Have you been thinking that there are not enough young adult novels out there about nuns who kill people in the name of the god of death? Well then, I have the book for you! But seriously, I really enjoyed Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers, and it’s lots of fun to tell people that you’re reading about assassin nuns.
Set in Brittany (now part of France) in the 1400s, the story follows Ismae, a teenage girl who is saved from an abusive father and an arranged marriage by joining a convent dedicated to Mortain, the god of death. And this convent teaches it’s novices some very specific skills, training them to be sent out into the world to kill those people marked by Mortain for death.
This was clearly published in the wake of The Hunger Games and Divergent and all those other teenage dystopian future series (this is the first in what looks like a planned trilogy), and it feels very much like those books. But if you’re a little sick of dystopian futures, like I am, this offers a nice twist by being set in the past. And while there is a bit of the magic/supernatural happening with the god of death and all, it’s really mostly a historical novel about life in medieval Europe. It featured a little more political intrigue than I would have preferred (However will the Duchess keep her crown? I don’t really care all that much!) but it also had adventure, romance, and strong female characters with a lot of agency. And it sure wasn’t like anything else I’ve read lately.
Kinsey’s Three Word Review: Dramatic, historical, romantic.
You might also like: Scott Westerfeld’s Pretties/Uglies series. Those are set in the future, but the books felt very similar. And I consider those really fun books, so.
I was at the library when I read this review and figured, what the hell, I’ll give it a shot, because remember how much fun Death Comes as Epiphany was? This is also exactly why we have this blog, because I trust your recommendations and there is no way I would have picked up this book without it. Between the dramatic cover illustration, the title tagline of “Why be the sheep when you can be the wolf?” and the inner flap plot description which ends with “For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?” I never would have picked this book up on my own. It is also HUGE, but then I opened it up and that text is pretty big, too. I’ve already read the first chapter and it looks like it will be pretty entertaining.
I’ll be interested to hear what you think because yeah, it’s not great literature or anything, but I also feel like its not quite the book it looks like from the cover.
Oh man, I am completely hooked! I actually really liked the political intrigue aspect of it, and while you are right that it isn’t any sort of literary feat, I enjoyed it enormously, and have already gone and checked out the sequel. The sequel actually features a different character from the same world, which is something I really like, because I get a little tired of the same character after a while.
You may be more into this than I am! I haven’t bothered with the sequel yet, but I agree that the idea of following different nuns around while they go on missions is a good plan. I’m glad you enjoyed it and that it wasn’t too much sheep and wolf nonsense.
I just posted my review of the sequel, which I thought was way better than Grave Mercy, so I definitely recommend it. I kind of liked the sheep and wolf nonsense in Grave Mercy, but Dark Triumph doesn’t have nearly as much of it, so I really do think you’ll like it a lot better, too.