Title: Grave Mercy
Author: R.L. LaFevers
Published: April 3rd 2012
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Read synopsis: Goodreads
Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
I was doubtful I would enjoy this during the first parts but surprisingly as the story progressed, for someone like me who's not much into historical and political stuffs, I found myself getting thoroughly engaged into everything that was happening. It was indeed a stunning and impressive read.
The synopsis instantly caught my interest and definitely had me when I saw the promise of 'assassin nuns'. However, I didn't know that it was set in a historical period. I haven't read any historical fiction (aside from the Infernal Devices) and they don't usually float my boat so I became a bit uninterested and less excited. Adding to that, the first few chapters didn't go well with me, especially the religious aspects. It was a little uncomfortable and unnerving for me. The sisters in the convent and their beliefs was quite spooky and freaky. But I was glad when the story didn't dwell on those part for long and went to Ismae's tasks fast. From then on I find myself gradually getting devoured and caught up with the happenings, twists and discoveries in the story. I can't seem to put it down.
The plot was unique and fantastical and the writing was really great and surprisingly smooth and easy. Much of the concepts and ideas were a bit new to me so everything went a bit unpredictable which was really good since it kept me curious and interested. The political stuffs was actually intriguing and attention-grabbing. Some readers might find it boring but since the characters really grew on me and I love and care for them, I was so interested in figuring things out too. I find myself thoroughly engage with it - how they're gonna fight the opposing side and win, what actions and strategies they're going to do, who's to be trusted and who's not. The paranormal aspect was also cool, it blended very well with all the other aspects of the book.
The characters were remarkable. Ismae's a kick-butt heroine! I wasn't sure of her at first since she seems to be really naive and trust the convent pretty much. I was glad when she started questioning the things taught to her, doing and believeing her own observation, trusting other people, and following her heart. I also loved it whenever she kills (whoa! there goes my twisted sense of humor! lol) or more like how she does it, the way she fights and uses her weapons which were actually really cool. Despite her terrible past she's a very caring, understnading and loyal person - to Duval, to Anne and Isabeau, to Beast and De Lornay and even to Duval's mother. It was great when she realized the right and real purpose of her ability and what Death really wanted for her - how she stand up to it and believed on it.
Duval was an outstanding character. He's intelligent and wise, brave and loving. His loyalty to his country and sister was impressive. Despite being a little aloof during the first parts he was actually very kind and caring gentleman. Hist strategies and ideas were great and remarkable. I love how his and Ismae's relationship developed, it was slow but more believable. The ending was lovely and really sweet!
Anne's character was very striking (She reminds me of Nunally in Code Geas! XD). She radiates wisdom and knowledge at a very young age. I, sometimes can't quite make myself believed that a 12 year-old girl will be able to think like that and the idea that she would be married to a much older man at that age irked me. But given the time period, I think it was pretty believable and I know the author made a fair share of research on that. Other character was very admirable like Beast and De Lornay.
I was so sad that he died. I think he was the only character described as gorgeous. What a waste! LOL, they were brave and a very loyal friends, I love how much they trust and value Duval.
All in all, it was very spectacular and stunning story! The blending of history, politics, and paranormal was great. It made the story more interesting and brilliant. The characters were well developed, the actions and twists were thrilling and the ending was very satisfying. I highly recommend this, even if your not much into historical fiction, I think this might be a good start for you! :))
*An advance copy has been provided by the publisher via the Negalley in exchange for an honest review.