Book Review – Grave Mercy

“One heart cannot serve two masters.” 

Title: Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1)

Author: Robin LaFevers

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Publication date: April 3rd, 2012

576 pages

Goodreads Synopsis

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?

Review

“I stare at him coldly. “I do not care for needlework.” I pause. “Unless it involves the base of the skull.”

robin lafevers, grave mercy

Another day, another review for a book with a young, female assassin! Whereas Grave Mercy has a similar main character to Throne of Glass, that’s pretty much the only similarity these two books have! But, I do still enjoy a good, female assassin!

Grave Mercy is the first in a trilogy following the lady assassins of St. Mortain, the god of Death. Set in the 1400’s in Brittany, Europe, Grave Mercy is a historical fantasy where the gods grant certain powers, abilities, and duties to those sworn to them. Ismae, our MC, hsa a horrendous childhood as she was marked at birth and seen as cursed. Her birthmark is really proof that St. Mortain saved her when her mother tried to abort her. Ismae was sold to a terrible husband, but quickly saved to go study to be an assassin for the god. The story jumps and Ismae is thrust into the political environment of Brittany as they try to stave off the French, and she is instructed to protect the young duchess ruling all of Brittany.

I have many thoughts on this book. First off, I don’t generally like historical fiction/fantasy that much, but this book reads more like fantasy than historical – so much so that I didn’t realize it was really based off real events until I read the afterword! It feels like a fresh, new world & the powers and abilities of the assassins of St. Mortain are interesting.

In terms of the actual assassinating, Ismae is good at what she does – but she isn’t written as all powerful like Celaena from Throne of Glass. She isn’t unstoppable, she’s methodical and take pride in her work, but not necessarily enjoyment. As a character, Ismae did not thrill me. I loved her budding romance with *redacted* but I found her character to be more boring than the other characters. There were chunks of the book I enjoyed her more in than others, so it was really a roller coaster experience for me.

The writing is superb, the world-building is phenomenal, and the political intrigue is top notch. I enjoyed these elements of Grave Mercy immensely, and definitely plan on continuing to read this series to see how the story goes with the Duchess and Brittany. The villain was also suitable evil and hateable, which I always enjoy!

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – By the Book

Title: By the Book

Author: Amanda Sellet

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Publication date: May 12th, 2020

384 pages

3.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

As a devotee of classic novels, Mary Porter-Malcolm knows all about Mistakes That Have Been Made, especially by impressionable young women. So when a girl at her new high school nearly succumbs to the wiles of a notorious cad, Mary starts compiling the Scoundrel Survival Guide, a rundown of literary types to be avoided at all costs.

Unfortunately, Mary is better at dishing out advice than taking it—and the number one bad boy on her list is terribly debonair. As her best intentions go up in flames, Mary discovers life doesn’t follow the same rules as fiction. If she wants a happy ending IRL, she’ll have to write it herself.

Review

**Thank you to HMH Books for Young Readers, Netgalley, and Amanda Sellet for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

By the Book is a Young Adult Contemporary read that follows Mary, a sophomore just starting at a new high school. She had been going to school in a small, experimental school so she has no experience with “typical” high school life, and at this point has no friends. She’s the second youngest out of 5 children, and she knows everything there is to know about classic literature. Mary is timid and quiet, but can have some sass to her. She meets a group of girls to befriend, and they start classifying the guys in their schools as some of the villains in European literature, but no one is worse than Alex Ritter. He is a senior and a huge player who will hit on any girls around…. or is he?

The story line is sweet and has a fun group of friends. It’s also interesting to see the family dynamic with 5 kids who are all literature and theater inclined. The love story is sweet, a kind of enemies to lovers in a PG rated way.
I loved the LGBTQIA aspects and the nod given to other characters who aren’t hetero.

Frankly, Mary is my least favorite character in the book. I just think she came across as very flat, whereas other characters were given a lot of dimension. There was mention of her feeling slighted and ignored in a huge family, but there was never anything done or said about it. I wanted her to have more life in the book than she did.

Overall, I felt this book was sweet but could have gone deeper with the MC.