Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers
Genre: Historical, Romance
Published by: HMH Books for Young Readers
Series: Grave Mercy (#1) | Dark Triumph (#2)
Where to Find: Goodreads | Amazon
I have loved the rest of the His Fair Assassin trilogy and I absolutely could not wait to start reading Mortal Heart, where we’d finally hear Annith’s side of things! However, I hate to say it, but I was bitterly disappointed with this as a conclusion! I can’t believe I didn’t enjoy this after loving the first two so much. Maybe it was because of how long it took me to get round to reading it, but I think its problems lie somewhere in these three things:
C H A R A C T E R S
We hear a lot about Annith from Ismae and Sybella and from what I could gather she’s pretty similar to Jane Eyre – if Jane could shoot an arrow really well. She’s dedicated to her role, but a little too curious for her own good. Annith has pretty much gotten too good to stay in the convent anymore, and she’s fed up of the leading Sister continually rejecting her pleas to have a mission and sending younger, inexperienced, girls in her place. So she decides to go it alone.
Mortal Heart contains all the characters we’ve previously loved and a couple new ones that we’ve either never heard of before or are only referenced briefly. A lot of attention is paid to the other gods and their worshippers, and I really enjoyed learning more about the world and it would be fun if LaFevers did companion novels focusing on some of the other different ‘clans’.
Obviously, Annith needs a love interest who comes in the form of Balthazar. He’s similar to Beast, in many ways, from Dark Triumph and I enjoyed his rugged Rochesterness as much as ever. However, to me, he still seemed a little under developed. There’s a lot of mystery surrounding him, and without giving away any spoilers, the answer to questions make sense but they don’t justify the lack of detail in their relationship, which leads me on to…
R O M A N C E
If there’s one thing that Robin LaFevers knows how to do, it’s a good romance. I mean, really. Even if the male protagonists aren’t really your type you can still enjoy the romantic elements. I have to admit that I was mostly disappointed by how heavy the romance was in this story. Ismae and Sybella got to be kick-ass and get fiancees but Annith and Balthazar’s relationship seemed rushed, if anything; almost like it was only there because we’ve come to expect a relationship plot line after the first two books.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy that Annith’s happy, but maybe it would’ve been nice for her to end up independent. Although, this series does take place in the 15th century, so what do you expect?
Regardless, their relationship was probably the most interesting thing about this book! Maybe it could’ve been achieved in slightly less pages. That is a bit ridiculous though, right? A book of 400 odd pages and the romance still feels rushed…
P L O T | P A C I N G
I found Mortal Heart to be infuriatingly repetitive. Annith seems to constantly be having conversations with Convent asking why she had never been allowed to go on a mission and serve Mortain. These conversations were cyclic and we never seemed to learn anything new. I swear they had the same conversation at least six times at different points in the novel. This really slowed the pace, making it considerably less enthralling that the other books in the series. We spend a considerable amount of time in the convent to begin with and I’d say the story only really picks up when Annith is on the road and in the castle with the Princess.
My other main issue was with the fact that the majority of the action would happen outside of the frame, as it were. Ismae or Sybella would disappear/leave on a mission and when they would return they would update everyone else on who was now dead and what they’re plan of action should be. Basically, the action was experienced second hand, Annith wasn’t a part of it, she just listened to the York Notes version.
Annith did get up to some mischief on her own, though. Mortal Heart is mostly a story about discovery, and learning who you’re truly meant to be. I loved all the section where Annith would tell us about what life was life at the convent when she was younger, and I have to admit that even though there were clues and a million conversations about it, I didn’t guess the big reveal (that happened way to late in the narrative, in my opinion, and only seemed to be an ex machina for the relationship to happen, similarly to Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare).
V E R D I C T
I mean there are a lot of plot twists in the later third, and I’m so glad I kept reading until then to get the final pay off. There’s so much more I could say, but this review is already long enough Overall, I enjoyed the story – we were supplied with a nice rounded of ending to the series – it just wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, and I wish it hadn’t taken me so long to read, which is why I’ve only given Mortal Heart 3 stars.