Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
*eBook received from the publisher via NetGalley*
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. (Goodreads)
Grave Mercy and I started off on the wrong foot, as there is a map and cast of characters listed at the beginning.
This happens to be one of my reading pet peeves, as I don’t like having to plow through a cast of characters that I haven’t even met yet!
It also makes me suspicious that the author feels the need to list the characters, as if the reader will be confused otherwise. Thankfully, this was not the case!
Once I started reading, the story really drew me in!
Ismae has been treated horribly her entire life because she is “marked” by the god of death, with scars from her mother’s failed attempt to expel her from the womb.
Unloved and unwanted, Ismae is rescued from her new brute of a husband and taken to an isolated convent.
A convent full of assassin nuns!
How cool is that?
Quickly taking to her new life, Ismae discovers that she is immune to poison and is assigned to the Poisons Mistress.
She isn’t as successful in all of her studies (history and womanly arts are kind of boring), but she does well enough to be sent on her first assignment.
And it’s a success!
Her second assignment doesn’t go as smoothly and the Abbess receives a complaint about Ismae. This complaint leads to her third and most challenging assignment, undercover at the royal court.
Most of the story deals with her undercover assignment in the court of the young Duchess Anne of Brittany.
Using Anne’s half-brother Gavriel Duval as part of her cover, she tries to figure out who is plotting against the duchess. All while dealing with her growing feelings for Duval.
To be honest, most historical fiction isn’t to my liking and I get bored with all the double-crosses and schemes. Thankfully there wasn’t too much court intrigue in this one and it easily held my interest.
All in all a very satisfying read!
The author has come up with a very interesting premise – assassin nuns!
And I loved seeing Ismae explore her gifts and become more confident in her duties as Death’s Handmaiden.
Looking forward to reading the rest of the series, as I really like these characters!