[Editor’s Note: Since Grave Mercy has benefited from a colossal publicity push, we thought it would be worth having a second opinion on this book. Interestingly, Sandra’s take is quite similar to Laura’s. Warning: Some may read this review as slightly spoilerish.]
Set in medieval Brittany, Grave Mercy’s timeless theme of abuse and escape gives the story of Ismae, Death’s Daughter, a contemporary storyline that unfortunately does not work, even when I did my best to employ the concept of Suspension of Disbelief.
Mortain, the God of Death, feeds off belief in and worship of him much as humans nourish themselves with bread and meat. Without belief and worship, Mortain would starve for lack of sustenance. Ismae Rienne, who Robin LaFevers created in Grave Mercy, bears a deep, red stain from her left shoulder to her right hip,
…a trail left by herbwitche’s poison that [her] mother used to expel [her] from her womb.
The expulsion failed.
Life for Ismae’s mother was too ugly, dangerous and harsh to bring a child into. Yet, Ismae survived with a mark upon her signifying her role as the daughter of death, Mortain’s progeny. Her earthly father did not perceive the mark of the God Mortain upon her as significant, rather he viewed her as his personal whipping post, something he could pummel his fists upon thus feeding his cruel streak.