The Boneless Mercies is the kind of atmospheric book that you just want to soak in.
I love the contrast of it being about these four girls who do literal “mercy” killings for sick people — but yet it’s so beautiful written with ethereal settings at time. It’s like: HEY THIS IS PRETTY and also HEY THERE IS DEATH! Like way to go for this combo.
This is only my second read by this author, and I loved her book Wink Poppy Midnight. Although that’s magical realism so I confess I thought The Boneless Mercies was going to be too. And then it’s like BAM. No this is epic fantasy. Apparently a Beowulf retelling?? But I have 0% clue what that is (ALL THE ENGLISH MAJORS JUST SCREAMED AT ME) so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Let me live in my ignorance.
It’s also a standalone which is cool! I don’t think we get enough standalone fantasies.
SOME THINGS YOU CAN EXPECT
★ the four girls are killers bUT they are also soft™
★ it has a viking/Norse setting!!
★ there are witches, so so many witches, and they are the sweetest OR will stab you
★ get you a witch that can do both
★ there are also monsters and curses
★ even though the girls do “mercy” killings, they will occasionally off an abusive man or two, which…ya know…have at it
★ there is a lot of snow
★ there is also a very soft™ boy who just wants to learn to heal things while the girls stab things
★ friends who slay together stay together
Let’s talk about our band of Mercy killer girls, shall we?!
It’s told in 1st person by Freya but there is quite a big cast. Plus they’re travelling so hello lots of strangers on the road. I actually am not a huge fan of huge casts because I get very very confused very very easily. You should see me try to name my 7 nieces and nephews (spoiler: I cannot). Anyway it was intense meeting a group of 5 right in page one. And while I really grew to love the group, I never felt like I got to know anyone. Possibly because it’s a small book —> but big world.
- FREY: She’s the most selfless Gryffindor of ever. KILL THE BAD THINGS! SAVE THE GOOD PEOPLE! I admired her but I confess I didn’t really connect/care about her.
- RUNA: She is the feisty one. She has bitten you, she will bite you again. Contrary and epic, so I loved her.
- OVIE: She is so quiet, like that steady rock in a steady stream. IDK that’s it though.
- JUNIPER: Okay here is my acTUAL GORGEOUS SOFT SWEET TREASURE. She is a sea witch and so kind! So sweet! She is the youngest of the group and basically everyone is like “THERE IS DANGER STAB IT” and Juniper is like “or we could befriend it and pray” so bless Juniper.
- TRIGVE: He’s the sole boy of the group (not allowed to be a mercy killer) nad the absolutely literally picked him up off the side of the road like their mopey puppy. He is so soft and everytime they tell him to go get a life he is like: “but I love you all I have to stay.” And then gives them puppy dog eyes. (Ok the last bit I just made up BUT I FEEL LIKE HE WOULD.)
I also really appreciated the Norse setting! The world was huge and harsh and beautiful! The book was like a peek through a window into a world you just get to see the edge of. It’s a style I don’t encounter much, so I was intrigued. It’s so vast and it throws people of different religions and nationalities at you, and then adds in dozens of countries and groups too. I loved the Quicks, who felt like Robin Hood type guys! They go through many towns. There’s magic! There’s poverty. There’s the hint of war. There’s oppression because of your sex or birthright. It was all very very interesting, but at times overwhelming because it just touched the surface???
My only real disappointments were: (1) it could have had epic sapphic rep and it absolutely felt like it was leading up to it !!! only to…dissolve. And (2) what romance was there completely baffled me.
This is the story of witches and bones and honeyed bread and curses and whippings and axes and marshes and gold and justice.
It is literally a delicious feast for the eyes with the writing! It’s so beautiful! I wanted to get to know the characters deeper but apart from that?!? A fantasy that is both pretty and harsh. AND THAT COVER THO AHHH.
Thank you to Simon & Schuster for the review-copy. The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke was published October 2018.
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 …