An exciting tale of courtly intrigue with a fatal twist. Ismae is a delightfully dangerous protagonist — wry, brave and unpredictable. The fantasy politics drag the story down somewhat, but LaFevers isn’t afraid to surprise her reader, and that keeps the plot moving. An interesting mythology, violent undertones, ferocious nuns and dashing knights — Grave Mercy manages to be fun and romantic as often as it’s dark and frightening.
Ismae has been feared and scorned her entire life, until she escapes a violent arranged marriage and finds a place at the convent of St. Mortain. There Ismae is finally among her own: she and her sisters have been chosen by Death himself to exact his vengeance on traitors and criminals. As Ismae learns to be terrifying as an assassin, she must also learn to be demure and attractive as a lady, as her most important task of all will take her to court. There, under the watchful eye of the disturbingly handsome Lord Duval, Ismae must choose between duty to her convent and to herself. (HOUGHTON MIFFLIN, Apr., 528 pp., $16.99, ISBN: 9780547628349, HC, 14 & Up)