Page Count 352
Publication date October 2018/ Publisher Simon & Schuster
Price £3.99 Purchased From: Amazon Kindle (25/12/18)
They called us the Mercies, or sometimes the Boneless Mercies. They said we were shadows, ghosts, and if you touched our skin we dissolved into smoke …
Frey, Ovie, Juniper, and Runa are Boneless Mercies – death-traders, hired to kill quickly, quietly and mercifully. It is a job for women, and women only. Men will not do this sad, dark work.
Frey has no family, no home, no fortune, and yet her blood sings a song of glory. So when she hears of a monster slaughtering men, women, and children in a northern jarldom, she decides this the Mercies’ one chance to change their fate.
But glory comes at a price …
I wasn’t enthused with this book to begin with. I’ve seen a very mixed reception to this tale from other reviewers but I went in hopeful because I remember enjoying Beowulf in school and this story was pegged as a female retelling.
My initial problem was having so many characters thrown at me from the off, it was hard to keep their names and appearances straight in my mind. It felt a little like being the new girl in a conversation with a group of people who already knew each other. They use some unfamiliar language and refer to their own history without any context. I stuck with it and you do get a nice little backstory for each character in what Tucholke calls ‘sagas’- kind of like a bed time fairytale or a legend sung by a bard. I came to enjoy these short sub plots as the book went on, particularly Runa’s as it is hers we wait longest to discover.
The book centres around strong female characters- witches, archers, giants and warriors. We follow the boneless mercies on a quest to become something more than what is expected of them. It was refreshing to read a tale where women are the leaders, the saviours of men and not ridiculed or questioned for their choices.
Written in the past tense point of view from our main character Frey, the pace picks up pretty quickly and each character has a detailed if not predictably stereotyped personality. There’s a wonderful thread of friendship, loyalty and respect throughout this tale, the mercies have a beautiful bond with each other and their selfless support of one another was prevalent throughout. I’m not one for romance and although I’ll abide it as a sideline I was pleased to find that this kind of emotion was minimal and certainly not integral to the story.
I’d like to see this book adapted to movie as it’s exactly the kind of fantasy adventure I’d enjoy watching and the world building included some beautiful fictional locations.
I won’t say the prose was at all deep or meaningful, but the story was a heart warmer and I finished this easy read in just one day.
If you liked this you might also enjoy The Twisted Tree by Rachel Burge, I’m loving magical snowscape fantasies lately and these both hit the mark.