I have to say that I spend a lot of time researching what I want to read. I do like YA novels but not all so I read a lot of reviews and look at what others are recommending before I buy something. This time, I saw Grave Mercy on someone else's blog. I was drawn to the cover and knew immediately after reading the description that this was the next book for me.
Here is the synopsis from Barnes and Noble:
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 loved this book! It really wasn't YA in my opinion. I won't give away too much. Ismae is young at the start of the story when she is mercifully brought to the convent after being beaten and almost raped. We learn about the convent, who Ismae really is, and see some of her training to become a handmaiden of Death but the story quickly skips ahead three years to the main plot. Because Ismae had such a hard young life, she walks into her assignment believing that she will follow the will of Death no matter what and that this is her only goal in life. That serving Him is the only thing that will make her happy. As the story progresses however, and she becomes more embroiled in the deception around her, she has several revelations and her feelings about these beliefs begin to change.
The action scenes in this book kept me turning the pages and the relationship that slowly develops between Ismae and Duval as she learns to trust him was beautiful. The supporting characters were all well developed and I especially loved Beast, who I believe has a larger role in the next book.
The historical setting was detailed and I felt as if I were right there in the time period with the characters. There were just enough twists and turns thrown in to keep me guessing until almost the very end. The story wrapped up nicely but could also easily continue and while I know the next book focuses on Sybella, another of Death's daughters, I hope to hear more about Ismae and Duval as well. I completely recommend this book and can't wait to read the next one!