Hello humans! Today I am fulfilling my wish from last week to continue reviewing witchy books even though October is long behind us now. I’ve seen The Boneless Mercies in quite a few bookshops lately (I think it’s in the Blackwells 3 for 2 at present) and it looked interesting and I was excited to read it.
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 loved the premise of this book, the idea of mercy killing being a job and a service that was an integral part of society definitely intrigued me. That was probably why I enjoyed the early parts of this book the most. I think the story would have benefitted from taking a bit more time on setting up the ‘normal’ before the changes came in and the characters had to do something different. There are stories of what the Boneless Mercies do scattered throughout the wider narrative, but I think having a touch more of that world/setting building in at the beginning of the book.
I think the reason I didn’t connect with this story in the way that I wanted to was large because I didn’t feel I could connect with the main character. I thought that Frey was, in theory, an interesting character, but her motivation seemed to boil down to ‘wanting to do something heroic’ and I’m not sure that’s enough to get me on side. This wouldn’t have been too much of a problem, as there are some great side characters in there, but since this book is written in first person it didn’t work for me. In part, that’s personal preference and someone who is more used to, or prefers to read first person, might have a better time of it than I did. Equally, I might place a greater importance on character motivation than others, to each their own.
I said there were witches and I haven’t really talked about it. In this case, this book draws from the Norse tradition, much like another book I’ve read recently, Rachel Burge’s The Twisted Tree. Clearly, Norse mythology is the topic to be talking about at present. I thought that the idea of a war between witches was interesting, again it needed a fraction more worldbuilding behind it to really feel like I understood what was happening and why.
As you might be able to tell, I didn’t have the best time reading this book. I think it’s one of those books that has moments of greatness, the final peak of action was extremely well-written, genuinely unexpected and very powerful, to make just one example. However, overall the book felt a little too piecemeal for me to feel like I could really get into the plot or care overly about what happened to the characters.
If you’re really into the concept of this story I do think you’ll enjoy it, but it’s not a book to go into halfheartedly as it does require close attention.
My rating: 3/5 stars
I received a free digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
What say you? Is this on your TBR? Is this one of your favourites? Let me know what I’m missing in the comments below!