[review] Grave Mercy by R. L. LaFevers

Growing up Ismae was abused by her false father and then by the husband she was forced to marry, but no more. Isamae, daughter of Death, has escaped to the convent of St. Mortain where she is trained in her true father’s art. Now she must put her skills to the test while the fate of the country hangs in the balance.

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin, #1)Normally when I hear the words “historical fiction” I back away slowly with my fantasy novel serving as a shield, but when I heard about this book on the blogosphere and the words “assassin nuns” came up, I knew I would be reading this book and I knew that I would love it. I was correct on both accounts.

Awesome setting? Check. Fantastic female characters? A thousand checks. Swoon-worthy romance that doesn’t overshadow the protagonists personal growth, but actually compliments it? Check! I was totally impressed with the plot, setting, and characters of this book. It has a great feminist paranormal twist on the historical romance genre that I absolutely LOVED. I mean look at that cover. She is holding a cross bow.  A FREAKING CROSS BOW. That should tell you right there how awesome this book is going to be. CROSS BOW.

But as much as I ADORE this book, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t mention some of the down sides. Maybe I’m reading too much (HA!), but I could see the “twists” coming from a mile away. Also, I had a teensy issue with the fact that Issae is shown as a kind of virgin seductress. I think the author tried hard to make this as realistic and complex as possible, but I still couldn’t help but thinking how much that is totally how the ideal woman is portrayed in the media. She has to be sexy, but totally pure, right? (Dude, you can’t have your cake and eat it too, okay?) I guess all the female characters I read about can’t be in total control of their sexuality though, so I’ll try to let that one go.

Don’t just take my word for it!

“An amazing book that can be enjoyed by fantasy fans, historical fiction fans or anyone looking for a really well crafted story.” – Christa @ Hooked on Books

“Grave Mercy can be read as a standalone and it contained characters that I love, heat, passion, and yes, the kickass nuns that I totally daydream about.” – April @ Good Books and Good Wine

“Basically, I fell in love with Grave Mercy in every way possible.” – Jen @ Almost Grown-Up

“A cover that perfectly matches the contents of the book, characters whose heartbeats you can hear while reading and themes that will stun even fickle readers–Grave Mercy impresses on all counts.” – Angel @ Mermaid Visions

“If you’re looking for a really well-written historical fiction novel with a touch of fantasy and a smoldering romance, pick up Grave Mercy!” – Reut @ Reut Reads

Did I miss your review? Link me and I’ll add yours! Add me on goodreads (be sure to let me know in the comments that you’ve added me) to have your reviews linked automatically.

About megtao

Student. Writer. Nerdfighter. Fights for love, justice, and awesome.
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15 Responses to [review] Grave Mercy by R. L. LaFevers

  1. Brittany says:

    Yes. YES! I loved this book too!! I just finished maybe last week or so (Goodreads review is up and WP review to follow in a week or so). It was so great! I’m not a big historical fiction person, but this wasn’t a hard read at all. I fell into this world so easily and I loved the characters!

  2. Candice says:

    When I saw you had reviewed this one today my first thought was “OMG I NEED TO READ HER THOUGHTS ON THIS RIGHT NOW!!!” Because dude… totally thought this book was right up your alley. Even though it’s really historical fiction, it’s got just enough fantasy to make it like uber awesome. I did like your comment about the whole “virgin seductress” thing. However, I kind of liked this about Ismae and the assassin nuns (seriously, coolest thing ever); I didn’t see it so much as she was dressed up to be sexy virginal but that she was taught how to be seductive without sleeping around. I mean, granted in the whateverearly00s women were basically just around for pleasure and baby making (blah), but I kind of liked that the nuns knew how to get what they wanted from men by letting them think they could get what they wanted from them. Kind of like medieval manipulation. All that said, totally agree 100% with you on the sexy pure image in the media thing. Boo to that!

    • megtao says:

      But, what is the problem with sleeping around? And it wasn’t that the nuns were teaching them NOT to sleep around. They were in fact encouraged to do whatever they needed to do to get the job done. Some of them DID sleep around, so it was really just Ismae who had the virginal thing. And then her first time sleeping with someone was turned into this whole healing thing for some guy. Like…that’s weird. That kind of puts this huge emphasis on virginity, actually, which I really don’t think is a healthy message for girls. Like, there’s nothing wrong with virginity. I myself am a virgin, but I don’t think there should be the dichotomy of girl or slut. Especially since you never see this emphasis put on male virginity.

      I’m totally getting off topic XD XD I really did love this book XD

      • Candice says:

        Why you gotta make all these good points and make me think first thing in the morning? :)

        You’re right in that putting a huge emphasis on virginity isn’t a good message for girls to hear. I think the message should be one of waiting until you’re ready to have sex… whether that’s until marriage or until prom night. Giving girls the empowerment to decide when is right for them and helping them to understand what is right for them would be a much better message. As for sleeping around, I think it’s wrong when you’re doing it to find something (love, acceptance, etc.). That’s not healthy and chances are, you probably will never find what you’re looking for. If you’re just looking for a good time between the sheets and are mature/aware enough to deal with that, then I say go for it. Sleep around and enjoy. I don’t think those people should be considered “sluts” though.

        Also, Ismae sleeping with whatshisname” to help heal him WAS weird! It’s like “here, let me heal you with my magical vajayjay.” :)

    • megtao says:

      Full agreement from me. *snorts* magical vajayjay XD XD XD

  3. So glad to read your thoughts on this one, Meghan. I no longer rush out to get YA with pretty covers, even when they sound good – I’ve learnt to wait! I have an issue with the virgin seductress trope as well, but the positives you’re so enthusiastic on make me think this is one I’ll enjoy, despite that. Plus, assassin nuns? Yes please! Love me a fantasy novel featuring assassins. :D

    • megtao says:

      It’s really easy to see past the virgin seductress thing, and I think there is some complexity added to the character despite it. I definitely hope you’ll check it out!

  4. reutreads says:

    Interesting point that you make about virgin seductresses! Thanks for the link.

  5. Pingback: Top Ten Tuesday – August 21, 2012 | The Book Addict's Guide

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