Originally reviewed at Christa's Hooked on Books
I love a good historical ficition novel and I will climb mountains for an enchanting fantasy novel, so when they expertely combine into the unique genre of historical-fantasy, as is the case with Grave Mercy, I couldn't be happier.
Grave Mercy is based on a thrilling and bizarrely unique premise. Assassin nuns. Who has ever heard of such a thing? But it works and it works well. Dedicated to the (fictional) St Mortain - the covenant acts as the messengers of death, stealing out into the night to finish off their next victims. It hooked me right from the beginning. I kind of wish a little more time was spent on their training. They have all these classes involving weaponry, poison, "womanly arts" etc. I wanted more time to learn what they learn. Maybe I'm a little bit morbid...
The reader follows this crazy story through the perspective of Ismae. Now this is one kick ass heroine. And I mean literally. She knows ten different ways to kill you before you even have time to blink. I like a girl who can fend for herself. She has to face a number of difficult decisions and for the most part she stays remarkably level headed. It's something to admire.
There's also a romance of a star-crossed lover variety. An assassin and the man she is sent to spy on. What's particularly nice about this romance was that it wasn't shoved down your throat. I hate when you're reading a really good YA fantasy/dystopia/sci-fi etc and then the romance takes over the entire story. The romance here is gradually developed and slow burning in the background. It doesn't distract from the much more serious matters at play.
Finally I have a little tiny design critique (which is not at all a reflection on the writing). This book is a brick! It's 549 pages. Which would be fine except that the margins were ridiculously wide and the spacing between lines was huge. This means that this book was made to look a whole lot longer than it actually was. I'm not sure why they went this route as it made the book bulky, heavy and difficult to hold. A poor design choice.
Final recommendations: An amazing book that can be enjoyed by fantasy fans, historical fiction fans or anyone looking for a really well crafted story. I also think this is a great book for both YA and adult readers.