“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?”
I can think of no other word to begin with than this name: Angie. When she pronounces a book golden, get it. Take time to think about it, if you want, or scrawl the title down for later consideration, but when you finally read it – and you will – you’ll likely curse yourself for taking the long way ’round. Indeed, I had read her review of Grave Mercy, and I had picked the book up at least a half dozen times, but hip-deep in the thick of my not-reading malady, I kept putting it back down. Then, several weeks ago now, I saw the trade paperback sitting faced out on the book store’s shelf, as tempting as the thought of tracking down that gorgeous red gown and slipping it on (and finding a crossbow to firmly hold in hand) was. I bought the book. And I read it. Cue me cursing myself upon finishing it not two days later.
My initial progress through Grave Mercy was slow if steady. The poison workshop and armory on the grounds of the convent were wonderful, and I needed more of those details to induce in me a desire to stay with pleasure as a guest there for seventy pages. My visit was a begrudging one instead, thrown into sharp relief by the fact that Ismae left a chill in her wake as I turned the pages. It took a good while to warm to her (though I did, and how). In the beginning, then, it was the writing, the vibrancy of the setting and time period, and the burgeoning intrigue that carried me along. I’m glad of those things; if not for them, I might have taken an indefinite break from a book that turned out to be immensely enjoyable.
It’s best to follow the path that Ismae walks, determined to discover for herself who’s up to what and why, without knowing what’s ahead of you, so I’ll leave off discussing details, even vaguely. I’ll just say that a fondness for Ismae blossomed and grew as she struggled with the course set before her; that I was captivated from the very first by the man who slowly snared Ismae’s affection; that I loved several secondary characters, including a man widely known as and called Beast; and that I bought Dark Triumph straightaway after finishing Grave Mercy. Because the book’s ending? It’s a fitting way to conclude this post, and so I’ll add this to what I’ve just said: I read the last four paragraphs four, five times in a row. And I’ve read them several times since. They are that good.