that it never once gets in the way of the story. And Oh what a story this was!! I am very mad at myself that I ever doubted that this would be a good book because in the end it turned out to be one of the best books I’ve read all year. Seriously.
The whole idea of nun assassins is just genius and I love how blood thirsty that Ismae was…it made me giggle a bit when she’d ask Gavriel after every person they met if she could kill them. But I also loved how honorable she was – she wouldn’t kill if they didn’t have the mark and I loved how her character changed and grew over the novel. She starts off barely tolerating other people, with the exception of her sisters, but she learned to put her trust not only in others but also in herself. She learned how to think and rationalize and that the world is not always black and white but there are multiple shades of grey.
I also loved the support cast – Gravriel, de Lorache, the Beast, Anne and even the more diabolical ones that so threatened Anne of Brittany’s reign. And oh how I loved that little tidbit of history! Anne, a 12 year old duchess ruling a nation at a time when women had so little rights….wonderful! But don’t let her young age fool you, the average life span in the middle ages was around 30-40 so a 12 year old then was far older/wiser than a 12 year old of today. I loved the setting as well, I’ve always had such a fondness for the Middle Ages and that alone should have sold me on the book when I first heard of it. I can only claim temporary insanity that I once tried to dismiss this book. I am deeply shamed at myself because it was just so utterly fantastic that I would have greatly missed out if I didn’t listen to the hype.
That’s right…not only is there a lot of hype around this book but its also not misleading. Any regular reader of my blog knows that I tend to be severely disappointed in over-hyped books. But that was not the case with Grave Mercy. This is a book that I was bullying people in bookstores to read before I was even 1/2 way done. I even forced one of my co-workers, who is a reader but not a huge one, to pick it up. Everything about this book was solid. The plotting, the characters and the setting. There is humor, intrigue, romance, mystery, kick ass characters (of both genders) and murder. So essentially, there is something for everyone in this book.
There is so much to love in this book that its impossible to capture it all in a review. So I highly recommend that you dash out to your nearest bookstore and grab a copy so that you can experience this one for yourself. Then you can join me in the long wait for Book 2, Dark Triumph, which just sounds fantastic! And before you start to fear cliff-hanger endings know that this is not the case with Grave Mercy. The story ARC is closed up in a very satisfactory way but you can see the seeds that are sown for the second book. I can’t say it enough, Grave Mercy is a fabulous read and I can’t recommend it highly enough!