Source: Around the World ARC Tours
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?
Ismae is a fierce young woman whose life hasn't been easy but she's made it through. The sisters at St. Mortain offer her the chance of a lifetime--to seek retribution. She's really a natural at it too. She's immune to poisons and skilled in the arts that the sisters of St. Mortain teach her. I thoroughly enjoyed her quick decision-making skills (even if she didn't always make the "right" choice) and her strong, take-no-crap personality.
The male love interest as it were was interesting to me and by the end I found that I really liked him. His relationship with Ismae developed at a reasonable pace and her reactions to him felt fairly suited to someone unfamiliar with dealing with men (she did, after all, often skip out on that class). She didn't simply bend to the wiles of a man either--her relationship with him felt like a natural extension of her personal development.
The combination of setting, action, and characters made this a stellar read for me. I enjoyed the descriptions that Ms. LaFevers puts into your imagination ranging from the harsh countryside to the stark convent and then into the bustling court. The characters each carry their own weight and fill their roles well and it reads much like a historical fiction novel, if you're into that sort of thing. Full of religion, court politics, and romance, Grave Mercy is a book that I won't soon forget and I'm quite excited to read the sequel!