My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Grave Mercy was a slow starter, but once it got going, I couldn’t put it down.
The thing is, all of the things in the beginning that made the book feel slow are important to understanding the main character, Ismae. We have to understand what led her to the convent and why she feels the way she does about men in order to truly appreciate her mindset and her transformation over the course of the book. The best characters are the ones who go on some sort of emotional journey, and Ismae definitely did, going from being a vengeful handmaiden of Mortain to realizing there was good and bad in everyone, and she couldn’t assume everyone was the same just because of some less than positive experiences in her childhood.
Speaking of characters, I have the hugest crush on Gavriel. I loved how different he was from Ismae’s father and not-quite-husband, but I also loved how LaFevers didn’t beat us over the head with this fact – he was a character in his own right, not just “the one that changes everything” (which is one of my pet peeves, so I was on the lookout for this!). Also, I loved watching his and Ismae’s relationship develop throughout the book without either of them even realizing it. Their banter was one of my favorite parts of the book!
Finally, I loved the political aspect of Grave Mercy. I’m really into any and all court intrigue, so watching everyone at the Breton court maneuvering around each other – as well as around France – was super interesting to me. Also, Brittany is a region I’ve more or less ignored in my medieval history obsession, so it was cool to read something that wasn’t set in England or Italy!
If none of this has sold you on Grave Mercy, I’m going to whip out the trump card: assassin nuns. While this description sounded so awesome it made me give the book a try, everything else is so much more awesome than that.