Friday, March 16, 2012

Grave Mercy (His fair Assassin #1) by R.L. LaFevers

GRAVE MERCY by R. L. LaFevers
Reviewed by: Baby Sister Brittany
ARC Received from: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt at ALA Midwinter
Release Date: 4/3/2012 (SOOOOO CLOSE)
The Sisters Say: Read, Reread, Repeat, Recommend to friends, Repeat!

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?

Bold Statement #1: GRAVE MERCY is the best spring release ARC I’ve read so far.

Bold Statement #2: And yes, I’ve read a lot of spring release ARCS, some really fantastic ones in fact.

Bold Statement #3: GRAVE MERCY is hands-down my favorite historically based novel that I’ve EVER read.

Bold Statement #4: R. L. LaFevers is amazing, and I’m so thankful she made the jump to YA. Middle Grade—we’re never giving her back!

Bold Statement #5: I’m sort of out of bold statements, but I really wanted there to be five, so PRE-ORDER GRAVE MERCY OR I’LL VIRTUALLY PUNCH YOU IN THE JUGULAR. That’s all. J

Seriously, guys, Grave Mercy blew me away. Then I spent several weeks after I read it only reading historical or high fantasy in an attempt to chase that wondrous high that this book gave me. And while some of those books were great as well—here’s looking at you, GILT—none of them quite lived up to the amazing-ness that was Grave Mercy.

GRAVE MERCY has it all—a fascinating historical period, vibrant and fascinating characters, a unique paranormal influence, and an addicting romance!

Let’s start w/ the historical period. I’m ashamed to say despite my name being Brittany, I knew absolutely nothing about Brittany’s struggles w/ the French! Most of the Historical Fiction I read is about the same periods that I’ve already read a dozen books about, so it was fantastic to read something fresh that felt just as unfamiliar and unpredictable as normal fiction! I mean, a twelve year old girl inherits the duchy of Brittany and then is betrothed several times over to various men (some twice her age) in an attempt to gain help defending Brittany against France’s intentions to take over the duchy. And ladies and gentleman… that’s really just a sub-plot of the book, but it will hook you with it’s twists and turns and betrayals!

And as if the historical period wasn’t fascinating enough, LaFevers uses Brittany’s pagan gods, in particular Mortain, the god of death, to weave a bit of a fantastical element into the tale. Mortain marks certain young women, in this case, Ismae as his hand-maidens. Ismae’s parents attempted to abort the pregnancy using  poison, but Ismae survived and forever bears the scars that mark her as a daughter of death. Upon the books opening, she’s saved from her tragic life and a horrifying arranged marriage and taken to a convent of St. Mortain. It is there that she is given a choice—return to her old life or be the hand of death on Earth—assassinating those he chooses, and becoming an instrument for his will and the will of the convent. She does this gladly, but in the end, her duty to her  god and her own desires will come face to face, and she must choose to serve her god or herself. AGH…. it’s so good. Just talking about it, I’m resisting the urge to dump my computer and go read it again!

And oh, the characters!  ISMAE is amazing. She’s tough as nails, and intelligent, and creative. She’s perhaps a little too confident and a little too rash at times, but that makes her all the more believable as a character. Duval is the illegitimate brother to Brittany’s duchy, and ISMAE’s assignment. The convent worries that he’s double-crossing his sister, and ISMAE has been given orders to spy on him, and kill him should the mark of Mortain ever appear on him. He’s got a hard exterior, has absolutely no interest in women or love, and appears to act only w/ his sister in mind.  If you love guys like Valek from the Poison Study Series or Brigan from Fire, you’ll love Duvall. But don’t love him too much, because he’s mine! There’s just something about that soldier persona—tough, sometimes rude, selfless, and handsome—that gets me every time! The relationship between Ismae and Duvall is slow-building, and at times seems utterly impossible. They’re both spying on each other, and neither trusts anyone, which heightens their romance even more!

 I could probably go on for ages, but so much of what is intruiging about this book are the little maneuvers and never knowing who is one who’s side—so I’d hate to give anything away! All I can say is that I absolutely ADORED this book, and can’t wait to have a finished copy in my hand! And lastly, don’t be afraid if historical is not your thing!  I’ve read a lot of historical fiction, but it’s never really been a favorite genre of mine… I’ve always felt a little indifferent to it, but I am so thankful I put that aside to read this book, because it rocked my world!

What are you waiting for???? GO PRE-ORDER IT NOW!            

If you don’t… I’m just saying… you don’t want to run into one of death’s handmaidens.  They are some scary chicas.