E-galley received from Netgalley for review.
A couple of months ago, Netgalley offered the first book in this exciting new series, Grave Mercy, as a "read now" galley - meaning that you can see it immediately, without having to wait for the publisher to approve of your request. I downloaded and put it on my e-reader. It's a rich story, although in some points it might be not so easily believable. I'm providing the review now, even though it might be a bit late.
In order to escape from an arranged marriage and a violent husband, 17-year-old Ismae finds shelter in the convent of St Mortain. Here, she learns that the nuns serve the ancient god of Death Himself and that she has been gifted with special abilities that will make her the handmaiden of Death. If she chooses to remain at the convent, she will be trained to become a skilled assassin and will murder people following instructions coming from the god Himself.
Ismae's assignment brings her at the court of Brittany, posing as the cousin/mistress of Duval, a knight who serves the future queen of Brittany. It's a dangerous mission, but not only for the enemies she will have to face. She also risks losing her heart. Can a novice from St Mortain follow her own heart, as well as her god's instructions?
I liked this book well enough. It has a mysterious atmosphere and gloomy setting. Even though it's the first book in a series (trilogy, I'm assuming), it stands well on its own and doesn't leave the reader hanging at the ending (a feature that I really appreciate. Maybe the next book will focus on some other novice at the convent, like Sabella. I'd liek to learn more about her.) Ismae's love interest is quite fanciable, which cannot hurt.
Some other things I liked less. For example, it's never properly explained why Ismae has the gift of being immune to most poisons. But I guess we need to consider it a proof of her being fathered by Death. Its' not a big issue, anyway. I think I'd like to continue with this series. I'd recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction, especially of the medieval period.Cover attraction:
it's one of the endless variations of the "pretty girl in a beautiful dress" theme which features so prominently on YA book covers. Its well done, though. The girl holds a sword (?) in her hand and wears a deep red dresswhich recalls the colour of blood. It's a striking cover. If I saw it at the library or in a bookstore, I'd certainly pick the book up.