Grave Mercy by R.L. LaFevers
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
There is so much love for this book - and I do understand that love - but there was also the dreaded padding to contend with. I wanted more in the convent itself, getting to know about the training and the poisons, as well as Sybella(!!) and less of the embroidery at the feet of the duchess.
Basing this on an episode of Brittany v France's long struggle (I did check; the duchess, the "French whore" and all those are actual historical figures) and rooting it in the Old Gods (checked that, too, and while there may have been pagan worship in Brittany, Mortain is not the name of one of the gods/saints) was an interesting choice. Again, I wanted more about the Old Gods, less about the machinations of court. Every time the tension ratcheted up, there were long passages that killed it. Padding. Blergh. Example? The excursion into the forest, when Ismae and Duval go to meet with the possible husband for Anne could have been one page, rather than the several it was (I get that they had to have the Duval's head in Ismae's lap scene, but really? we'd already gotten several of those).
When I started this I hoped for a Mists of Avalon type book, but again (and I can't stress this enough - it cost the book a star) the balance of the action skewed to the historical intrigue rather than the Old Gods/assassins.