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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?"
Read what Tanja thought about Grave Mercy here.
Don't you love when by some weird luck you discover a book that manages to surprise you? And it is not even kind of a book you would usually read? That is exactly what happened to me - first two books of His Fair Assassin trilogy were available on NetGalley, I saw both countless times on my friend's blogs or social network's profiles and I just couldn't miss an opportunity to read them myself.
The story. Young girl escapes from unwanted marriage just so she would become professional assassin trained by nuns. Seriously, how can you resist reading something with premise like this? It screams "girl power". But there is something that, in my opinion, skyrockets Grave Mercy into "epic-ness". Although, it is labeled as young adult, you have a feeling as if this book is "ageless". I didn't have usual issues when it comes to young adult fantasy. World building was believable which is a big deal considering that this is a historical fiction. Author herself points out that she had done extensive research and that many of characters are historical figures (including thirteen years old Anne). Fourteenth century is so different from our own time and being a child was a privilege not a basic human right and - as I used to remind my students in many occasions - back then, being teenager meant that you are adult with all responsibilities that come with that.
Characters. Ismae, Sybella, Annith, Anne and even those who are supposedly negative characters, are the most amazing women I fantasy I have read about. Strong and opinionated, with enough strength to fight for their believes and, at the same time, like any other human being flawed and tempered. Duval reminded me of Barrons from Fever series by Karen Marie Moning. Man who knows what he needs to do protect those he love, reluctant to let anyone in and, when he finally does, loyal and honest.
Saint Mortain. The most intriguing part of the story. I have so many things to say about this, but I won't because that would spoil Grave Mercy for you. I will just say that I was impressed how author put together ancient believes and character development giving us convent full of nuns and young girls who serve Death.
Happy reading,*Copy of this book was provided by publisher, HMH Books, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*