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 received a review copy via Netgalley. This has not impact my review of the book. But thanks, Netgalley.
That right there should equal a five star review. Though I’m surprised no one else has thought of it before. I mean, any ill behaved Catholic child has dealt with a nun’s wrath during Sunday school before.
Or maybe this ill behaved Catholic dealt with some evil nuns (though the nuns would claim I was probably in need of an exorcist or at least a ruler slapping-which didn’t happen, but it totally could if my life would’ve been an old black and white movie starring Bing Crosby which it’s not).
Grave Mercy though was a bit of a disappointment because the killer nun was a big bore.
And I don’t like bores.
Especially self righteous bores like Ismae who question nothing.
Oh, Reverend Mother must be right because she’s Reverend Mother. Or at least that’s what she thought for a good chunk of the novel.
It probably also didn’t help that I know squat about French history in the 1400’s. My high school World History teacher was a bit of an anglophile and my college World History prof liked to talk about boring old religious philosophers so all this political intrigue they were talking up.
I was 100% completely ignorant.
Shows what an American public school education and tier one university will give you.
And I was like number one history student in my class, might I add. I have a lot of Kit Kat bars to prove it. Or did. I ate them like a long time ago before I realize I can’t eat gluten without getting a severe stomach ache/headache. Man, those were the days…
So, the fact that the book went into the nitty gritty on the whole France and Brittany (and we all know where this ends because if you see any episodes of Rick Steves he doesn’t go to a country named Brittany) made me a little oblivious.
Most of the characters were pretty bland. I was actually surprised that there was a romance here because she is a nun after all, but it wasn’t the most annoying romance in the YA world. Though it wasn’t great. For some reason, I kept imaging Duval to look like Phoebus via The Hunchback of Notre Dame so I least had that pretty piece of animation for mind candy. Though Duval was even duller than that Disney character. But since Ismae was dull I guess that made them an okay fit.
What really annoyed me about their relationship was the way Ismae saved him. Not to go into too much details, but that was the dumbest and cliche way ever to resolve something. Just saying it now. And for someone going from complete prude to that well…
Besides the rather bland romance and political talk, this book was pretty boring. You’d thin from the cover it would be a gritty violent read. It’s advertising assassin nuns after all. That has to be exciting.
But reading this book was like talking a dose of Ambien and then drinking Nightquail with it. Completely sleep inducing.
Seriously, how can you make such an awesome premises dull. I might as well been attending mass than reading this book. It was that boring.
Before writing this review, I kept trying to rationalize just why it was boring. Sure, the characters were dull and the plot was a little too politics heavy for someone who knows little to nothing about medieval French politics, but it still could’ve been exciting. And I could’ve learned something. I mean, I’ve learned lots about culture and history from books before and wasn’t Colleen Houck confused or bored out of my mind like I am when I read anything by Stephenie Meyer.
In the end, I think it was just the sum of all these factors together plus a horribly paced book. This is a thick one. Over five hundred pages and I think a good chunk of that could’ve been cut. Most of it is Ismae being ridiculous about wearing a tight outfit or thinking that everyone views her as a whore or trying to kill someone and failing in a way no real trained to be a badass would.
And then that end scene to save Duval.
And then all the important stuff, not enough time was spent on that. Ismae’s change in attitude. Sudden. Realizations. Sudden. Being obsessed about modesty. Not so sudden.
I hear the second book is better. And I’ll probably give it a try at some point. But with this one alone, I don’t know if you’re expecting bad ass killer nuns. Probably not the book for you.
Overall Rating: C