Title: The Boneless Mercies
Author: April Genevieve Tucholke
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.
I’ve had this book on my library loan list for a long time, since before it actually came out, so when I saw it on the shelf at my local library, I checked it out. When I realized I couldn’t renew it anymore, I pushed it to the top of my stack, as soon as I finished Black Wings Beating. I have a literary confession to make: I hate Beowulf, the classic old English epic that this book is inspired by. In theory, it sounded like something I would love, but for some reason, I hated it. The Boneless Mercies built on the bones of Beowulf, telling the tale of The Boneless Mercies, young women who take lives for a price. But their leader, Frey, longs for more than the lonely life of a killer, however merciful. When she hears rumors of a dangerous, deadly beast taking lives in the mountains, she leaps at the chance to slay it and become the legend she yearns to be. But even the most legendary make sacrifices for their notoriety, and Frey must decide if she can pay the price.
Frey is the leader of The Boneless Mercies, and she and her friends take lives as mercifully as they can. But despite herself, she does not feel fulfilled by her lot, and she’s not the only one feeling restless. When rumors reach her ears of a vicious, monstrous beast in Blue Vee, taking lives indiscriminately, Frey and her companions must undertake their most dangerous quest yet, through marshes and forests, crossing paths with witches and wicked jarls and kind archers. But Frey must decide if it’s worth seeing their journey through, or she might just lose everything she stands to gain…
This book was a dark, gorgeous, beautiful epic that rang true of the original. I loved the way that the author took Beowulf and turned it on its head. The prose was beautiful, the pacing breakneck; I was immediately spellbound by Frey’s voice and the brutal, beautiful world that she and her friends lived in. I also adored Frey’s steadfast, wonderful friends, especially Juniper, Runa, and Ovie. My favorite thing about the book was the way it portrayed a classic quest. I was transfixed until the shocking, bittersweet ending. I’m not sure if this book has a sequel in the works, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed nonetheless! At times, there were so many characters that it got a little hard to keep track of them all; I almost wish there had been a dramatis personae at the beginning of the book for a reference. But regardless, this book is one of my favorites of last year, and it might be my favorite of Tucholke’s whole body of work; it was amazing. The bottom line: Fierce, brutal, and beautiful, I loved The Boneless Mercies! Next on deck: How to Fracture a Fairy Tale by Jane Yolen!