Grave Mercy-- Robin LaFevers

Release Date: April 3rd, 2012
Genre:  Political Intrigue, Romance, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Pages: 549
Amazon Link*: Click here
Goodreads Page: Click here
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?
Blurb: An adult book in YA clothing. Disappointing.

Review: I'm afraid to say I didn't like this book. I posted the following review on Amazon, and (as Amazonites are wont to do) have recieved some... interesting criticisms. But I'm going to post the same review here and y'all can judge for yourself.

Okay, I stayed up late to finish this just because I wanted to write down my thoughts while they were still fresh. To keep it fairly simple, I'm just going to make a list of why I gave this book 2.5 flowers:

1. This does not read like a typical YA book. This reads like an adult book with a MC who is 17. But because it takes place in medieval France, she is a MEDIEVAL 17, which feels more like 30. There's a LOT of talk of sex, harlots, abusive men, etc. And the book culminates in a sexual act. Plus, it just reads like an adult book.

2. SO. MUCH. POLITICS. Here I was thinking I was going to read a book about a kick-butt female assassin, and what I got was about 400 pages of trying to remember which barons were the good guys and who were the bad guys. Listening to councils jibber jabber about who the 12-year-old duchess should marry, blah blah blah. All the while our assassin friend wasn't doing very much assassin-ing.

3. Ismae was a little flip-floppy. This may just be because I'm a love-skeptic, but she's spent her WHOLE LIFE fearing men and thinking that all men are evil, and after just a few weeks being SURROUNDED by men (many of which want to rape her) she falls in love with more than one. Granted, those she falls in love with (not all romantically) are really great men, but it just seemed a little strange that she would be so willing to become buddies with them. I'm not really a "feminist" but I do like characters to stand strong in their beliefs, or at least give me REALLY good reasons why their beliefs change (Sidenote: this was demonstrated very well in this book's religious beliefs. I loved Ismae's internal struggles with right and wrong.).

4. The world confused me. I personally don't like it when books have just enough stuff that is real that I can't tell what's fake. I'm not an expert on medieval France, so I didn't know which parts of this book were coming out of LaFevers' brain, and which parts were real. This is a minor thing, but still bugged me.

#3 and #4 are more secondary concerns. They were at the back of my mind as a read, but not huge factors. What was HUGE was #1 and #2. #1 made me dislike the book just because there is a REASON I dislike adult books. I read YA on purpose. And #2 bothered me because it made the story SO SLOW. And I've never been interested in political intrigue books. The only time that kind of thing has been able to keep me interested is in books like the Attolia books (and those are a lot shorter and less dense than Grave Mercy, and the characters were more interesting) and the Trickster's Choice series (which has a LOT more going on than just political intrigue, even though PI is the main plot).

I really WANTED to like this book, but I just couldn't. I wish I had read it with lower expectations, then I probably wouldn't have been so dissatisfied.

Other Reviews:

All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2012

*I am an amazon affiliate. If you purchase this book using my link, I will get a tiny fraction of the purchase, which goes toward contests.


  1. Thanks for the review. I've heard lots of good things about Grave Mercy, but I wasn't sure it was the kind of book I'd enjoy and after that review, I have a feeling I won't be picking it up anytime soon. You've pointed out all the main things that make me dislike a book. I might still give it a try one day, but for now I'm happy sticking with my light and fluffy YA novels!

  2. I was actually waiting for your review to come up here. Wow, this book is a brick! I didn't know it was 500+ pages. That alone makes me hesitate in picking this one up. Hrmm... of course, I'd still give this a fair go. Sorry you didn't like it. The lack of assassining doesn't sound so good. Hopefully the next book? Will you be reading on?

  3. I really did love this book. I love political drama (only in historical fiction though, not in modern-day), and this book definitely did it for me. I'm sorry that you didn't like it though!!

  4. Thanks for your honest review. Your #1 is the main reason why I stop reading some books too. It's just not worth my time when there are so many other 'clean' books to read.

  5. All the while our assassin friend wasn't doing very much assassin-ing. I agree with this! Once she got to court, she didn't really do much and it was frustrating how naive she was. I've seen the adult book dressed up as YA complaint before and I think it's valid. I really wanted to like this book too!

  6. I liked this book, but I totally agree with the assassin not doing very much assassin-ing LOL :) That was so true.


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