The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy by Megan Bannen
Reviewed by GGGinny
What I drank: I went “old school” and had a few white claws. I’ve upgrated my seltzer game recently (If you ever find the Press brand seltzer I absolutely suggest you try it).
Hart is a marshal, tasked with patrolling the strange and magical wilds of Tanria. It’s an unforgiving job, and Hart’s got nothing but time to ponder his loneliness.
Mercy never has a moment to herself. She’s been single-handedly keeping Birdsall & Son Undertakers afloat in defiance of sullen jerks like Hart, who seems to have a gift for showing up right when her patience is thinnest.
After yet another exasperating run-in with Mercy, Hart finds himself penning a letter addressed simply to “A Friend”. Much to his surprise, an anonymous letter comes back in return, and a tentative friendship is born.
If only Hart knew he’s been baring his soul to the person who infuriates him most – Mercy. As the dangers from Tanria grow closer, so do the unlikely correspondents. But can their blossoming romance survive the fated discovery that their pen pals are their worst nightmares – each other?
Drunk Overview: Hart is a demigod Marshall who tries to keep the zombie-like beings in line. Mercy runs the undertaking business for her father who recently suffered a hear attack. The two run into each other regularly, but have hated each other for years. Except… do they?
Drunk Thoughts: First off, loved the romance.
- Like, this is the perfect kind of enemies to lovers (for me)
- They hated each other due to a misunderstanding. And the misunderstanding made so much sense.
- Like trauma means that people act in ways they might not otherwise
- And from the outside it just seems like someone being an asshole.
- But then there’s also the world-building
- And this feels like such a fun world, I’d love another book set somehwere else.
- We get intricate death rituals (and Mercy cares SO MUCH about making sure that people are treated fairly in death – it’s kind of beautiful)
- And there are explanations about the new and old gods
- There’s an entire quasi-fantasy world
- And holy shit, the mail system is made up of immortal beings that are basically animals who can talk which is never really explained other than “shrug, gods”
- Like, what an interested world to plop a romance into.
- But also I’m a sucker for a book that uses mixed media . In this case the two main characters write letters to each other like pen pals (delivered by the immortal beings so even without a name it made sense).And these letters were wonderful!
- It can be so much easier to write things rather than say them, and this book captured it so WELL!
- There was so much longing in the letters – and I’m going to admit, I’m a lover of a fair bit of angst in a book. So when the letters stop – oooh, it was so good!
- And this book did secondary characters really well. Every single one of them felt like they had a life outside of being “the best friend” or the sibling”
- I love when characters have multiple people that t hey lean on. It always seems a bit cheap when someone only has one person they really care about. I know, I KNOW that it can be hard to make distinct characters, much less keep track of who is doing what, but that’s part of what makes it so important. I don’t know many people who only have one person they rely on. Occasionally seeing that in a book isn’t a problem (because I’m sure there are people out there that have one really strong relationship), but dear god, it happens in so many romance novels in particular…
- But yeah, I loved the sister, the dad, the ex-partner, the new partner. These characters added so much to the book.
- But back to the plot. I really enjoyed the way in continued on throughout the romance. Even when things were going really well between our main characters there was still plot stuff in the background.
- And I liked the way the foreshadowing earlier in the book came back into play.
- I know I’ve talked a lot about the positive, but I would also like to say that there were parts of this book taht felt like debut novel. – Specifically an overusage of description while people were talking.
- There are a few points in this book where I had to stop and just stare at the page because the description (giggled, sobbed) just didn’t quite fit with the character and the context.
- I’m not going to say that it was a huge issue (clearly I loved this book) but it was something that took me out of the reading in a way that doesn’t often happen to me.
- Look, I read a lot, and I’ve read plenty of things that I love where the writing isn’t particularly strong (look at my love of the Host by Stephanie Meyer (where my head automatically ages up the characters by 5 years because otherwise it’s genuinely distressing)). But it’s rare in those that the mistakes will take me out of the reading (again, read the fact that I automatically age them up – 16, nah that’s weird, they’re like 22). But there was just something a bit jarring about some of the word choices.
- But back to, I love the themes about having to stand up for yourself in a family full of people who are trying to do what they think is best for you, and reviewing your past to better understand your idols.
- This book had characters who were required to do some self reflection, and they both undertook that in ways that were difficult, but also kind of smart (once they realized the need).
- I love books where the things that were most frustrating about the character end up being the areas they learn to grow.
What it Pairs With: Cranberry and Vodka. Something bright and easy to drink.