The book starts off with seventeen-year-old Ismae, fleeing from a brutal arranged marriage. She finds shelter with the nuns at the convent of St. Mortain. The nuns here serve the old god of Death. Ismae finds she has been chosen to be one of the nuns and be trained as an assassin. She is sent on mission to the high court of Brittany, where she poses as the mistress of the mysterious Gavriel Duval.
There is so much to love in this story. Ismae is an assassin and does kill. The author could have made Ismae hard core without any feelings. Instead we watch as Ismae questions and also struggles with her feelings toward Duval. She's used to being ridiculed and scorned by her childhood villagers so to have any tenderness shown to her is confusing. Add to this the deadly court games of love and intrigue.
I love the court intrigues and the whole balance of power between nobility. The best part though has to be seeing a powerful woman who is able to make choices. Ismae is similar to one of Tamora Pierce's strong women protagonists. Let's just say Ismae is like a Medieval La Femme Nikita set in a world of nobility and intrigue.
Great pacing filled with lush descriptions and action will keep you glued to the pages. Reading GRAVE MERCY was like visiting an old friend. LaFevers is a master storyteller who weaves an awesome tale that you want to be trapped in. I devoured this story and wanted more. The mystery, suspense, and yes, even romance made me sad when I finished reading. The only bad thing is that I have to wait till Spring 2013 for the second book in this amazing series.
If you love YA historicals with strong protagonist, this is the book.
2. Lush images, details
3. Assassin nuns in Medieval Europe during 1488
4. Something for everyone: mystery, court intrigue, assassin nuns, and romance
5. I totally fell in love with this story
6. Strong female protagonist