The Boneless Mercies, April Tucholke

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I was a Mercy-girl with no family, no home, no fortune, and yet my blood sang a song of 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.

* * * *
4 / 5

I love stories about girls who want glory. Girls with knives and fear and sisterhood and battle cries on their lips who want the world to know their name. Frey wants to give up her life as a Mercy, a killer, and hunt glory instead. Feel the blood of monsters on her knives rather than the blood of men and women who want to die. And I loved her and her whole crew of wonderfully different, diverse ladies and their deranged quest.

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. They have a job that very few envy and yet their services are taken up across the land. They kill those that are too sick, that want to die, and sometimes, just sometimes, those who deserve it. They are friends, bound in blood and duty and gore, and their relationships with each other and themselves are deep and complicated. There’s also a guy tagging alone with them who lost his family, who roves with a clan of killing women because he has nowhere else to call home. He and Frey are lovers, but they are friends first, and it’s a lovely sensitive relationship that is quite unlike the normal stock YA romances.

More than that though, Frey has glory singing in her blood. She wants her name to be known across the land, to be remembered after her death. When something happens, she leads the Mercies to take on the most dangerous beast they have ever heard of. Frey is sad and desperate and violent and I loved her. They pick up their weapons and leave their tragic job behind them to seek out danger, which is when the action really gets going about halfway through.

I would try my hand at greatness, and see where it led. Glory. I wanted to touch it. Taste it. I wanted it so deeply I thought my heart would swell up, claw its way out of me

This book will not be for everyone. It is slow and sad and a little bit creepy. I thought it was melodic and beautiful, but that opinion won’t be shared by all. It was also very norse inspired, but was weird about it – it used “Vorse” instead of “Norse” and “Holhalla” instead of “Valhalla” and I didn’t really get the point. Why barely change it so obviously?? It was weird.

The Boneless Mercies was a wild and beautiful book. It has a few flaws, sure, but it was a wonderful standalone that stands out in a sea of cliche YA fantasy literature.

My thanks to Netgalley, the publisher, and the author for an ARC of The Boneless Mercies

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