Review: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
Summary: Before Ismae was born, her mother tried to abort her using a poison. It didn’t work, except now Ismae is covered in a horrifying scar, and everyone in her village thinks she is the work of the devil. This isn’t far from the truth—after escaping an arranged marriage, Ismae is smuggled to the convent of St. Mortain, where special girls are trained in the art of death. Working for the God of Death, it is Ismae’s job to kill traitors to the country of Brittany.
My thoughts: There are many elements that make Grave Mercy an excellent novel. The first is its world. LaFevers dips into the history of the thirteenth century but adds her own twist—a group of girls who kill for the god of Death. The mythology surrounding those who do Mortain’s will is intriguing, and the author does a fantastic job of developing it to the fullest. The very moment we enter the world of Grave Mercy, we’re instantly taken with how lush—and yet how dark and sly—it is.
Grave Mercy is also memorable for its writing: LaFevers writes complexly; she does not shy away from darker subject matter, and she uses a style that clearly expresses the historical setting. Grave Mercy is a prime example of a novel that doesn’t try to write for teens–it tells its story, and that story just so happens to be perfect for YA readers. There’s something to be said for a book with beautiful prose, and Grave Mercy says it loud and clear.
As a heroine, Ismae is more of an observer than anything else. A truly guarded individual, she doesn’t let much of herself seep into her narration. This is interesting, because it really gives us a sense of who Ismae is, despite not spelling anything out (it also gives us a chance to step into her shoes). Ismae gives off an excellent girl-power vibe: she refuses to let any man take advantage of her, and she is in control of what happens to her. I loved this about Ismae, and I loved her ability to soften once she became comfortable in her own skin.
One last thing to mention is the romance. It’s the best kind of romance—that slow-building and subtle kind that has the potential to catch fire.
Grave Mercy is a perfect choice for readers looking to try something new. And fantasy fans—this one is for you. The concept is fresh and absorbing, the political intrigue always exciting, and the characters always lovable. Grave Mercy is unlike anything I’ve ever read before!
For those who like: Fantasy, historical settings, girl power
Source: received from publisher at ALA Midwinter. Thank you!