Heather's Reviews > Grave Mercy

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
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's review
Apr 04, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: teen, freaking-amazing-reads
Read in June, 2012

When Ismae was born, she was marked with a horrid red scar. Not a birthmark, but the result of the potion the hedgewitch had given her mother in an attempt to abort Isame’s birth. That it didn’t work was all the proof needed to convince everyone that Isame was the daughter of St. Mortain – Death himself. Not that this protected her much. True, her mother’s husband was too afraid of St. Mortain to kill Ismae outright, but he beat her, and did nothing to protect her from others. And when she was old enough, he sold her into marriage to a man who, upon seeing her scar on their wedding night, beat Ismae within an inch of her life and threw her in the root cellar. If not for the hedgepriest, who knows what might have happened to her. But the hedgepriest came for her and handed her off to a hedgewitch, who tended her wounds a bit before handing her off to the next believer of the old faith. And so Ismae was secreted across the land to a remote island and the convent of St. Mortain. The sisters have been watching Ismae, waiting to train her as an assassin for St. Mortain. It is her purpose in life to become one of Death’s Handmaidens.

This novel is not at all what I expected. After reading so much paranormal and supernatural literature I expected this novel to be steeped in more of the same. Instead this is a rich, layered historical fiction novel set in Brittany in the late 1400’s. The plot centers around political intrigue and espionage of the high court, and Ismae’s orders to protect Anne, the Duchess-to-be, from the machinations of those around her. Ismae’s orders come from the Chancellor and her Abbess, neither of which trust Duval, Anne’s half-brother. But Ismae’s heart tells her something different. The problem is figuring out who to trust in this world of lies and double crosses.

The characters in this tale are believable and very well-drawn. The intrigues are plausible and could easily have been arranged by a savvy politician instead of an author. I highly recommend this book to fans of romance (because Ismae finds herself unwillingly drawn to Duval), complex plots, and books that require your attention. You will be rewarded with a satisfying read – this is no mind candy.

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Quotes Heather Liked

R.L. LaFevers
“His divine spark lives within me, a presence that will never leave. And I am but one of many tools He has at His disposal. If I cannot act - if I refuse to act - that is a choice I am allowed to make. He has given me life, and all I must do to serve Him is to live. Fully and with my whole heart. With this knowledge comes a true understanding of all the gifts He has given me.”
R.L. LaFevers, Grave Mercy

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