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Summary and book reviews of The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke

The Boneless Mercies

by April Genevieve Tucholke

The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke X
The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Oct 2018, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2020, 368 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Jordan Lynch
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About this Book

Book Summary

Full of fierce girls, bloodlust, tenuous alliances, and unapologetic quests for glory, this elegantly spun tale challenges the power of storytelling - and who gets to be the storyteller.

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.

ONE

They say dying makes you thirsty, so we always gave our marks one last drink.

I reached for the flask of black currant Vite I carried in my pocket and put it to her mouth. "Here," I said. "Drink this, lamb."

She took a long sip. I pulled the flask away and wiped a drop from her lips. They felt plump and warm under my fingers, like a red plum in August just picked from the tree. I called all our marks lamb. Even the big ones with thick beards and hands the size of boulders. Even the mean ones with cold, shriveled hearts and dried blood under their fingernails. This lamb was neither.

She was covered in black silk, head to toe. The silk clung to her curves and moved lightly through the air as if woven from soft summer breezes. I wanted to touch it. I wanted to wear it. Our thick Vorse wool and furs and leather kept us warm, but they were utilitarian and plain next to her delicate dress.

"You're from Iber." Runa stared at the woman's clothing as well.

The woman nodded. "I grew ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The Boneless Mercies is an epic fantasy filled with fierce heroines, strong friendships, and a quest for greatness. Their friendships are realistic and moving; there are moments of joy and laughter, as well as tension and anger, but there's a true sense of camaraderie underlying it all...continued

Full Review (617 words).

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(Reviewed by Jordan Lynch).

Media Reviews

NPR
Perhaps most intriguing is an ongoing conflict between the rival groups of witches encountered by our would-be heroes — swamp and sea witches caught up in an ancient struggle for power. There is room in this world for more than one epic, and we can hope that Tucholke will return to it to tell us more about this ongoing feud. The true strength of Boneless Mercies lies in the places where Tucholke diverts from the story we already know and populates her fantasy Viking world with rich and imaginative digressions.

Shelf Awareness
April Genevieve Tucholke's genderbent Beowulf is as dark and quietly mysterious as the fantastical winter in which it takes place. Her alternate Scandinavia is a land of powerful magics and eerie landscapes, bloodlust and genuine, deep friendships, that is full of foreboding, menace and eventual (though not unfettered) glory.

Booklist
[T]his story heroically contemplates female strength and agency, compassion versus vengeance, and the value of glory.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Tucholke injects close intimacy into her lush saga, interweaving love and murder, mercy and glory into her portrayal of life and death. It is a beautiful, haunting modern-day epic that stars a bold and resourceful sisterhood of heroines unafraid to claim agency.

School Library Journal
Starred Review. An excellent choice for any YA fantasy collections.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. These fierce, honorable adolescent female warriors hold their own and break all the rules. Marked by flawless worldbuilding. Wow.

Barnes & Noble Teen Blog
In a Norse-influenced fantasy land that pulses with history, magic, and mythology, Tucholke spins a haunting story of four girls seizing their fate, and living lives large enough to achieve the level of legend.

Author Blurb Melissa Albert, New York Times-bestselling author of The Hazel Wood
The Boneless Mercies maintains the mystical, haunting flavor of an ancient ballad across the length of a novel. Its every page hints at a deeper magic at work; it contains a whole world and all its myths and histories within its skin.

Author Blurb Samantha Shannon, New York Times-bestselling author of The Bone Season
Ruthless and lyrical, heart-warming and blood-chilling, and beautifully redolent of ancient tales and history. It will sing to a new generation of heroes.

Author Blurb Laini Taylor, New York Times-bestselling author of Strange the Dreamer
Fierce and glorious, this story of outcast girls defying fate utterly bewitched me. Tucholke is a gorgeous writer.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Freya, the Norse Goddess of Love, Fertility, War & Death

The Norse goddess Freya wearing her necklace BrísingamenThe Boneless Mercies is based on the classic Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf, a sweeping tale of heroes, monsters and epic battles influenced by the culture and mythology of sixth-century Scandinavia. While there are no gods or goddesses in Beowulf, there are references to mythological heroes like Sigmund of the Völsunga saga (a Norse epic poem) and Weland, the legendary blacksmith. The Boneless Mercies is set in the Norse-inspired Vorseland, and its central protagonist, Frey, is Genevieve Tucholke's take on the Norse goddess Freya, evident in the character's dual roles as a warrior and a bringer of death.

Typically known and revered as the goddess of love and fertility, Freya was also a powerful sorceress and the ruler of Fólkvangr, ...

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