Publisher: Andersen Press Ltd
Young, beautiful and deadly. Trained as an assassin by the god of Death, Ismae is sent to the court of Brittany, where she finds herself under prepared - not only for the 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?
GRAVE MERCY was a total win for me right from the very beginning. With such a kick-ass and promising premise, all it really needed was a great and a badassery, variety kind of protagonist and the author, in this case, delivered in every way imaginable, even to my own surprise. I've been waiting for a book like this one for quite some time now in the YA genre and it definitely came at the right time too because I loved it to pieces from the heroine all the way down to its dark, itty gritty side of the 15th century!
The story's main heroine, Ismae, was one of my favourite characters by far this year. With very little effort on the author's part, I was instantly drawn to this deadly, stubborn, strong-willed young woman and I loved every single thing about her. Ismae may have had an awful upbringing and you hated her family for treating her the way they did, but as Ismae is shipped off to a covenant and introduced to the world of assassins, and soon figuring out what kills her makes her stronger to become the person she was always meant to be . . . she became everything that I love in my heroines: A a fiery passion to survive. The thing that separates her from every other heroine I know of today is that she never questions her loyalties and never allows anyone to make her feel weak - not even for a second - she was just being Ismae and let me tell you this Ismae will kick your ass any day if you get in her way!
As far as romances go in YA historical books, this romance was beyond AWESOME and one of the best romances I've read yet this year! I wholeheartedly adored Isame's love interest, Duval, not because he was mysterious and handsome from head to toe (okay, maybe it was part of it), but rather I loved his relationship with Ismae because it was an uneasy alliance between them and it was all about their mission rather than it being about love, love, love. At least at first, which is why I loved these two main characters so, so much. They just clicked together, you know? On a whole other level. Passion and all. With his desire to protect his charge, with his half-sister being the Duchess and with him having this unseemly desire to protect Ismae when his heart is always telling him otherwise, I'm sure many readers will fall for this guy and melt your insides. He sure had that affect on me.
But when you overlook the characters, what I truly loved the most was the historical aspect of the book and the detail it offered to me. Whether you're a fan of history or not, I thought Robin LaFevers painted the perfect picture of the 15th century of Brittany - the whole feel I got from the book gave me chills as if I was right there with the characters. The writing, the attention to details, the clothing people wore and even the mannerisms, and the way people spoke to each other, just felt so real to me in this past setting and it was so easy for me to visualize what people were like back then so . . . I just loved it! But of course, it certainly helps me already being a fan of this certain period so kudos to the author for writing such a book for me to enjoy!
Overall, with a book containing a strong-willed heroine, secret societies, an in-depth storyline and a well developed young romance, along with some classic action and magic and all sorts of political drama that sets things on very high stakes, GRAVE MERCY will definitely appeal to historical readers and even readers of the likes of A Game of Thrones, Shadow and Bone and Graceling! Trust me here: You DON'T want to miss out on this book!
4 1/2 / 5 stars