Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: April 3rd 2012
My rating: 5 stars
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?
Grace Mercy was a unanimous winner in my end of blog poll, as the book that I needed to pick up next from my tbr pile and I am so glad that so many of you gave me the extra push to pick this book sooner rather than later, as grave Mercy was one of the best historical fiction books I have ever read.
The lovely Siiri I planned to read this book together and because of our busy schedules we decided to read 10 chapters a day; however none of us imagined that we’d be dying to read more chapters, once we’d finished off our assigned reading. LaFevers just wonderfully knew how to throw you head first into the story. We found ourselves with our MC Ismae who’s just been married, a marriage arranged by her father. On the first night things end up going the way Ismae knew they would, but she didn’t think that she would be whisked away to a covenant and made to become a formidable figure under St. Mortain of death. Ismae was trained up to assassinate anyone who bore the marque. On her assignment Ismae asked no questions, but just did what was acquired of her. But when Gavriel Duval turns up at the covenant demanding that they at least question their supposed targets before just killing them, this has Ismae questioning whether what she is doing is right. Also on top of this the covenant need a person on the inside to keep on top of the Duchess’ dire situation and who better than Ismae who will pretend to be Duval’s mistress.
I loved the situation that Ismae found herself, not only did she find herself questioning if she was doing the right thing, but she also found herself in an awkward position with Duval. He clearly didn’t like Ismae, but now he was stuck with her for the foreseeable future. Duval didn’t really give off the greatest impression, he came across as an enraged man who didn’t like people meddling in his business, but really did he expect Ismae to disregard what she was required to do? I loved how both were forced into this situation. (I always find book where two characters are forced in a situation or to work together the best, more so when the situation creates a lot of tension and swoony scenes between said characters and I had a feeling that we would be definitely getting a lot of this from these two characters).
I loved the slow tense build up between Ismae and Duval; they started off as two characters that completely didn't trust one another, to two characters who knew they had to trust each other in order to support the Duchess. I loved the banter that developed between Ismae and Duval and how in situations where Ismae was doing her job, Duval would just turn up glaring to drag Ismae away. At times it did seem Ismae was getting somewhere with her role she was playing, but I did like it when Ismae found herself in an awkward situation and Duval unexpectedly came to her aid (not that she needed helping) but I liked how he knew to be at the right place at the right time. And these abrupt turn ups did really give us an insight into the sort of character he was.
Duval really stole my heart in this book, not only was he loyal to his Duchess, he was intelligent, funny, and totally swoon worthy, I was told earlier about a few chapters which I would thoroughly enjoy and they were so worth it, but I think any scene which had Duval in it became a favourite. LaFevers also excelled in writing great characters other than Duval (I could probably talk about him for the rest of my review.) I adored Beast and De Lorrnay, I enjoyed the fun they had in their scenes (I really wished we had more of them). The same could be said of Sybella and Annith, both really shone in the little time we spent with them. And the rest of the characters from the young but brave Duchess to Abess all brought something different to the story. I truly admired the variety that LaFevers gave us.
I also hugely enjoyed the mystery aspect to this book; we had some nice build up of tension, as we didn’t know who we really could trust. There were some characters which had me raging and needing a couple of slaps, but time and time again loyalties to the Duchess were tested. And finally after I did discover who could be the biggest ever fraud, I was still floored as to why they had deceived us so much in the first place. So Grace Mercy was definitely a book which kept on my toes with its great mystery, will she/ won’t they moments and of course continual aspects of fear that something could go horribly wrong. LeFevers weaves elements of sabotage in to this story wonderfully alongside aspects of heart break. (highlight to view spoiler)