*I received a copy of this title from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*
Title: The Boneless Mercies
Author: April Genevieve Tucholke
Publisher: Farrar, Strauss and Girous
Publication Date: October 2, 2018
Frey, Ovie, Juniper, and Runa are the Boneless Mercies—girls hired to kill quickly, quietly, and mercifully. But Frey is weary of the death trade and, having been raised on the heroic sagas of her people, dreams of a bigger life.
When she hears of an unstoppable monster ravaging a nearby town, Frey decides this is the Mercies’ one chance out. The fame and fortune of bringing down such a beast would ensure a new future for all the Mercies. In fact, her actions may change the story arc of women everywhere.
Review: The Boneless Mercies was an interesting story and I really enjoyed my time with it. This gender bent Beowulf retelling is full of monsters, magic, murder, and fierce females. It calls out all of the sexism and stereotypes in classic myth and literature and shines a new light on women as the hero.
This story also had some serious Anglo-Saxon/Norse vibes as well. Norse mythology was present, with the Gods being present in the characters’ lives. There was lots of sacrifice and ritual as well, serving larger plots throughout the book.
Frey and her Mercies deal in the death. They wander from town to town, seeking those who wish to die. When Frey hears of a monster terrorizing a town, she dreams of glory and heroism. She didn’t want to be a Mercy, but women aren’t given many options in life. So the four girls set out on a quest to defeat the beast and become heroes in their own right. They want to be remembered in death, not forgotten like all the women before them.
This was an easy read, but I will admit that it did start off slow. It took a while for the story to get moving, but once the action picked up and the plot started moving along, it was exciting to see where things would go. This book had a dark edge to it in terms of the witches, cults, and monsters. There are a lot of unique obstacles the girls have to go through before they can finish their quest.
If you love a darker fantasy retelling with a twist, then this book is for you. It’s an epic story of survival, kinship, and sacrifice. It’s definitely an empowering story for women and overall I really enjoyed the characters, the hint of romance, and the larger themes. The Boneless Mercies really makes you think about what or who is defined as a monster and what mercy really means.
Content Warning: self-harm, scenes of animal harm.