Friday, April 6, 2012


Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1) by R.L. LaFevers is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and will be available in all its FANTASTICAL 549 pages on April 3, 2012.

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? [Goodreads]


When I first received Grave Mercy by R. L. LaFevers my first thought was, wow, this is almost 550 pages! What could possibly transpire in that amount of pages other then lots and lots of fluff? I was Dead Wrong! There absolutely isn’t any fluff pages to pad, this is a story that I thought would take me days to finish which in fact only took me two days because the story is so intriguing and full of mystery, conspiracy, romance and heart break; this is just the beginning of what I found in Grave Mercy, my cup over runneth with emotions and delight!

Yes, Grave Mercy is a historical novel, some might even say a Romance Historical Novel but it isn’t really just that, it’s so very much more. It has pagan Gods and Goddesses that each person swears to honor. To go back on the God that you’ve chosen is to break a vow and also seen by peers as a lack of character and they are often out casted from society.

The main character, Ismae is left with her exceedingly cruel father after her mother leaves them. He only knows how to talk by insults and with his fists. One day he brought a disgustingly fat sweaty pig farmer who gave him 3 silver coins to marry Ismae. On the eve of their wedding he sees she has a scar on her back from when her mother tried to ‘cast her from her womb’ using the old hedgewitch’s method only Ismae was born despite that and her fathers wicked treatment of her mother when she was pregnant. The only sign she bore from the botched abortion was a scar that ran the length of her back. When the dirty grimy pig farmer started to have his way with her, he started to beat her claiming he was taken for a fool because of the scar, she is miraculously saved by the hedgewitch and others and shipped to the Sisterhood of St. Mortain, there she is told that she is, indeed, the daughter of the God of Death, Mortain.

It is there, at age 14, that she embraces this new life, the life of an assassin and excels beautifully especially with poisons-she has an affinity for them and is immune to them all which makes her an excellent student in the study of poisons, how to make them, how to administer them and the best way they can be disguised. She wears long coiled bracelet’s that can be used as a garrote, can apply poison to her lips to ensure a man’s last kiss and even take classes in Feminine Arts. Finally, Ismae doesn’t ever have to worry that a man will ever harm her again; they should be on the look-out for her, though. Ismae is fast friends with Sybella and Annith, the first friends she’s ever had and the way that Ms. LaFevers developed Ismae from the sad broken young girl to the mischievous fun yet serious girl is so subtle but I found myself being so happy for her. Ismae knows that Mortain will soon call upon her to do his will and she knows she will do whatever it takes to make both Mortain and the sisters she so loves proud.

When Ismae is finally sent on her mission at 17, she is sent to court to protect the Duchess, who is 13 yet already incredibly wise for her years, she is to watch everyone within the Duchess’s inner sanctum and those around the court. Mortain has given his daughters the sight whether in dreams or whether the person bears the mark of Mortain [a black shadow that shows where and how Mortain wants his daughters to kill those that are treasonous, dangerous, thieves, killers, etc…] Ismae meets Duvall and they do the dance of unspoken passion and distrust when they each really only have each other to care for the Duchess’s well being.

What ensues from there is political intrigue but not the boring kind! Romance, Mortain’s Mark, Murder, Disloyalty from the least likely people, Thrills and Chills and to repeat myself-so very much more!

Grave Mercy is an amazing book with narrative that flows so beautifully and just right. I never lost interest in the plight of Ismae. Ms LaFevers character descriptions are out of this world! Every word, every nuance, every gesture means something about the character in Grave Mercy. This is a Mystical world that I have every intention of visiting again! The next in the series can’t come soon enough for me but I will read Grave Mercy again before it does!


Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to view Grave Mercy in exchange for my honest opinion.


  1. I enjoyed this one so much too! I don't hardly ever see historical fantasy for YA and I thought it was so well done. I didn't even know it was over 500 pgs since I read it on my kindle and I didn't check. LOL

    I really want to read that next one. I think it's on Saybella.

  2. Wow! thanks for the review. So great!
    I wasn't sure if I wanna read this one, but now, I think someday I will.

  3. I do not know, I heard some comlplaints and knew at once that they were things I would not like (the romance bits)

  4. I don't like to read about politics and things like that, but in this book for some reason I didn't mind it, in fact I loved to hear all those details and try to find out who was the 'bad guy'.