Monday, May 7, 2012

A Vengeful Mercy

Published: April 3rd, 2012
Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin # 1)
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
ISBN-13: 9780547628349

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?


   Ismae has always known she was different.  The fact that her Mother had tried to have her expelled from the womb with poison (and failed) left the markings to prove her right.  Her stepfather regarded her as cursed, marrying her off to the first man who would take her.  When he saw the markings Ismae's new husband almost  beat her to death.  But she was saved by a priest, who took her to the convent of St. Mortain where the nuns served Death himself as assassins and whatever else is needed.   Ismae is eager to have her first assignment, which is to infiltrate the high court of Brittany and find the traitor against the Queen.  Then the traitor must die of course.  But is everything truly as it seems?  Is Ismae truly doing Death's will and can she hold onto her heart against love while she carries out her orders?  I am normally loathe to read books that involve political intrigue of any sort.  Even if they're wrapped up in pagan, historical, 15th century kick-ass books like this one.  I liked that Miss LaFevers focused more on the individual characters than the political machinations - at least enough that as a reader I actually cared what would happen to them.  It was a very believable book, including the romance which was a slow build, compared to the usual insta-love of YA books.  Gavriel is the perfect match for Ismae, because he makes her question the blind faith she has for the Nuns of St. Mortain.  Plus, the visit that she receives from Death himself is pretty fantastic.  The idea of Nun assassins probably is the freshest concept that I've read so far this year.  It was a most welcome change from vampires, werewolves and ghosts.  It reminded me a lot of The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley, in a really good way.  This book was definitely worth the read and now I'm dying to have my hands on the next one!  I already know who it will be about (from the little summary in the back of the book) and Sybella was one of the most intriguing minor characters of the book.  I urge you to read this one if you like historical, yet fantastical books with adventure, romance and intrigue.

VERDICT:  4.85/5  Stars

*No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores and online.* 

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