Wednesday, April 18, 2012

[NetGalley Review]: "Grave Mercy"

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children (April 3, 2012)
Series: His Fair Assassin, 1
Genre: YA Fantasy
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?

Where to Buy*:
More Info:

My Review:
For a YA fantasy novel, Grave Mercy is actually quite good, though not perfect. I liked the story and will definitely be looking for future books by this author.

I especially liked the storyline for this novel. It was a very promising one, and I found it quite interesting. There was a bit lacking from it though, with a few bumps along the way, but I am glad that I had a chance to read this book. I think it had great potential, and I have high hopes for the next book in the series.

Perhaps the greatest fault I found in this book lies in the characters. None of them seemed very real to me. But it wasn't just their lack of depth that annoyed me. Oh no. The thing that I disliked the most were the parts of their characters that we actually saw!

For example: Anne, the young duchess, holds Brittany in the palm of her hand—all at the ripe old age of 12. Yes, 12. This annoyed me to no end, and made me want to throw the book against the wall on many occasions. Despite the fact that this character was based on a real historical figure, it just was not very realistic. She was described one way (twelve-years-old, young, small, etc) and yet portrayed another, so that at times I had her firmly pictured in my mind as a 20-30 year old woman on the throne. It's not like she was that mature beyond her years, but rather the image came from some inconsistencies with her character.

I realize, of course, that through the course of our world's history, many a kingdoms have had a young monarch on the throne. But there is always a representative, a guardian to help the child. In Grave Mercy's fantasy world, the high ranking men take the threat of invasion and war to this pre-teen who probably has yet to reach puberty—and they want her married right away! I've met some wise-beyond-their-years children before—but never a young girl like this who runs a country, avoids an old man's lecherous hands and tries to figure out who has betrayed her. Even in a fantasy world, it is a bit much for me to swallow. This simply rubbed me the wrong way, and made it hard for me to thoroughly enjoy the book.

Even Ismae's character had some age issues for me. She was supposed to be 17, killing people and seducing men for their secrets, but she acted too much like a young, naive girl at times. And her love interest, Duval, is almost a decade older than her, which also gave me pause. Their love was a bit more believable though, as it was a slow build up.

I think if the ages of the characters had been different, the writing done with a bit more depth when it came to the characters, I may have gave this book a much higher rating. It was good, but it had some more potential that it never quite reached.

3.5 STARS! A story full of new twists, plenty of political intrigue and a compelling fantasy world, Grave Mercy is a good choice if you want something different from the YA genre. And while I had problems connecting with the characters, I am still intrigued enough by the story premise to return to this world when the next book comes out. I wonder what Sybella's story will bring! Dark and captivating, Grave Mercy does a wonderful job at setting up this new fantasy series!

I received this e-book from NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.


Until Next Time,
*TBQ's Book Palace is a member of both the Amazon and Barnes and Nobles affiliates program. By using the links provided to buy products from either website, I receive a very small percentage of the order. To read my full disclosure on the matter, please see this post!


Kristin (Book Sniffers Anonymous) said...

I felt the same way about this book. A lot of people loved this book but I had a few issues with it. I kept picturing Anne (like you said) as a 30 yr old. Even though I knew she was supposed to be really young she was written in such a way that no matter how many times I reminded myself of her age I kept picturing someone 3x her age.

The_Book_Queen said...

I am glad to know I am not the only one who gave it a less than perfect rating! :)

The age was truly a problem for me, and it made everything else in the story suffer. I wouldn't have had a problem with her real age if the author had written her in such a way that she actually seemed like the 12 year old she was suppose to be--but instead she came across, like you said, as a 30 year old in my mind.

Still, I am interested in the other books in this series, I'd like to see how their stories work out. :)

Thanks for stopping by--Enjoy!