The Writer's View - Grave Mercy by R.L. LaFevers
From Goodreads: 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?
The Writer's View
OMG guys, I loved this book! I read one Amazon review that sums it up nicely: Killer Nuns. That's right, killer nuns. I kid you not. In this book, there is a convent of women dedicated to serving the God of Death. They take in young girls and train them to be the modern equivalent of Navy Seals. Their job, once trained, is to go out and assassinate those marked for death by their God. It's dark, quite a bit twisted, and totally bad ass! I loved it!
Tension through political intrigue
Sigh. I love a good political intrigue novel. I think one of the reasons I love them so much is that I can't write them. This novel abounds with political intrigue. I think writers who embark on this type of novel always run the risk of confusing the readers with too many characters and too many subplots. I am happy to report I encountered none of this in Grave Mercy. There wre just enough characters and subplots to keep things interesting, but not enough to leave me in the dark. The intrigue kept me on the edge of my seat until the very end.
Character growth was one of the other things I just adored about this novel. Esme, the MC, starts out as a rather blood-thirsty, trigger-happy, kick-ass chick. I can't say too much more without spoiling the ending, but I will say that although Esme remains deadly, she leaves behind the trigger-happy side and evolves into a person with profound compassion. I found her character growth profound, incredibly well-developed, and not without a little bit of cultural commentary. I don't see many spec fic books written with such a great focus on character evolution.
Other things I loved
This is another one of those books I could just go on and on about, but I'll try and wrap it up quickly. I loved the historical setting and the bits of real history woven into the story. I loved the romance, which functioned as a lovely sub-plot. I loved the action, the strong female characters, the creative worldbuilding--really, just everything! I can't wait for the next book in this series to come out!