Cannonball Read IV: Grave Mercy: His Fair Assassin by Robin LaFevers
Grave Mercy presents its readers with the question: Why be the sheep when you can be the wolf? Consider the sheep; it's a herd animal that spends its days doing what the shepherd tells it to, and it's constantly vulnerable to attacks from predators. The wolf is strong. It is a hunter, and it is a more successful hunter when it relies on itself. Hold on to this information, it will be reappearing later.
Ismae was sold into an arranged marriage by her abusive father. Her husband beat her on their wedding day, but then she was rescued. The Sisters of Mortain saved her because she is one of them. Ismae's mother tried to kill her before she was born, but she survived because she was the daughter of Death himself.
Now Ismae and other daughters if Mortain are trained to fight, charm, and kill. The Sisters hand out assignments, and the girls carry out the orders. Brittany is under attack by the French, and traitors to the Duchess are everywhere. Soon, she is sent on an assignment with the Duchess' bastard half brother, Duval. They have that instant intensely heated banter that makes you just know that they will be falling in love.
Throughout the book, Ismae shows complete faith in her convent. She blindly follows all orders, much as the sheep follows its shepherd. Eventually, little clouds of doubt spring up, and it all builds into a great big rain storm. Ismae had always been abused, hated for what she was. The convent was the greatest thing that had ever happened to her. She acted as the wolf, but in actuality was the sheep all along, until she started to think for herself.
So, come for the teenaged assassin nuns, stay for the 15th century political intrigue! It was refreshing how the book was aimed at a younger audience, but it didn't dumb down the historical or political plots. I love a strong female character, and I liked Ismae because she's a fighter. She survived her upbringing and her short marriage, and she learned to fight and kill. Duval is another young adult novel crush to add to my collection. He's gruff and harsh at first, but also very funny. I'm also excited because the sequel will be focusing on a different character (Sybella, a second nun who was off on some mysterious mission for most of this book). Even more amazing, this book is over 500 pages long and kept me absorbed through action scenes and political meetings, and political meetings that turned into action scenes. I started it expecting good things, and I was not disappointed. This book will surprise any anti-young adult readers.
For more of caitlin's reviews, check out her blog, I'm Going to Read Your Mind Next.
This review is part of Cannonball Read IV. Read all about it.