Actual Rating: 4.5 stars.
I absolutely love a good historical fiction novel once in a while. It's not a genre I can read constantly, but sometimes I pick up one that pops. I read in a few reviews that some thought it was a little slower paced than they expected out of book that has "assassin nuns" in the summary. And, while I will admit to wishing Ismae would have a couple more action scenes rather than just talk about all the ways she can kill peoeple, I was actually pretty absorbed in the other aspect of the novel, the political part.
The whole 'saint/god of Death' thing was really a put off for me for a while. But I decided to give Grave Mercy a chance, and I'm really glad I did! I really appreciated the world building and Ismae as a protagonist. Women were not treated particularly well in this time period, but Ismae was really strong and thoughtful under her circumstances.
The romance was really quite lovely. I like the suble ones that kind of creep up on you for a while until they're suddenly just there, and the othes where the two people involved don't necessarily like each other much in the beginning. Duval was an interesting character who was extremely loyal to his Dutchess.
I had my suspicions about the traitor throughout the course of the book, and even though I was right, sometimes the road leading up to the big reveal is entertaining enough to make someone not care that they already know.
The author clearly did some research wih Grave Mercy, and it shows. The writing is also very sofisticated, which I can always appreciate. Nothing worse than a badly edited or poorly researched book.
The only thing that prevents me from giving this a full five stars is the ending. I thought everything wrapped up a little too nicely, a little too fast.
I'm really excited for the next book in the series, Dark Triumph, which will focus on Sybella, Ismae's sister from the convent who shows up every now and again throughout Grave Mercy.