Fifteen year old Ismae barely escapes the clutches of an old, violent husband, when she is saved by the nuns of the convent of St. Mortain, the god of death. Over a two year period, she is taught by the nuns in the art of killing, seduction, and deception, in order to serve her god well.
Now at seventeen, she is thrust out of the safe walls of the convent and into the real world, as the court of Brittany requires her assistance.
At court, Ismae discovers that things are not exactly as they seem, especially since she is tasked on protecting the young Duchess’s interests and her life, while danger seems to come at every turn. It is here at court that Ismae learns that serving the convent or St Mortain isn’t as easy as she thought it would be… especially when her heart is at stake.
So this is going to be a tough review to write for me, especially since I was very excited going into this book. When it first came out last year, the story really intrigued me and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. But then I read some mixed reviews on Goodreads, which made me hesitant to read it. But then I decided to ignore the reviews, especially since the gorgeous cover kept staring at me for the past few months at work. Now I understand why there were mixed reviews. But let’s start with the good stuff first…
For a girl that’s trained in the art of killing, I think it’s safe to say that Ismae is no meek or weak girl; instead, she uses intellect and skill to work her way around the problems of court, and to try and stay one step ahead of her enemies. She doesn’t let Duval, the man she’s come to court with, make decisions for her, but instead, does things her own way.
Ismae also doesn’t fall headfirst into love, which is something I really appreciated, after reading so many books with insta-love. Instead, the romance between her and Duval is slow, yet meaningful, which isn’t just based on attraction, but instead on mutual understanding and a meeting of the minds. This was awesome.
The political drama at the court of Brittany also helped carry the story forward. As a self-proclaimed history lover, I really enjoyed the historical references, especially since I focused on Christianity and loved learning about how it slowly made it’s way through Europe. LaFevers definitely did her research, and it showed!
So what made me not love this book? I actually can’t pinpoint it on anything, unfortunately. Looking at the major plot points, Grave Mercy had all the makings of a great YA historical novel, but for some reason, it failed to hold my attention. Granted, I was kind of distracted on the days I read it, but it didn’t pull me completely into the story. It took awhile to get into the story, especially after Ismae joined the convent, but then it picked up significantly after she joined court. Towards the end though, it lost me again.
That’s not to say that it wasn’t an enjoyable read, because it definitely was. It just wasn’t for me.
So for that: 3/5.
Thanks for reading,