Book Review: Grave Mercy

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1)
Published By: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: April 3, 2012
Page Count: 549
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via NetGalley
Audience: Young Adult - Historical Fiction, Fantasy

I loved this. 

For the nuns of St Mortain, life is a little different than the average nun. They are trained in the art of death, and deliver it to anyone found deserving by St Mortain, their patron saint and God. For this reason, Ismae is sent to attend the 15th century court of the Duchess of Brittany. The Duchess is a young girl who is beset on all sides by those who would betray her to the looming threat of an invasion by France, and Ismae must find out who the traitors are and dispatch them before they can do more harm.

Ismae has her crosses to bear. She must pose as the mistress of Duval, an important figure in the court who does not trust her one bit. Sadly for Ismae, Gavriel Duval is a man of honor, integrity, and someone who she just can't help but fall for, even though she has good cause to despise men. The two have to learn to work together and cast their suspicions aside to untangle the web of intrigue surrounding the Duchess' court. 

Their is so much to love about this story; whether you enjoy light fantasy, historical fiction, tales of murder most horrid, or even romance. This has it all, and it is all written so well. I was initially concerned that there were too many political machinations, but R.L. LaFevers walked the line perfectly to keep me hungry for just another little clue about who the wretched traitor could be. The romance was perfectly pitched, building slowly in an Austen-like fashion, and reading those scenes was simply delicious. I think that this would appeal to fans of Maria V. Snyder, and particularly those that loved Poison Study; the 'feel' of both books is similar.

The supporting cast of characters was rich and drew many a smile from me; I have hopes that a good number of them will return for the sequel, Dark Triumph, in spring 2013. I will definitely be making that a top reading priority! 

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?


  1. Great review, Jen! This one is going on my Kindle wishlist for sure. You're review convinced me that it's a must read.

  2. Books with everything in it. From fantasy to love, that sounds amazing! I always like mixed books :D Thanks for the review.

  3. Ismae Rienne is a novice assassin and GRAVE MERCY is a coming of age novel, more or less. Our heroine starts out naïve and eager to please, a good little soldier, and given her profession it's inevitable that when she falters on her path to self-discovery someone else usually ends up dead. This made me hate Ismae, at times, and I found it hard to excuse her brash arrogance or the sheer enthusiasm she had for murder. But it's all part of her journey, and I liked the person she became by the end.

    The early chapters of GRAVE MERCY are set at the convent/assassin school where Ismae learns her trade but most of the novel concerns itself with her first big job. And this big job? It is much, much too big for her.

  4. I've seen this book on so many "best of 2012" lists! I originally didn't know if I'd like it but now feel like I have to give it a try. Thanks for your honest thoughts!

  5. I really liked this one, but I didn't love it. I just wanted MORE of the Assassination aspect. Didn't get enough. Hopefully the sequel will provide.

  6. This was absolutely incredible!! LOVE IT!! The legend of the saint, the world, the nuns - awesome:))

    Lovely review:)

  7. I've seen mixed reviews of this one, but I usually really enjoy historical fiction and the idea of assassin nuns is just too intriguing to pass up!

  8. I have always had a soft spot for historical fiction. Assassin nuns are just the icing on the cake

  9. Someone wrote a book about assassin nuns and i haven't read it yet? What is wrong with me? Guess what my Christmas money is now going towards? Thanks for the review :)

  10. Grave Mercy was just perfect. After I read it, I couldn't help talking about it to anyone who'd listen. Can't wait for the next book in the series.

  11. I love stories about assassins! And this has assassin nuns? Gotta read this one! Thanks for the review!

  12. This is another book I've been anxious to get my hands on! I've heard it can be a little slow at times, but it just sounds so amazing!

  13. I want this as much as I want Legend. I studied in a Catholic school run by nuns and I know several strong-willed, courageous, and inspiring nuns. It feels good to see a book about a nun as a heroine.


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