Review: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Review: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Review: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Series: ,
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: April 3rd 2012
Pages: 550
Format: Hardcover
Buy the book: AmazonB&N



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?


My Review

This was the definition of a three star read. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t like or love it either. 

When she is thirteen years old, Ismae is sent to a convent filled with nuns who serve their god Mortain aka Death. She is sent there to avoid a marriage to the old and cruel man her father sold her to.

Ismae becomes an assassin and at 17 she is sent on her first  major assignment. She is forced to pretend to be the mistress of Duval, the illegitimate son of a Duke.

This leads to a lot of cloak and dagger type stuff that I won’t pretend I fully understood. The short of it is that Duval’s sister, the future leader of their country, is being threatened by several different people, and they are on the brink of war. Both Ismae and Duval want to find out who they can and cannot trust with the future Dutchess and prevent her from having to enter into an awful marriage, at 13 years old, with a cruel and abusive man. (You read that right. The future Dutchess and Ismae lead very similar lives.) It is the similarities in their stories and loyalty to the royal family that drive Ismae to protect the young girl at all cost, and love and honor cause Duval to do the same.

I never connected with Ismae. In the beginning of the book, she was too pious and judgmental, especially when you consider the fact that she killed people. And towards the end of the book, she was a little too obsessed with Duval, and he became almost all she thought about. However, I liked her more when she was in love than when she was bitter.

Duval was a decent leading man. He was almost perfect, and that was a good thing because Ismae was searching for any reason to turn on him. He was noble, kind, and just enough in love with her to make me smile a few times. However, he was also boring. Perfection is boring, it just is.

I was also let down by the mystery. The reveal of who was trying to destroy the Dutchess was a let down. I kept waiting for another twist, but unfortunately, it never happened.

I am firmly in the minority when it comes to my thoughts on this book so don’t take me that seriously. It wasn’t bad or offensive, but it was almost worse because it was boring.


Before I end this review, I need to rant about something.

Seriously, if you haven’t read the book, do not read this. It doesn’t reveal a major plot point, but it is a spoiler.

View Spoiler »

I was certain that was not going to continue with this series, but then my buddy read buddy told me that the next book focuses on 2 of my favorite characters from this book. I will just have to suck it up and hope that the next book will be better since it stars more interesting people.

The writing in Grave Mercy was pretty good so if the author maintains that and adds in these great characters, I might just end up liking the next book.

If you like historical romance, and don’t mind a slow read with lots and lots of talking and thinking and manipulating, read this one.

Because of violence and mild sexual content, I would recommend this book for ages 14 and up. There were no detailed sex scenes.

3 Roses

One StarOne StarOne Star

Author Biography

About Robin LaFevers

Robin LaFevers was raised on a steady diet of fairy tales, Bulfinch’s mythology, and 19th century poetry. It is not surprising she grew up to be a hopeless romantic.

Though she has never trained as an assassin or joined a convent, she did attend Catholic school for three years, which instilled in her a deep fascination with sacred rituals and the concept of the Divine. She has been on a search for answers to life’s mysteries ever since.

While many of those answers still elude her, she was lucky enough to find her one true love, and is living happily ever after with him in the foothills of southern California.

In addition to writing about teen assassin nuns in medieval Brittany, she writes books for middle grade readers, including the Theodosia books and the Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist series. You can learn more about those books at

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2 thoughts on “Review: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

  1. I can see where you’re coming from with not understanding all of the politics that are involved in the plot line. I didn’t get it myself until at least the 4th or 5th time I read the book. It’s one of those books that would be great to read with a wall-to-wall wipe board so you can write down every little detail and connect it to events and people, you know? The book really does make a huge web and it can get really tricky remembering everyone’s names, their significance, and what country they represent. Kind of reminds me of an Agatha Christie book! In any case, the next books are pretty good in my opinion so I hope you like them more than this one! Lovely review!

    Laura @BlueEyeBooks

    1. Yeah, I can get easily overwhelmed when it comes to the politics in books, and can’t keep up with more than a few characters at a time.

      I may give this one a reread some day though because it was an excellent idea. I well definitely be reading the next book because it focuses on my fav characters from Grave Mercy.

      Glad to hear you like the whole series!

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