Bookshelves: Young Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy, Historical, Mystery, Suspense, Romance
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.
Disclaimer: I'd like to thank netgalley for providing me with a digital copy and no compensation was made for this review.
This was my first novel by this author, will definitely read more.I knew just by looking at the cover of grave mercy that I'd like it. Reading through the first page, I was sure I'd hate the book and that it'll turn out to be something like Halo or such paranormal.
I'm glad I decided to stick with reading and as the pages progressed, I was fully engrossed in the plot. I initially had a little troubling grasping the plot, I was totally unprepared for the Nine different Saints and churches devoted to their praying but once Ismae enters the convent things became a lot clearer. It was refreshing to read about some other paranormal fantasy that did not involve vampires, werewolves, angels and demons.
The story centers around Ismae, our brave, young and fierce assassin, the handmaiden of Death itself. Ever since her birth, she knew something was different about her. Of course it didn't come as a surprise, since she survived an attempt of abortion her mother tried [which left her horribly marked]. All through her life, she had to endure the bullying, the fear, the ostracism by society, even her family.
She's constantly beaten and abused and eventually sold to a rutting pig. Luckily, she manages to escape on her wedding night and that is how she arrives at the abbey. She's broken, but not in spirit and she finds much solace with the sisters. She learns about their preaching and why she's different. It feels like all her questions have been answered. Or have they? I can't help but feel some thick under-plot behind the Abbess's steady gaze and serene face.
Soon, Ismae has fully embraced the life of the convent and is quite ready for her first assignment. Her second however lands her right in the middle of all things chaotic. Not only is her cover blown by this annoying Gavriel who claims to be the royal advisor, she's also forced to act out a deception she's highly unwilling to. Posing as the mistress of Gavriel .
Given her past experience with men, one can relate to her unease and wariness. Gavriel however surprises her, he's not like other men she's known. Though unwilling at first, she befriends him, and comes to trust him. But is this charade turning into something else entirely? Is she seducing Gavriel to find out the traitor at court or is she doing it because she wants him? As the plot thickens, so does Ismae's confusion.
The medieval setting for the plot was perfect. I enjoyed the bold idea of deceptive innocence, the sinful seduction before dispatching off their victims. There's the Royal Court, ballrooms, gowns, medieval weapons, monarchy, war, feud between families, poison, political undermining, treachery and betrayal. It offers something for everyone and it was a real treat for me specially to find all these things that I like reading about packed in one novel.
Gavriel was a wonderful character and I was rooting for Ismae and Gavriel to end up together from the start! Though I tarried a bit when his handsome friend De Lornay. He and Beast were among my favorite characters along with Anne and Annith.
I give it 4 and 1/2 ♥