Book Review: Grave Mercy Author: Robin LaFevers

WARNING: SPOILERS INCLUDED IN REVIEW

I started this trilogy because the premise for the books seemed unique and interesting to me. It’s not every day that you see a book quite like this, with a convent of teenage girls trained in the art of righteous assassination.  The concept, righteous assassination, almost seems oxymoronic in and of itself.  The author navigates this controversial concept with extreme grace and skill, weaving in internal doubt and confusion about the morality of the actions of main character, Ismae. Set in late 15th- early 16th century Europe, during the time of the Holy Roman empire and the French and Britannic war for territory, LaFevers brings to life a thrilling tale of court intrigue, murder, deception, and even love during a time of war.

The main character, Ismae, is a trained assassin with an immunity to poison, due to the unusual circumstances of her birth.  She is relatively reserved, most likely due to her unfortunate past, with a fierce aversion to men.  She is planted in the Breton court, with the instructions to work with the half-brother of the duchess, Duval, to protect the duchy from both the French and the vile machinations of the duchess’s would be husband- D’Albret.  Predictably, although hostile at first, Ismae and Duval begin to fall for each other, as they see each other through several harrowing and life-threatening experiences. In my opinion, this romance was a little too expected to be above-average, but it was heartwarming, nonetheless. Watching a somewhat star-crossed love affair meet a happy ending is always an enjoyable experience.

The author wove a bewitching tale of betrayal and deception that always kept you guessing. Crunard poisoning Duval was, in hindsight, obvious, but the reader is unable to see this while reading the book. My favorite part of this book and of the trilogy as a whole is how the author does an amazing job of keeping the setting intact. She periodically reminds the reader that the duchess, who sets about three separate engagements, is but thirteen years old, which was common for the time period but still shocking. The author makes sure the weapons, the fashion, the dialect, and the details provided about the time, society, and geography all support the time period she’s chosen to place this story into. LaFevers ability to seamlessly graft 21st century ideas in a 16th century setting, making this trilogy truly something worth reading.

OVERALL RATING: 3.5/5 stars

Read, Written, and Reviewed by: Scarlett Smith

 

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