Title: Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin # 1)
Author: R. L. LaFevers
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: 3rd April 2012
Format: E-Book - PDF
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Source: ARC from NetGalley
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? (Goodreads Synopsis)
I received this book via NetGalley and the premise interested me straight away. On the whole, I was not disappointed.
The book has a strong opening, introducing the reader to Ismae and her situation. I felt an instant liking for her and was keen to follow her tale as she began her service to St Mortain.
Despite being over 500 pages long, this did not feel like a long read and I found myself charging through it, eager to find out what would happen next. The pacing of the tale was good and the prose was readable and engaging.
I also thought the characterisation was well done. Ismae is nicely fleshed out and we see her grow through the story. Many minor characters are also well presented and memorable.
I did have some moments when I felt the 'hate-love' relationship between Ismae and Duval was pushed a little too much, but that is a minor gripe and I found their eventual attachment more believable than much of the 'insta-love' doing the rounds in books at the moment.
I would certainly be happy to read further books in this series and can recommend this first instalment to fans of historical fantasy.