Book Review: Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1) by R.L. LaFevers

9565548Title: Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1)
Author: R.L. LaFevers
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, YA
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: April 3rd 2012
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Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange of honest review.

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.

Ismae works for the Saint of Death, St. Mortain. After being rescued by a priest from an abusive man, she’s send to a monestary to train as an assassin. Ismae is marked by Death itself, a sign she’ll be a powerful assassin. She trains with the other nuns at the convent, and slowly gains their trust. Eventually she’s send on a mission. After she fulfills some missions successfully, the abess sends her to court, where she poses as the mistress of Duval. But the more time she spends with Duval, the more she falls for him. I won’t give out any more plot points, because I don’t want to spoil them for you, but let me just sum up the rest of the book by saying ‘wow’.

Seriously. By now I thought I’d seen it all. I’d seen assassin, paranormal creatures, every possible thing YA literature could bring, and then came along Grave Mercy. I saw the cover, read the blurb, and knew I had to read this one. I started it one night and finished it the same night – at four thirty in the morning. I couldn’t stop myself from reading this book, that’s how kickass awesome it was. The writing was amazing, the characters superb, the setting atmospheric and fitting. Some people mentioned in this book were famous historical figures, and I liked the author’s personal spin on their life stories.

Ismae is an intriguing character to read about. Because of her early life, she’s distant and wary when it comes to men. I liked how Duval, with his witty sarcasm and intelligent responses and insight could break through her defensive walls, and how all of that happened slowly, over the course of time. It was much more believable than if it would’ve happened in say, the first hundred pages. Ismae’s background story, and the plot of Grave Mercy were both original and touching, the events unfolding at a rapid pace. Great care and attention for detail went into creating this work, and it’s obvious.

The author’s writing style is perhaps the most amazing quality of this book. It sucks you right in, and leaves you breathless. It’s without a doubt the most breathtaking writing style I’ve come across all year, and that’s saying something. I’m officially jealous.

Grave Mercy needs a spot in your personal library. Else it simply won’t be complete.


  1. This book was outstanding. There’s not a single thing i didn’t love about this book. It’s everything you hope a historical-fantasy novel will be and is one of the most exciting books I’ve read in a while.

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