Google+ Reading Teen: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers: Book & Audiobook Review

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers: Book & Audiobook Review

Grave Mercy
by Robin LaFevers
Series: His Fair Assassin Book #1
Reading level: Ages 14 and up
Hardcover: 560 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children; 1 edition (April 3, 2012)
Buy the book: Amazon

Publisher:  Recorded Books
Grave Mercy: His Fair Assassin, Book 1
By Robin LaFevers
Narrated by Erin Moon
Length:14 hrs and 14 mins
Buy the Audio:  Audible
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?
At a glance:

Fans of The Seven Kingdoms, The Seven Realms, The Poison Study Series, as well as historical fiction lovers, will eat Grave Mercy up! Historical Fiction that feels like High Fantasy? This book has earned it’s place among my favorite books of all time.

The Audio:

I was so excited to get this book on audio.  I've been anxiously waiting for it for ages, and was thrilled that Recorded Books had published it.  I had no doubt they would pick a fantastic reader and do an amazing job.  I immediately liked the narrator, Erin Moon.  Her voice is kind of low and a little raspy, which I like.  She kind of reminded me of Carol Monda, who is my favorite female reader.  She did great with distinguishing voices, and male voices, and even threw in a few creepy sounding voices as well.  The only minor disappointment for me was that, since this book is supposed to take place in history, in Europe (France/Brittany), I would have liked the reader to have more of an accent.  Honestly, even a British accent would have added a little bit of the European, historical flair.  However, it's hard to be too concerned with that when the reader was so good, and the story was so fantastic.  If you're looking for a new audiobook, or debating between audio or hardcover, I highly, highly recommend this audio.  This is one of those audiobooks that I'll be listening to over and over again! You can listen to a sample here!

Is this book High Fantasy or what?

When I first heard about Grave Mercy, I thought that it was high fantasy. I absolutely love high fantasy, so I was really excited about it. However, as I started reading, I began to realize that these were actual events and people that were being talked about. So, of course, I googled everyone, and discovered that, much of the book is based on historical events and actual people. However, even though it is technically historical fantasy, it still had the same feel to it as many of my favorite high fantasy books. There was even a map! :P

The Heroine:

Well, I’ll start out by saying that we gave away a copy of this book for our “Kick-butt Characters Giveaway” so that should tell you something. Ismae was freakin’ tough! I loved her! She was strong, smart, fierce, brave, selfless, and loyal. She had a hard life growing up, so she was a hard person to befriend, but once she trusted you, she would do anything for you. She actually reminded me a lot of Katsa from Graceling. Something I really appreciated about her was her personal character development. She grew and changed a lot during this book, and that’s something I love. She’ll be on my favorite kick-butt heroines list from now on!  I mean, she's an assassin nun!

The Romance:

FAVORITE, FAVORITE, FAVORITE!!! This is absolutely my favorite type of romance to read. I mean, yes, we all know that Duval and Ismae are going to end up falling for each other, but it is so awesome to watch it slowly happen. I love it when characters start out with suspicion, and trust issues with each other, and have to work to overcome their prejudices over time. It just adds so much tension, frustration, and eventually satisfaction to a romance. I just couldn’t ask for more! It was almost like taking Katsa from Graceling and Brigan from Fire and watching them fall for each other.  Who needs a love triangle when there’s this much tension?!

Will You Like It?

I have to say; there are some that this book won’t appeal to.  I thought it was pretty mature for YA, so those looking for a quick or light read won’t find it here. There are also some religious happenings that some might be uncomfortable with, which I’ll add more about in the content review. That being said, if you like high fantasy, historical fiction, court intrigue, fighting, romance, suspense, mystery, and intensity that keeps you holding your breath until the last page, I think you’ll love this book. When I finished reading it, I just sat there and sighed and wanted to start reading it again!  So, I'd say that if you like this type of book at all, you will definitely love this book.  If you've never tried historical fiction, or high fantasy, you should give this one a shot.  I seriously loved this book so much!  If you still aren't sure, you can check out the first chapter here!

What about a Cliffhanger?

YAY for zero cliffhanger!  Grave Mercy may be a part of a series, but it could definitely still stand alone.  It has a complete storyline that concludes at the end of this book.  Book two sounds like it might be more of a companion, keeping with the overall storyline, but focusing on a different character.  This makes me so happy, and I can't wait to read about the character in the next book!!

Will I buy it?

YES!  I just got an email from Amazon saying it's on the way!!  I can't wait until it gets here because it's going to get one of my coveted book shadow-box spots!  Yeah, I loved it that much!  I already gave the ARC to my mom so she can read it too!

Book Doppelgangers: (I've already metioned these above, but I'll list them here anyway)

The Seven Kingdoms Series (Graceling/Fire/Bitterblue) by Kristen Cashore, The Seven Realms Series (The Demon King etc) by Cinda Williams-Chima, Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
  • Profanity: Mild
  • Sexual Content: Heavy
  • Violence: Heavy
  • Other Notables: Assassin Nuns sent by the god of Death to kill people.  Religious tones.
For more details, check out Grave Mercy on


  1. This book was freaking amazing! I loved everything about it. I wish book 2 would be out sooner. :(

  2. I loved this one too. I did not think about it at the time I was reading it, but you're right, it does have a high fantasy feel with the whole God of Death and assassin nuns bit.

    Thanks for sharing your review!

    1. On twitter everyone was saying it was high fantasy, so I was a little confused when I started reading it. But not disappointed at all. It was so awesome!

    2. I agree that it feels similar to high fantasy. It also reminded me of Game of Thrones a bit.

    3. Oh, I keep wanting to read that series!! I think I'm going to try to grab it on audio!

  3. Great review, Andye. I loved this one and I couldn't agree with you more about the romantic tension. I freaking loved Ismae and Duval together. I'm kind of sad that the second book won't be about them but I am also really excited to read about the other character in the next book.

    1. Hopefully they will appear as side characters! I love them, but I'm looking forward to learning more about the other characters.

    2. Yeah, that's what I'm thinking, surely Ismae and Duval will still be part of the story.

  4. I'm reading it now and I am enjoying it, though all of the history has me a bit confused. I may google some stuff so I am a little clearer on it and I think it will help me enjoy the book more. I love the overall storyline though and Ismae is super awesome!! Great review.

    1. Be careful what you google, it may give some stuff away! :P

      She also made a list of all the characters in the front of the book, did you see that?

      I hope you love it!

  5. Thanks for the review, I honestly wouldn't have given this book a second glance because of the cover (I'm a designer I can't help it) but now I'll pick it up for sure.

  6. I've got an ARC of this sitting on my shelves, for a really long time now! I've been hearing lots of different things about it, but I'm glad that you liked it! I didn't know it was based off of real events, that's so cool! I'm going to be moving this up in my pile. Thank you for the review!

    -Aneeqah @ My Not So Real Life

  7. Did you just say Katsa from Graceling and Brigan from Fire??? What are you trying to do to me?!??!!??!!!!!!
    I was already excited from reading it's for those of us who enjoyed The Seven Kingdoms and Poison Study series, but then you had to put that sentence in about Katsa and Brigan :O
    Have ordered it! Watch this space, will come back as soon as I've read it!

    1. READ IT READ IT READ IT!! AHH now I'm nervous!! I hope you love it. What will I do if you don't! Eek!

    2. I READ IT!
      I LOVED IT! :D

      Your review pretty much covers everything I would want to say about the book. My head was kind of exploding because Ismae seemed to be a mix of Katsa and Yelena and Duval seemed to be a mix of Valek and Brigan!! I'm not complaining but you could see why my head was going nuts.
      I loved the romance between these two characters, it didn't seem to take too long nor was it too soon. You could see why she (and me and you and everyone else) was falling in love with Duval. The journey of how they were both learning to trust each other is one I love to see with all couples.

      The story was... deep. It's great that there were characters to remind us of what was happening because sometimes I lost count of who was against who in this battle.
      I loved the battle inside Ismae, it reminded me of Fire when she said "What am I for?". All of these amazing heroines believe themselves to be one thing, have one meaning, except as time goes by they change and start questioning who and what they are. Ismae's confusion over her destiny was what made me REALLY love her.

      Great book! I don't think I could read it over and over again like I do with Graceling but it is still special. Although I haven't heard anything about the next book I'm glad this one ended without a cliff-hanger :D

    3. I'm SO EXCITED that you loved it too!! YAY! I was nervous. haha!! At the back of my ARC it said that book two would be about Sybella, so I'm guessing we'll see Ismae and Duval, but maybe not much since Sybella is in a different area. I guess she'll still be working to protect the queen, though, so we'll probably still be following that story. It's made me interested to check out other books by this author, she is fantastic!

    4. Ooooh! Next book's on Sybella?! :D I'm excited!!
      Aren't all her other books for children?

    5. idea.....maybe they're awesome children's books? :P

  8. I really did enjoy this story. I loved that the heroine was so tough and yet there was a softer side to her as the book went on. The fantasy elements were great and I loved reading about the court. I always enjoy books where the court is part of the story, it just adds so much drama!

    If you are looking for other great historical fantasy books you should try Tamora Pierce's Tortall series. It is made up of smaller series that are all of the world of Tortall. The first book in the first series is Alana: The First Adventure. If you are interesting in the reading order just email or tweet me and I can send you the order to read the series in. :)

    Thanks for the great review.

    1. I've been WANTING to read Tamora Pierce, but just can't ever seem to make it happen. I actually checked out an audio from the library, but I had the wrong one, so thanks for telling me which one to get. I keep hearing Tamora Pierce, Tamora Pierce, so I know I should just do it!

      I'm so glad you loved Grave Mercy too!! YAY!

  9. I loved this novel. Even though it was longer than most YA novels it breezed by for me. I wasn't bothered by anything in it. I did look up the people in the book after I read the novel and really felt sorry for the Duchess and her short life. But this was a fabulous novel and I can't wait for the next in the series! Terrific breakdown in your review!


    1. Yay! So glad so many people love it as much as I did! Agree about the poor Duchess! It's crazy to think about what went on back then.

      I'm SO excited for the next one. Can't wait!

  10. I really want to read this. I tried to get an ARC through Shelf Awareness but the e-mail never worked. It sounds like a great story. Thanks for the review.

    1. You're welcome! You should definitely get your hands on this book any way you can! It's fantastic!!

  11. I simply could not put it down. I liked it so much I bought the next book in the series!
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