Grave Mercy - Robin LaFevers

Medieval murder mystery with the detective being a fair handmaiden of Death. Okay. I’ll bite.

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?

Where do I start with this story? I think I shall give first impressions. We first meet Ismae as a very young tween sold by her father into marriage with an absolute…well, pig. She is beaten by her new husband once he sees she carries the mark of the good of death, Mortain. Then, she is rescued by the secret society of St. Mortain and trained in the way of death. That’s pretty much the beginning of the book. For some reason, Kristen Cashore’s Graceling popped into my mind. The stories are very different, but there are similarities. Bad ass lead female who is investigating strange occurrences and are tasked with taking the lives of others.

And as the book continues, the similarities continue. They each are traveling with a handsome young man of noble birth who, at first, is at odds with said female hero. But then, slowly, begin to understand each other and slowly fall in love with each other amidst all the obstacles and perils that get in their way. The couples then go forth into a completely new and strange world together, unafraid because they have each other.

But…I’m okay with this. Because Graceling was a completely amazing book, and Grave Mercy is a completely different book that is amazing in its own right.

“Wait a second,” you might be thinking. “You just went over how these books were just a like.”
Yes, this is true. But what I said is that they are similar. But, I think I like Ismae a bit more than Katsa. I don’t know why. Katsa is a bit more of believable character (despite the whole Grace thing where she can kill people or survive whatever situation is thrown at here...). The element that is bringing me to love Ismae’s story a bit more, is the spiritual and mystic that has been infused in her world. I know that probably sounds silly, but these elements of mythology make the story beautiful and terrifying at the same time. Following the word of a god of Death? Without question? Without hesitation?

So….much….internal….conflict!! And I love internal conflict. Ismae's battle and struggle that is brewing insider her is so well written, that I was kind of sad to see it in. The pain! The self hate! I love all that stuff because it's real. Everyday, we battle with an internal conflict and wear masks to hide the truth from the world. And Ismae wears her make perfectly. Until that is, she falls for the handsome Gavriel Duval. There is always one person that we can open up to, and its the person who is most like us. 

Robin LeFevers did not waste a word or a character, as each person that Ismae comes in contact with not only furthers the story, but also her development into not just an assassin but a woman. Yeah. It’s pretty nice story telling.

If you are looking for a great tale filed with intrigue and mystery and total feels in a medieval setting and you like well crafted words, I say give this book a try. By the time I finished this, I sooooo wanted to be handmaiden of Death. Because let’s get real…why be the Sheep when you can be the Wolf?

(And oh my lordy there is a book two! Bring on the drama and internal conflict!)

Until next time...
Remember to be yourself, unless you can be a pirate....then ALWAYS be a pirate!