Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
484 pages (Paperback Ed.)
Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?When I first heard about this book, I was sold with these two words: "assassin nuns". I mean, that idea has epic written all over it. Ultimately, I would not call Grave Mercy epic, but it did prove to be a great read.
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? (From Goodreads)
The story starts quite slow, as they are establishing the convent and how Ismae got involved. I started to get worried that our main character was going to be 14 years old for the whole thing. Quickly though, we flash ahead three years to the present day, and Ismae's first kill. If that's not a scrapbook worthy moment, I don't know what is. The plot slowly starts to pick up from there, but really didn't get going until about half way through. From that point on, I had a hard time putting the book down.
The characters were well written, while being not overly complicated. They foster a lot of secrets, that are revealed throughout the book. Not going to lie, I may have had some serious "insta-love" for Duval. His dedication and perseverance to what he believes in were extremely attractive, but I am glad Ismae does not experience the same "insta-love" I do. Their relationship develops throughout the book, which makes a much, much better story.
While I have no clue how historically accurate any of the world is, I feel like having of an explanation of Brittany, or perhaps a map, would have been a benefit. Eventually, I had to ask my history major roommate where Brittany was, and she had to google it. I did enjoy the historical nature though, and was able to kind of picture myself in the 1400s. Again, who knows how historically accurate my vision was, but it worked for me.
I really enjoyed Grave Mercy, which played out in my head like a movie. The next in the series, Dark Triumph, is about Sybella, another of the assassins, and is due for release April 2nd, 2013. While I'm upset that there is the potential for less Duval, I am excited for the story to continue!
Much love, Samantha