Title: Grave Mercy
Author: R.L. LaFevers
Borrowed from: Ann Arbor District Library
GoodReads Rating: 4 Stars
Review: Grave Mercy tells the story of an assassin. A female assassin. A teenage, female assassin. A teenage, female assassin who happens to be in a convent. Ismae has had a tragic life growing up in 15th century France. She is saved when sent to live and become a nun within the convent of St. Mortain – the Saint of Death. These young, beautiful assassins work in mysterious ways through the seer of the convent and the knowledge that those who need to die are marked by death and the Saint himself. Sent to court with her “cousin” to learn about the families at court to determine actions that will best help France during war-time, Ismae finds herself taking matters into her own hands. What follows is an intricate story of death, love, deception, betrayal and ultimately the triumph of peace over vengeance.
Recommended for ages 14 and up. First book in the “His Fair Assassin” trilogy.
Spoilers may be found in the following discussion.
Reaction: Overall this is an enjoyable read and the concept drew me in – nuns that work for the saint of death. The idea was new to me plus it is historical fiction which I love to read. The introductory chapters immediately made me want to learn more about the convent and nuns who worship, and act in his stead, St. Mortain.
We follow Ismae into the convent (which happens quickly) and we follow her outside of the convent but her training and her work inside the convent? That’s covered in few chapters. I wanted more! My hope is that in the future books of this series we learn more, however since the second book is changing focus on characters (we no longer will be reading from Ismae’s point of view), I’m not sure this will happen. I want to know all the assassin nuns. I want to know how they learn their skills and secrets. I want to know why these assassin nuns are necessary – why this convent and not a “traditional” one?
This book also has a lot of political discussions that make up a large portion of the story. After all, that is why Ismae is with Duval at court and not restrained to only leaving the convent to kill. Ismae shows restraint with her death skills and even experiments with whether or not St. Mortain provides mercy for those who repent. This ultimately informs her decisions at the end of the novel. I hope we learn more about how those decisions affect her convent life.
I absolutely loved the moment between Ismae and St. Mortain. I know that it helps Ismae realize how she wants to use her skills and knowledge of death. I loved that she found ways to help souls. I hope we get to learn how the dramatic change between becoming the helpful maidens of death to maidens of murder happened. Have we met the responsible parties? Was it a case of too much power or not enough? Is this a question that will never be answered?
What about you – what are you reading lately? What do I need to add to my list?