Thursday, June 5, 2014

Book Review: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1)

Robin LaFevers

Publication Date: April 3rd 2012

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Pages: 549

Genre:  Historical, Fantasy, Young Adult

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?
This was not the first book I had read by LaFevers. She has also written the Middle-Grade level Theodesia books which I adore for their fantastic characters and well written plots (You can find reviews of the first two books of that series here and here). Unlike those books Grave Mercy is much more serious, not being a quirky middle grade novel, but instead a historical fantasy young adult novel. It was however just as brilliant.

This book has entered the same place in my heart that I keep Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder and Graceling by Kristin Cashore. The writing style is similar with a nice balance of intrigue, believable characters, fantastic world building and political seriousness. Unlike the other two books, however, Grave Mercy throws in elements of history, taking place in a Brittany trying to avoid being swallowed by France.

The beginning was a bit slow. I wasn't sure if I would enjoy the book any more than normal during that point, I was afraid I'd want to put it down, but as soon as Duval was officially introduced things took off. We are introduced to characters, plots, intrigue and of course, romance.

Of all the things I enjoyed in this book, the romance is hands down what I enjoyed the most. Our two main characters were bursting with chemistry, chemistry they both tried to pretend they didn't have. What's most impressive is the amount of show, instead of tell, LaFevers used to put across Ismae's attraction to him. There wasn't sentences going on about how amazing he was, instead Ismae's body language and way she reacted spoke for her in the beginning. It reminded me of how I myself develop crushes on people.

Then the romance is pretty much drama free, and I do love drama-free romances. They trust each other and there are bigger things to deal with in the novel, they wouldn't have been able to afford romantic bickering, things are just way too dire.

The world of Death's Handmaidens is also a very interesting idea, I love the thought of it.

I recommend this book to anyone who likes well-written young adult fantasy (because although it is historical as well it reads more like a fantasy novel in my opinion). I also recommend it to anyone who likes their romance well-written and non-angsty. If you enjoy books by Maria V. Snyder and Kristin Cashore, you will enjoy books by LaFevers.



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