GRAVE MERCYRobin LaFevers
@RLLaFevers :: website
YA | Historical | Series Book 1
FIRST LINE :: ARC :: I bear a deep red stain that runs from my left shoulder down to my right hip, a trail left by the herbwitch’s poison that my mother used to try to expel me from her womb.
SUMMARY :: from the B&N website
Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?REVIEW ::
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 expected GRAVE MERCY to somehow channel a fairy tale feel – maybe badass Red Riding Hood with a crossbow – given the cover and the tagline. I hate to break it to you, dear Readers, but this is no fairy tale. Nay, GRAVE MERCY is an intense EPIC fueled with dark and gritty details. Robin LaFevers has built a fascinating world built upon old magic and politics.
Ismae is a tough character to love, but I think that may be partly due to the fact that she has been a sheltered life that has ill-prepared her to interact normally and comfortably with people. Although she has the itch to assassinate traitors, Ismae is hardly the experienced assassin as Celaena Sardothien. She still is in her “training wheels” stage where she can have an assignment go smoothly, but that is due to 80% pure luck and 20% skill. Not to mention, if I were in Ismae’s shoes and caught in the tangled web of politics, I probably would be on edge as well and not trust anyone with my back. I had hoped that Ismae would mellow out or show a little marshmallow middle, but she remained a strong and resolute personality that warranted respect and maybe fear but never the hug that I so wanted to give her.
The story slowly but steadily builds to the point where Ismae comes face-to-face with the truth and has to weigh her options on the right course of action. St. Mortain, the old god of Death, expects her to kill those who have earned the marque to die, but when Ismae learns that this is not as black-and-white as the convent led her to believe, she gets a rude awakening into the gray area where change of heart occurs. I cannot say that there was a definitive climax – that high point where everything comes together before it plummets to the end; instead, the story remains steadfast in its intensity that I probably held my breath with anticipation for a solid 200 pages.
There was not a whole lot of romance despite the promising hint of one. My lack of reaction may be a result of my love for the headier romances where I see more heated interactions (not necessarily without clothes, but the tug-of-war bantering and emotional rollercoaster). Ismae and Duval had a few good exchange of words, but I did not quite feel the pull of their attraction. The romance was expected and established, but I thought both parties seemed a bit stiff –and, like I mentioned earlier, Ismae is a tough cookie to love and she never really melted enough to welcome love into her life. I don’t know how else to explain it. I was a little disappointed with how this romance panned out.
I can see fans of The Scorpio Races or the Beka Cooper series gravitating towards GRAVE MERCY because it travels on the same EPIC wavelength. Robin LaFevers has created such a fierce young woman that will demand attention and, trust me, it will be awfully hard to look away! I am curious to see what Book 2 will bring; it is supposed to focus on another fair assassin, but I am not sure if Ismae will also make an appearance. I kinda of want to have my cake and eat it too, so I hope Robin LaFevers will spoil us!
DISCLAIMER :: PUBLISHER
RELEASED APRIL 2012 BY HOUGHTON MIFFLIN HARCOURT
OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES :: DARK TRIUMPH, DARK HOPE