Written by: April Genvieve Tucholke
Published: October 8, 2018 by Farrar Straus Giroux (Macmillan)
Synopsis: A dark standalone YA fantasy about a band of mercenary girls in search of female glory.
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.
This book was a really solid meh for me. I had heard some mixed reviews but my friend Michelle who never reads fantasy actually liked it so when I needed something new to read I let Twitter decide and this one was the winner. But, I just don’t think it was my kind of read.
For one thing, this is a character driven fantasy. Much of the book is about the characters hunt for glory and then deciding where they should go and what they should do to fight for themselves and for others. A lot of people love that sort of thing but I do not. I don’t like travel and only in rare cases do I like when the characters drive the plot. This was not one of those cases. It felt like an incredibly slow read for me. Now don’t get me wrong, there was plenty of fights and pretty high stakes but it felt like I had to wait entirely too long to get to those parts. The book definitely built to an exciting climax but by that point I was just skimming to get to the battle scenes.
I’m also surprised that I didn’t like the characters more than I did. A band of female assassin’s! How could they be anything but amazing. And yeah, they were pretty badass. And yes, they kicked ass and took names. And the sisterhood and teamwork between them and some of the other female characters we meet along the way was amazing. But as individuals I just didn’t connect with them. I didn’t feel why Frey wanted glory. Hell, I even forgot her name at one point in the book. If you are going to have a character-driven novel to enjoy it, you really have to enjoy the characters and I didn’t.
On thing I did love however was the world. It’s a really atmospheric world that is perfect for the fall. Tucholke’s writing pulls you in and the locations come to life in your mind. I could perfectly picture the sea breezes and the witches that inhabited their shore. I could see the fields of reads and the women who lived and wrecked havoc among them. I could see the monsters and creatures that inhabited the woods and mountains. It is one of those fantasies that is visually beautiful. The world is inspired by Scandinavian culture and myth and that’s a setting I really enjoy so this book really checked all the boxes in that respect.
The other really interesting thing about this book is that it is a Beowulf retelling. A genderbent Beowulf retelling. I love a genderbent retelling. However, I have not read Beowulf so I can’t really speak to the book on that level. I’m curious what fans of the epic poem think about this book. It did kind of make me want to read that, so I guess that is something.
All in all, this was only an okay book for me. I loved the world but I found the plot a little too slow and I didn’t connect with the characters, which made the book all the more challenging because it’s a character-driven narrative.
I give Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke 7.5 out of 10 stars
Have you read Boneless Mercies? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!