Blog Tour: With Malice by Eileen Cook + GIVEAWAY!!!With Malice by Eileen Cook
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
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A read about a teenage girl who wakes up in a hospital bed and cannot remember the last six weeks of her life, including the accident that killed her best friend--only what if the accident wasn't an accident?

Eighteen-year-old Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital room, leg in a cast, stitches in her face and a big blank canvas where the last 6 weeks should be. She comes to discover she was involved in a fatal accident while on a school trip in Italy three days previous but was jetted home by her affluent father in order to receive quality care. Care that includes a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident...wasn't an accident. Wondering not just what happened but what she did, Jill tries to piece together the events of the past six weeks before she loses her thin hold on her once-perfect life.

WITH MALICE

A read about a teenage girl who wakes up in a hospital bed and cannot remember the last six weeks of her life, including the accident that killed her best friend– only what if the accident wasn’t an accident?

(REMEMBER TO SCROLL TO THE END FOR THE AWESOME GIVEAWAY! US ONLY.)

with malice_hres

About the Book

Title: WITH MALICE

Author: Eileen Cook

Pub. Date: June 7, 2016

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Format: Hardcover, eBook, & audiobook

Find it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Goodreads

Eighteen-year- old Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital room, leg in a cast, stitches in her face and a big blank canvas where the last 6 weeks should be. She comes to discover she was involved in a fatal accident while on a school trip in Italy three days previous but was jetted home by her affluent father in order to receive quality care. Care that includes a lawyer.  And a press team. Because maybe the accident…wasn’t an accident. Wondering not just what happened but what she did, Jill tries to piece together the events of the past six weeks before she loses her thin hold on her once-perfect life.

Montepulcian, Tuscany, Italia
Montepulciano, Tuscany, Italia

With Malice is the perfect beach/vacay/rum and coke night/in Broadchurch binge-watch withdrawals kind of read.

When I read the synopsis of this book, the first thing that popped into my head was the Amanda Knox murder trial. For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s the REALLY SHORT VERSION: Amanda Knox, an American study abroad student, and her Italian boyfriend were convicted of murdering Amanda’s British roommate in a scandalous sexcapade gone wrong. Their conviction was later overturned after the incompetency of the Italian police was exposed and evidence was mishandled. I’m not one to get caught up into news stories, but man, oh man. This one pulled me in. With Malice hooked and reeled me in the same way.

With Malice had all the drama and spectacle of an Italian opera; a captivating psychological thriller that examines the most base of  human emotions and motivations. The author did an excellent job of working in a few relevant social issues and planting red herrings. The story did an excellent job of examining the influence the media and new technology of the last decade has on high-profile trials, and even puts social media on trial itself. All of this is executed in a masterful way, never moralizing or trite. The author pulls off these similar cultural/social questions as effortlessly as the writers of Broadchurch did.

Bellini’s opera, Norma, is all about love triangles and being stabbed in the back. I think Maria Callas’ 1955 rendition of Casta Diva, the most famous aria from Norma, would be the perfect soundtrack for a book trailer of With Malice. The scratchiness of the un-remastered recording gives it just the right amount of creepiness.

The story world moves back and forth between Italy and a hospital in the States. I really savored the scenes that played out in Italy because the author captures the UGH-ness of hospital life so well in the others.

I was on the fence about the main character, Jill, for the whole book. One minute I was thinking she was a cool, level-headed chick. The next minute I was thinking that she was a biatch, lol. But this was purposeful in order to build the ” I have no idea what to think” frustration-feels for the reader.

The pace of the story is a really slow burn, and I will be honest about the ending. It kind of pissed me off. I felt like stabbing something when all the pieces finally came together. That probably means the story did its job. 😉

Brava to the author for cooking up (sorry, I couldn’t resist) such a wonderfully frustrating and captivating thriller. This book hit the spot after a long and agonizing week of Broadchurch withdrawals I was experiencing. I can’t wait to read what Eileen Cook writes next. ENTER BELOW FOR A CHANCE TO WIN 1 OF 3 COPIES of WITH MALICE, US ONLY!

The below video will totally make sense after reading the book. One of my greatest fears about  visiting Italy is driving around on the psycho-roads. Oh, the video also has some pretty pics of towns and other Italian splendor. A vacation for the eyes. 🙂

 

EileenAbout Eileen:

Eileen Cook is a multi-published author with her novels appearing in eight different languages.

Her books have been optioned for film and TV.  She spent most of her teen years wishing she were someone else or somewhere else, which is great training for a writer. Her newest book, WITH MALICE, will be out in June 2016. She’s an instructor/mentor with the Simon Fraser University Writer’s Studio Program.

You can read more about Eileen, her books, and the things that strike her as funny

at www.eileencook.com. Eileen lives in Vancouver with her husband and two very naughty dogs and no longer wishes to be anyone or anywhere else.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook | Instagram

Tour Schedule

Week One:

5/30/2016- The Cover Contessa- Interview

5/31/2016- MEREADALOT- Review

6/1/2016- Such a Novel Idea- Guest Post

6/2/2016- A Gingerly Review- Review

6/3/2016- Twinning for Books- Interview

Week Two:

6/6/2016- Just Commonly- Review

6/7/2016- Novel Novice- Guest Post

6/8/2016- Wandering Bark Books- Review

6/9/2016- Literary Meanderings – Interview

6/10/2016- A Dream Within A Dream- Review

Giveaway Details:

3 winners will receive finished copies of WITH MALICE, US Only.

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Blog Tour: An Inheritance of Ashes by Leah BobetAn Inheritance of Ashes by Leah Bobet
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on October 6, 2015
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
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The strange war down south—with its rumors of gods and monsters—is over. And while sixteen-year-old Hallie and her sister wait to see who will return from the distant battlefield, they struggle to maintain their family farm.

When Hallie hires a veteran to help them, the war comes home in ways no one could have imagined, and soon Hallie is taking dangerous risks—and keeping desperate secrets. But even as she slowly learns more about the war and the men who fought it, ugly truths about Hallie’s own family are emerging. And while monsters and armies are converging on the small farm, the greatest threat to her home may be Hallie herself.

INHERITANCEOFASHS

 

(WARNING: To my Southern friends- I may use a couple of Northern slang words in place of ”awesome” or ”super cool”. I don’t know why. Can you spot them?)

I’m not really a Fantasy fan but damn, this book was wicked good.

An Inheritance of Ashes is one of the BEST BOOKS I’ve read so far this year. I was completely taken by the atmospheric story world and the haunting characters. Hallie, the female protagonist, is fantastically developed and I was addicted to her internal monologue. The supporting characters are equally stellar and they all fit together like a technicolor cast from an old Western television show with a couple unexpected character dynamics.

There’s a wee bit of romance that satisfied my sweet tooth for it and added another interesting layer to the main character’s already complicated life. I always find it interesting to see how characters/people handle something like romantic feelings or romantic relationships in the midst of life and death crisis.

“Tyler’s lips moved, weird and living, against mine; small, infinitesimal spaces meeting and parting. His fingers leafed lightly along my cheek, warm in their knit woolen gloves. I fought the sudden urge to lean against them; fought and equal urge to pull away and run. My mouth flooded with the taste of him: soup-sweet and faintly metallic with fear. The world shrank to fingertip details, and then he broke and stepped away from me.”

The dialect, mannerisms and story world painted a picture of the Civil War era with dystopian overtones. The strange, fantasy like elements start to seep into the story quickly and it is such a satisfying and smart juxtaposition the author works throughout the novel.

There were a couple of aspects of this story that reminded me of Stephen King’s The Mist. SCORE!

The pace of the novel breeds the perfect levels of anticipation and curiosity. I didn’t want to put this book down. The story progresses with the same kind of delicious intensity and suspense of a Stephen King novel.

Leah Bobet’s writing voice was sick. There’s this musical, poetic rhythm to her writing that forced me to read out loud on more than one occasion so I could feel the magical sentences on my lips.

“White stains roped around the sides of the tree, and where they spread, the wood buckled and fissured deep. There were strange flowers growing through those cracks: moon-bright, delicate white, their striped petals warm and glowing. They’d brought the tree into leaf out of season: a full head of brilliant green glittered on the branches, each leaf half uncurled when it had frozen solid. It was an incandescent nightmare, awful and beautiful, begging to be touched.”

 An Inheritance of Ashes really set the “October” mood for me with its creepiness and bad-ass syntax. Definitely one of the best fiction books I’ve read this year and one of those books that I will force the hubs to read because it’s so dang good. ENTER TO WIN a finished copy of An Inheritance of Ashes BELOW!

3 winners will receive a finished copy of AN INHERITANCE OF ASHES. US Only.

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And just for fun:

The whole feel of An Inheritance of Ashes was like the theme song for AMC’s TURN: Washington’s Spies and a couple of other songs by The Civil Wars, Laura Marling and Johnny Cash. I listened to these artists while reading the book because it really set the mood for me. You can have a listen of the more instrumental version of TURN’s theme song below and some of the other songs from my reading soundtrack.

 

Leah

About Leah:

Leah Bobet is a bookseller, publisher, and editor as well as a Pushcart-Prize nominated author.

She lives in Toronto.

Website | Twitter |Facebook | Goodreads

 

 

 

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

9/28/2015- Literary Meanderings- Interview

9/29/2015-

9/30/2015- Moonlight Gleam Reviews- Guest Post

10/1/2015-

10/2/2015- Stories & Sweeties- Excerpt

Week Two:

10/5/2015- Falling For YA- Review

10/6/2015- A Dream Within A Dream- Guest Post

10/7/2015- Head Stuck In A

10/8/2015- Once Upon a

10/9/2015- Book Briefs- Review

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Dangerous Deceptions ( Palace of Spies #2) by Sarah ZettelDangerous Deceptions by Sarah Zettel
Series: Palace of Spies #2
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on November 4, 2014
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
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Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
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As a lady in waiting in King George’s London court, Peggy has survived a forced betrothal, royal scandals, and an attempt or two on her life. And now she has a new problem: her horrible fiancé has returned to claim her! To save her neck, or at least her hand in marriage, Peggy joins forces with her cousin Olivia and her sweetheart, Matthew. But if she doesn’t play her cards right, her career as courtier and spy might come to an end at the bottom of the river Thames . . .

You can check out my review of the first book in this series, Palace of Spies #1 HERE.

Palace of Spies

 

(I love this series. HARD.)

George_I_Oval
King George I
Melusine, King's Royal Mistress
Melusine, King’s Royal Mistress
Sophia Dorthea, the King's wife.
Sophia Dorthea, the King’s wife.

I love Historical Fiction and Non-Fiction and read quite a bit of both, so I wouldn’t say I’m easily impressed. There’s just something so clever about Sarah Zettel’s characters/dialogue, and something so sneaky-educational about her writing. I’ve never learned so much about the time period and customs of King George I’s court as I have from reading her deceptively scholarly Palace of Spies novels.

St. James Palace, London
St. James Palace, London

Peggy Fitzroy, our protagonist, is dealt another wild card in this sequel to Palace of Spies as the fiancé she escaped from in her previous life outside of the palace comes to court to haunt her. We have a setting change from Hampton Court Palace to St.James Palace in London in this book, and the pacing and feel of the novel is something akin to a royal horse-drawn carriage dashing its way through a bumpy country road. Just as Peggy thinks she’s gained some ground, some sinister nuisance becomes a stick in her wagon wheel. Peggy is a refreshing heroine in Hanoverian England. She’s smart and determined and refuses to let outside circumstances and conventions determine her destiny.

I'm a little jealous of this cover, and I'm not sure where it came from (found on Pinterest) or why it says ''Book 1", but I want this edition!
I’m a little jealous of this cover, and I’m not sure where it came from (found on Pinterest) or why it says ”Book 1″, but I want this edition!

The layman’s reconnaissance missions and suspenseful games of cat and mouse were wholly entertaining. The budding romance between Peggy and ”the wrong boy” is the stuff that romance novels are made of. The competitive court atmosphere and games of gossip roulette are pitch perfect. Dangerous Deceptions will be a special treat for those who are eagerly awaiting the new season of BBC’s The Musketeers like I am. The Palace of Spies novels carry all the action, adventure, romance, and wonderful plotting and story telling that The Musketeers does.

It seems like a horribly LONG TIME to wait for the next novel in this series to come out (January 2016), but I know the wait will be worth it. Here’s the cover of the third installment, Assassin’s Masque:

Assassins-Masque-Cover-198x300

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Palace of Spies by Sarah ZettelPalace of Spies by Sarah Zettel
Series: Palace of Spies #1
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on November 5, 2013
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
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A warning to all young ladies of delicate breeding who wish to embark upon lives of adventure: Don't.

Sixteen-year-old Peggy is a well-bred orphan who is coerced into posing as a lady in waiting at the palace of King George I. Life is grand, until Peggy starts to suspect that the girl she's impersonating might have been murdered. Unless Peggy can discover the truth, she might be doomed to the same terrible fate. But in a court of shadows and intrigue, anyone could be a spy—perhaps even the handsome young artist with whom Peggy is falling in love...

History and mystery spark in this effervescent series debut.

Let’s start with the AWESOME book trailer, shall we?

 

Fans of Etiquette and Espionage will (should) love Palace of Spies.

I try to refrain from doing this- but after reading the book and giving it five stars on Goodreads, I scanned some of the less than stellar reviews of the novel. One reviewer commented that the book had ”casual racism” in it and I was a little perplexed by this.

There were no instances of ”casual racism”, just social norms that were true to the time period which is to be expected in a true-to-form Historical Fiction novel. Even with that being said, there wasn’t anything insensitive to a particular race in this novel that I can recall.

Moving on, I read A LOT of  Historical Fiction. I’m not easily impressed when it comes to the HF, and I absolutely LOVED this novel. Palace of Spies was pitch perfect for me. Sara Zettel really nailed the historical voice and feel of the time period.

A sample of Sarah Zettel’s lovely writing:

Whatever indignation I felt was entirely banished by the sudden intrusion of complete bewilderment. Separately, all things made sense. Sebastian’s hand under my chin was warm. His eyes were blue. His brow, beneath the line of his tidy wig, was wide and clear. His mouth was inclined to smile. It was the details that threatened to overwhelm: how one corner of his mouth tipped softly upward, how his long, thick lashes curved as he half closed those blue eyes to concentrate on his task. The soft, persistent pattering of the linen against my face. The crook of his strong finger under my chin and the way in which he guided my head to turn slightly to the left so he could minister to another portion of my wounded cheek.

Although the majority of this book could be considered suitable for Mid-grade readers, it gradually matured as far as context/content goes and felt like a solid YA by the end of it.

Monarchs: King George I, Caroline- Princess of Wales, Frederick-Prince of Wales (King George II)

King_George_I_by_Sir_Godfrey_Kneller,_Bt_(3)Princess Caroline of WalesPrince of Wales, George II

 

The settings and descriptions were splendid as the female protagonist, Peggy Fitzroy, assumes her spot under a false identity as one of Princess Caroline’s Maids of Honor in King George I’s court. There are three major location settings, but most of our intrigue and spying takes place at the maze-like Hampton Court Palace.

Some lovely interior/exterior views of Hampton Court Palace where the story takes place:

Hampton Court Interior 1Hampton Court Palace ExteriorHampton Court Interior 3

The premise of the novel is familiar enough: Girl is an orphan with no rights of her own-Girl is forced to betroth a most unamiable man of stature and wealth-Girl refuses betrothal and is disowned by uncle-Girl is forced to accept a mysterious proposition by one who offers to take her in.

Palace of Spies was a page turner for me. The pacing was enjoyable and the Royal mystery was extremely fun and quite possible for the time period. Sarah Zettel has obviously been meticulous in her research of court customs, fashion, affairs, and cosmetics. The author seriously immerses the reader in this time period and the socio-political atmosphere during George the first’s reign.

Belladonna tincture

While reading this I was reminded of a film or two I have seen before, but cannot recall their names at the moment. There was a sort of immersion into action/dialogue/plot, and then moments where time would stand still as the protagonist observed something/realized something/assessed a situation. Maybe like the intro of 2011’s Three Musketeers film– where things are sped up and then slowed down? You know what cinema effect I’m talking about.

Sarah Zettel’s syntax and style is ridiculously good. It might possibly be distractingly good, at first, to the reader because of how ”historical” it sounds, but I found I quickly adapted to the narration.

The narrative is written as a sort of memoir of Peggy Fitzroy, and each chapter begins with a fun heading like:

“In Which Our Heroine Perfects Her Role, Renews Acquaintances, And Unfolds Fresh Mysteries.”

When I read a historical novel that is set amidst the backdrop of a court and involves real historical monarchs, I usually NEED for the historical context to be accurate, and Sarah Zettel does just that. She’s weaved Peggy’s story in and out of accurate descriptions of the history and prominent people of this time period. This is NOT an alternate history novel. There is just a believable fictitious story thrown in. During Peggy’s palace adventure, we see: King George I, Prince and Princess of Wales, Robert Walpole, Isaac Newton, G.F. Handel, the list goes on.

Below: Newton, Walpole, and Handel

Isaac Newton portraitRobert WalpoleHandel portrait

I absolutely LOVED that Sarah Zettel put things in perspective by including other non-fictional characters from the world of science, music, and court politics to give the reader an idea of what else was going on in the world during this time period, even if they were just briefly referenced.

There is a touch of forbidden romance that promises much more in the sequel: Dangerous Deceptions. I wholeheartedly enjoyed this book and am now a Sarah Zettel fangirl. I recommend the Palace of Spies series to fans of Gail Carriger. Although, I don’t want to lean too heavily on drawing comparisons between the two because Sarah Zettel’s work deserves to stand alone on its own merits (I enjoyed PoS WAY MORE than E&E). Have you read Palace of Spies? Do share your thoughts. 🙂

And just for fun:

“Water Music” by Handel (1717) – This was played for King George and his royal guests.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnn3TVBDtcA

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Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2) by Robin LaFeversDark Triumph by Robin LaFevers
Series: His Fair Assassin #2
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on April 2, 2013
Pages: 400
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
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When Sybella arrived at the doorstep of St Mortain half mad with grief and despair the convent were only too happy to offer her refuge - but at a price. The sisters of this convent serve Death, and with Sybella naturally skilled in both the arts of death and seduction, she could become one of their most dangerous weapons.

But her assassin's skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to the life that nearly drove her mad. Her father's rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother's love is equally monstrous. But when Sybella discovers an unexpected ally she discovers that a daughter of Death may find something other than vengeance to live for...

You can check out my review for Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1) HERE.

Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy Dark Triumph like I did Grave Mercy. This second book in the series was close to 200 pages shorter but seemed much longer. To be honest, it was a laborious read for me.

Dark Triumph seamlessly picks up where Grave Mercy ends, but we are now looking through Sybella’s eyes. Sybella is a contemporary of Ismae’s. She is a fellow hand maiden of death and has been trained in the same deadly arts. While both Ismae and Sybella have very dark pasts, Sybella’s is somewhat more twisted and sinister.

The things I enjoyed about this book: The writing is still as beautifully crafted as in the first book. The characters are interesting and unique. I enjoyed the in-depth descriptions of the story world.

The plot in this installment moves along much slower than the first, and it wasn’t as intriguing. Much less historical context is focused on, and I believe the author states this in her notes at the end of the book.

Kinda what I imagined Sybella like.
Kinda what I imagined Sybella like.

Let me just start with this- Sybella is not the best character to be immersed in for a 400 page book. It was quite disturbing, boring, and frustrating. BUT THIS IS JUST MY OPINION. The same things I found annoying about her might be immensely interesting to other readers.  A lot of her inner dialogue was repetitive to the point of SEVERE ANNOYANCE for me. She would be faced with a decision about something or faced with a new experience/feeling, and here we go again with, “No one can love me. I’m damaged goods.” Or, “I’m too dark and demented to love someone,” yada yada yada.

“No. There could never be anything between us… As nice as it was to have someone view me in a flattering light, I was not worthy of his true regard. ” This thought is a broken record on repeat throughout the book.

I understand it is an important theme concerning her character, but I just wanted to bitch-slap her by the end of it.

WARNING: The below part of my review is slightly spoiler-ish concerning the sub-plot.

How I imagined Beast.
How I imagined Beast.

I did enjoy the “Beauty and the Beast” romance to this book. I was actually more drawn to “Beast” the secondary character in this novel than to Sybella. Beast is one of Duval’s comrades from Grave Mercy and he is very entertaining and likable in that “big ugly teddy bear” kind of way. Part of me wished the novel had been written from his POV.

I don’t really have much more to say about this one. I know a lot of people liked this book in the series far better than the first, but I wasn’t one of them. I adored Ismae and Duval in the first book and was disappointed when I saw that the next book would not be continued from their POVs. But I totally understand how the author wanted to expand on the wonderful secondary characters she had created. I can’t wait to read Mortal Heart (hopefully soon). I hope I like it as much as Grave Mercy or even more. Have you read this trilogy? Which book was your favorite?

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Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1)  by Robin LaFeversGrave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
Series: His Fair Assassin #1
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on April 3, 2012
Pages: 549
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
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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 remember the first time I almost purchased Grave Mercy.

It was a fateful spring night and under a facade of calmness, I was trying to decide on a book to purchase from Target’s limited selection of YA lit as the clock clicked closer to closing time. The book I had come for was out of stock, so I scanned the section for something else that looked appealing. I HAD to have a book. Going home empty handed wasn’t an option. The book-monster needed to be fed.

The intimidating tome that was Grave Mercy stared at me from its prominent front-cover display. I read the back quickly and new it was something the historian in me would love, but I just wasn’t in the mood to commit to this brick of a book that I had heard lukewarm things about. So I went for the pretty purple covered one right next to it: Fated. You can see how that little decision turned out right here.

A treaty that causes many problems in Grave Mercy.
A treaty that causes many problems in Grave Mercy.

Over a year later, I finally ended up purchasing Grave Mercy from  B&N. When I read the story synopsis again, it was like reading it for the first time. I was so excited to dive into Grave Mercy and I thought to myself, “How the FRIG did I pass this up the first time?!”.

I really enjoyed this book. I devoured it, basically. The book-monster was very pleased. Once I read the first few chapters, the girth of the novel didn’t seem so intimidating.

An Illuminated text from 15th Century France.
An Illuminated text from 15th Century France.

The setting amongst a 15th Century Brittany/France backdrop was absolutely captivating. I have always been intrigued with the Pagan gods and Pagan rituals that were commonplace before Christianity became law in Europe, and LaFevers uses this rich history of Paganism as the backbone of her story.

A young Gabrielle Anwar as a plotting Ismae perhaps?
A young Gabrielle Anwar as a plotting Ismae perhaps?

The novel is written in first person and we are intimately acquainted with Ismae, the main character, right from the beginning. Her character continually changes throughout the novel and I really enjoyed seeing her evolve and ultimately question everything she believes by the end of the story. Ismae is an extremely likable heroine and was very exciting to live vicariously through.

I find it very delightful to imagine Cavill as Duval.
And of course I find it very delightful to imagine Cavill as Duval.

And dear Pagan gods of yore, Gavriel Duval- Ismae’s love interest- is the stuff that Disney princes are made of. If Disney made adult fairy tales. Duval is a ruggedly handsome devil with a heart of gold. There is a sarcastic, playful banter that takes place between Ismae and Duval, creating a most intoxicating slow-burn romance. Duval is the PERFECT match to Ismae’s character. He is the trifecta of Charming, Confident, and HOT. I could not get enough of Duval and Ismae together.

"Oh, my, Duval! What has come over you?!" " I can no longer resist you, Ismae. You have seduced me with your assassin charms!"
“Oh, my, Duval! What has come over you?!” ” I can no longer resist you, Ismae. You have seduced me with your assassin charms!”

The cast of supporting characters were interesting in their own right and colorfully depicted. Their story, as well as Ismae’s and Duvals is centered around the time period of Anne of Brittany’s succession, and you can read more about the historical context here.

The pacing of the novel was nice and steady. And despite its length, I never felt a lull. I imagine this book to be much like French cuisine is- a perfect blend of all the ingredients that make a book something to be savored and deliciously digested. In this sense, Robin LaFevers is a Master Chef.

Fans of Grave Mercy and books like it will also enjoy Rima Jean’s Knight Assassin. You can check out my review and casting of characters for Knight Assassin here.

Knight Assassin cover

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