A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Grave Mercy has many violent scenes that may be too mature for tweens. The opening pages describe the main character, Ismae, almost being raped by her drunken husband. She's also brutally beaten by her father and goes on to become a major assassin. Her victims are dishonorable men for whom she feels no remorse. There are also battle scenes with swords and daggers, and a character's horse is stabbed and killed.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Ismae is a 17-year-old girl who survives her mother's attempt to kill her at birth. Since that day, she's known in her tiny village in Brittany as the daughter of death, a survivor. Ismae spends her life trying to escape the blows of her brutal father and the man he arranged for her to marry. Then, on her wedding night, after suffering another torturous beating, a stranger comes to take Ismae to the convent of St. Mortain, the saint of death. There a group of nuns teaches Ismae the arts of war, intrigue, and persuasion -- all of which she must put to use as an assassin for her country, even if it means killing the man she's falling in love with.
Is it any good?
GRAVE MERCY is a wonderfully written novel that pulls readers into medieval France, specifically Brittany, with descriptive scenes of palaces, towns, and village people. Although the plotline (revenge-seeking woman becomes man killer) will attract some feminists, others may find it a bit overdone.
But the story is entertaining and filled with accurate historical details. The characters are likable and complex, and fans will be glad to know the book ends with the possibility of introducing a love story in the second installment.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the history of the Middle Ages. What were some cultural differences between that time and ours? Do you think Grave Mercy accurately depicts the era?
Why are the men in the book portrayed as such bullies?
How does Grave Mercy compare with other medieval fantasies?
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
For kids who love adventure and history
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.