June 11, 2015

Oldie Review: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
Series: His Fair Assassins #1
Source: Bought Hardcover
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Original Post: April 3rd, 2013
Age Genre: Young Adult
Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?
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?
When Grave Mercy came out, everyone were going gaga over the idea of assassin nuns. However, I wasn't planning on reading it. While the idea is superbly cool, I had my doubts on whether the book could live up to such an intriguing hype.

But one day, when I was cruising a site called Libbo (that has since stopped operating), I saw Robin LaFevers put the book up for grabs for those who publicate the book. So I did, not expecting to win. But then did win, and now I had an e-book copy of this book everyone is talking about. So... I read it. And loved it. And bought it. Twice.
This book was unlike what I expected, but in a good way. It has it's flaws, but at the end of the day, I really enjoyed this mammoth of a book (the hardcover is HUGE. It could double as a lethal weapon, easy).

Grave Mercy is not really about assassin nuns. It's about blind faith, making your own choices and understanding "god's will". Understanding there is no such thing is absolute truth, or even a true truth.

The first installment of the trilogy tells the story of Ismae, a farmer's daughter who was sired by Death itself. Being Death's own, she ends up in the Covenant; a place that worships Death and carries His Will. In other words: Assassination.

She's brave and strong, and she grows and matures through the book as she takes off the wool over her eyes and starts thinking for herself and questioning what she is told, instead of blindly trying to prove her worth and loyalty to the Covenant.

The uncovering is set into motion by Duval, a man she is sent to keep an eye on for the suspicion of treason. But instead of a traitor, she finds the most loyal man. A man filled with compassion, care, kindness, strength and duty. A man she grows to care for, trust, and love. And if the covenant is so wrong about him--what else might they be wrong about?

And the romance between these two?
That pretty much sums it up, thanks! Slow burn. 
And the both of them are well suited, covering for each other's weakness and creating one whole together.

That said, I did feel it was lacking in the process of falling in love, especially on Duval's part (since we are not in his head). It was all rather sudden, missing those small moments that would have convinced me he loved her.

This book is pretty unique. I haven't read many historical YA novels before, and none that were also a cross with fantasy and mythology like this one. The mixture creates a delightfully fresh and complex story that you can't help but devour.

I do feel obligated to warn you: yes, they are assassin nuns. It does not mean that the book is fast paced though. The book starts slow and features many political intrigues; schemes; betrayals; as opposed to flat-out action, with the action meter going up slowly as we get farther into the story.

One of the greatest thing about this book is the realism of it. And yes, a fantasy YA novel can and needs to be realistic; in terms of making the reader believe that, were all these things possible, this is how it would've went down.

As for the writing itself... I did not like it. Yep, I know; WTF. This is the main reason the book is a four star; I just didn't connect with the writing style. It took me a long while to get into it and get used to the sound of it.

The other minus of this book is the character's names. They were just so distracting. I kept stopping and trying out different pronunciations, trying to figure out how the heck LaFevers meant for them to sound. And it wasn't just one or two names; it was all the names.

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