This novel was surprising. I was even shocked at the mere size of it. At 549 pages, Grave Mercy by Robin Lafevers is a historical adventure/romance with bite. The writing was dark and vivid; the characters were well-crafted and intriguing, and the story was incredibly unique. The plot is reminiscent of the typical romance novel, except this story actually developed the plot and delivered it without all the cheesy sex scenes.
This Young Adult novel is the story of Ismae who escapes an arranged marriage to join the covenant of St. Mortian — the saint of death. He has blessed her with dangerous gifts, and with her brutal past with men, she fully intends to use them. In this historical dark adventure, Ismae is sent on a mission to the High Court of Brittany. As a handmaiden of death, Ismae encounters Gavriel Duval in her search for traitors to the duchess, and is surprised with what she finds.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Lafevers’ writing grabbed me the instant my retina replayed the upside-down image and translated it to my brain. I was sucked in from the beginning. Ismae is such a geniunely likable character even though she’s got baggage. Guy baggage, as in her step-father was evil and tried to marry her off to a horrible, horrible man. For someone who’s never known love, Ismae finds it. It’s so beautiful to watch her unravel the secrets of falling in love, the fluttering butterflies, the unexpected moments, and the final realization that she’s fallen for the most unlikely man during the most inconvenient time. It was a great romance to read with a lot of build up AND delivering on the build up but in a classy and appropiate for Young Adult way.
Furthermore, as much as I loved the romance, Ismae’s mission to find the traitor was so exciting to read! She’s initially hardcore, goes in and kills the target without question or conscience. As the story progresses, Ismae grows and her independent realizations lead to redemption in those that are sentenced to death by St. Mortian. This aspect was really neat to me; it was neat to watch Ismae grow. This idea of redemption repeats and I have to give it to Lafevers, she really had me going. With the dark nature of Ismae’s task and the unforgiving historical setting, I was at her mercy with every step. (Dare I say, grave mercy?) She is one of those authors who can kill off your favorite character and you still love her, so waiting and watching, and anticipating the next turn of events was extremely exciting because anything could happen! I am really pleased with the way Grave Mercy ended. I have full closure but I’m still anticipating the sequel. As this is the first novel in the His Fair Assaisin series, I am definitely reading the next installment!
I highly recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys historical romance but this one comes with a twist, Assasin Nuns!