Grave Mercy, Robin LaFevers – Book Review

Hello Humans! Welcome back to another book review. In today’s review, murder, nuns, forbidden romance, daggers hidden in boobs – it’s everything a girl could ask for.

Grave Mercy Robin LaFevers

Goodreads Summary:

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?

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I’ve not been shy on this blog before about discussing my passion for assassin books. My love of Nevernight knows no bounds and Red Sister is another winner for me. It would seem that a Catholic education left me with nothing but the ability to cross myself at a moments notice and the belief that all nuns must secretly be assassins. So this book, which promised me pretty much exactly that, was a sure-win for me.

We meet our character with a fun description about how her mother attempted to terminate her pregnancy (as in the mother’s pregnancy) and thus made her daughter have a special affinity with the old God Mortain (God of death). To say this book plunges you in at the deep end is no understatement. We are also confronted within the first few pages with a forced marriage to a would-be abusive husband. It doesn’t make for pleasant reading and I’d advise reader discretion if that’s the kind of thing you’d rather avoid reading about, although you could probably just skip the first chapter or so and you’d get around it. As the summary suggests they then go to the convent of Saint Mortain (more on that later) where Ismae is to learn to be the best assassin she can be.

That’s where my problem was.

There’s a three-year time jump at chapter six. There is no training montage. You don’t get to read the poor sad girl learn how to kick ass and poison everybody, it’s totally missing from the book. There isn’t even the literary equivalent of a montage?! I felt cheated. It would have made so much sense to have it there, it wouldn’t have made the book unreadable in length, but no, no learning how to murder from the nuns for you.

But the rest of the plot is actually pretty cool, so I wasn’t overly bitter (I’m still pretty bitter) about the lack of montage. I won’t go into too much detail about the plot because I think it’s one that will read better if you don’t have a full idea of what happens. I will say that there’s a heavy dose of intrigue, a heck of a lot of conspiracy, and court politics abound.

There is also romance, it’s quite a predictable romance (so again I won’t go into too much detail to avoid spoiling anything for you), but I found it hugely enjoyable to read. I thought it was just the right amount of cheesiness, that kind of ‘beautiful dress with a dagger in her cleavage’ feel to it?

There are some interesting world-building elements that I’ll touch on before I let you go off and read this (or not, that’s your call). I mentioned that Mortain is an old God but is also a Saint? Well, that’s because one of the things this book touches on is that tension between old Gods and monotheism. It was a great take on a classic theme and as it’s something I have a particular interest in, the way that the old Gods were absorbed into a new religion and how they hadn’t died out in certain circles.

I am aware that this book has been out for around six years, and that it is being promoted because of the Courting Darkness duology publishing in February next year, but since I somehow missed it when it published I thought you might be interested too. I think I will go on to read the rest of the series as it seems like a fun adventure.

My rating: 4/5 stars

I received a free digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

What say you? Have you read this series? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!


3 thoughts on “Grave Mercy, Robin LaFevers – Book Review

Add yours

  1. Wonderful review! I haven’t read this series either, but I’ve been looking for more assassin books after reading Nevernight and LOVING it. So this sounds perfect. “Beautiful dress with a dagger in her cleavage” is totally my aesthetic.

    Liked by 1 person

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