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. Perfect for fans of Maggie Stiefvater, V. Schwab, and Heidi Heilig. Her group contains three others — Runa, Ovie and Juniper. Kickass female characters are my favourite to read about, and this group is entirely that.
Each character is wonderfully different, April has created a world with so much diversity that it really adds to the story in general. Runa was my absolute favourite, she was such a headstrong character but at the same time like the other three from the group she remained faithful to the Mercies throughout, even when she had the opportunity to go her separate way. Whilst between jobs, Frey has the idea that they could set out on a quest to kill a beast which has been murdering villagers in Blue Vee Valley.
On the way they meet the Sea Witches which is the group Juniper came from and the leader, Hush, makes Frey an offer to kill another witch queen in order to help her on her quest to kill the beast. Women had a fair bit of standing in the world too but this was definitely amplified towards the end by the actions of the Mercies — previous ballads and stories were of brave men only but they found that their story had gained them glory. Frey only really wanted glory from the quest but she gained so many friendships along the way and you could tell this really helped to shape her.
Will you be preordering this? You can't! Not because of me…" She now had a panic look in her eyes, worried that her rash move caused her two best friends to drop a class. Now, it's our turn to support you. You were right: she was insulting you. Malfoy does enough of that for everyone. Hermione seemed a little lost facing such support. She started to walk again, turning her back to them, trying to wipe her wet eyes discreetly. Later, the Gryffindor trio sat in the common room, weighing their options.
McGonagall couldn't be partial, but her smile when they said they quit a divination class in the middle and were not going back told them otherwise. She simply gave them sheets with descriptions of alternative courses. At least, I'll understand what dad is always babbling about and even be able to show him some. Take it too, Harry! You're muggle raised!
This is going to be so easy, we'll ace this! Ron realized what he just said a bit too late. Harry's eyes narrowed. He didn't like that assumption at all. Hermione's mouth was slowly opening and her eyes were squinting. Was she going to cry? To yell? They'd never know. Harry's calm but frosting tone beat her to it. Don't think I can do it? I mean, yes! I mean…I've got nothing against Runes, mate! I'm not doubting you or anything! I'm just… I just thought…". Then the news got up to her brain. You missed the introductory course last year so we have to find a way to make it up so you can join in with the other third years.
Of course I'll help you all I can. Hermione tugged him to get up, took his hand and dragged him toward the exit of the common room. Harry looked back at Ron pitifully, who looked back smugly, waving his hand in their direction. A list of books in hand, Harry got out of Professor Babbling's office with an excited Hermione chatting next to him. He was glad that Runes weren't Ron's thing since the books seemed to be horribly expensive.
Not that it was a problem to him but even then, Hermione and he agreed it would be better to look for used books. There was no sense in upsetting Ron about his family's financial state by parading around with a bunch of new things. The Runes teacher was delighted to have him in her class. She said that amongst the ones taking the course, very few actually managed good results and more than one dropped it when they realized they had no aptitude.
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If Harry showed any talent, the professor would gladly help him to get to level with the other students, even if it took over one year. Harry could use his period freed of Divination to catch up. Then, he would join the introductory course of Runes with the second-year students. If all went really well, and he doubled the number of hours the second-year students put on it in his free time he, maybe, could join Hermione's class by the end of the year.
Harry was a little reluctant to join a class full of students a year younger than him, but agreed nonetheless. The professor even lent him the course books until he purchased his own. That evening, Hermione convinced him it would be a good thing to start an introduction to the course. Ron grunted and put back the chessboard in its wooden box knowing they would not get to play that particular evening. Harry didn't feel like saying anything that would start another row between those two. When he saw Hermione starting to spread books all around them, he took a serious tone.
We'll start this now but it's the first and last evening I'll actually take a 'Rune Class'.
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Don't make it a habit. She looked at him, outraged that anyone would refuse taking some free time to get ahead in a class, but she saw Ron's small smile behind Harry. He was trying hard not to look at her. She nodded, not arguing for once, and sat down with Harry at her side. Let's begin an overview of the course itself.
The OWLs goals are to know every runes we work with and their effects. You also have to know their effects when placed beside another. It's like learning a new alphabet and knowing how to make a three-letter word. It's very simple in fact. I'm sorry, but that's kinda hard. On top of that, you have to learn the new alphabet from scratch, not knowing the word that can be formed with it.
Maybe it's easy for you, Hermione, but…". If you want to discuss it, take the course and come back to me for a study session! She let a small smile escape her lips. Ron let a huge sigh out and closed his book. He fished in his school bag a new roll of parchment, a quill and a bottle of ink. Hermione looked at him, curious. If you're going to be talking about work all evening, I'm as well to start my own Muggle Studies assignment.
Hermione looked at him, unbelieving. Ron doing homework? Without being prompted to do it? She turned back to Harry with wide eyes. Surprisingly, they managed to get something done that evening. Even with Hermione always trying to jump a little too far ahead. They covered two Runes extensively. Harry found a trick to classify the particularities of the runes by comparing them to old Viking and Greek gods he read about in a book once.
Not that he remembers much about them, but more of their concept. Each of them had a specialty, a territory. Each of them had a personality that fit their specialization. Ron was so much engrossed in his own work he didn't hear any of that. Hermione, on her hand, was puzzled. She never thought of that this way. Runes were runes! They did what they did! They were not alive! She figured that if Harry found it easier to remember them like that, why not? Time passed, as it usually does, with its ups and downs. Harry practised Quidditch, but could not go to Hogsmeade as he still lacked the Dursley's written authorization.
Of course, the fact that he practically changed his aunt into an inflated carnival attraction might explain it. He guessed he could try to pass the dementors with his cloak but the Weasley twins thought otherwise. They gave him a special map that was invaluable. Harry mused, once again, how lucky he was to be friends with the Weasleys. Following his friend, he had quite some fun playing the invisible ghost, scarring Draco and his stooges.
Still, he was getting tired of the Slytherin always bugging them unprovoked. Unfortunately, his little escapade to Hogsmeade wasn't all fun and games.
Eavesdropping on a private conversation his teachers were having, he found out about Sirius Black, the escaped convict that Ron's father warned him about at the start of the year. He realized, remembering the taunting Draco threw his way on the Hogwarts Express this year, that the story was well known in the Wizarding world, but had been kept from him on purpose. For his own good, of course. He decided right there and then that he would avenge his parents if he had the chance.
He could not go against his promise not to chase after Black. Harry respected Arthur Weasley and didn't want to betray the man, but, in a moment of clarity, he realized he would not have to. Black was looking for him. If he was good enough to escape a prison full of dementors, a few of them would not keep him from Harry.
When he'd show up, he would be ready. I guess that's all of 'em. Hermione looked at the ceiling, as if praying the gods to help her. Anyone knowing her would think she's exasperated. To Harry and Ron, it's just a habit she took when studying with them. Do you remember all the runes by now? The memory of the first one probably faded by now. Then why don't you tell me which runes we covered in the first two weeks? And he did. In detail. Spilling all their signification's, known origin and possible uses. After the first one, Hermione looked around to make sure there was not a book open around them, giving him all the answers.
After the third, she stopped searching, seeing his eyes looking at her, through her in fact. It's as if he saw the runes right before his eyes. After the tenth one, he stopped. Hermione was speechless, for two whole minutes. Ron was the first to break the silence between them three in the common room.
Harry burst in laughter as Hermione threw a dirty look to Ron. The latter was suddenly looking away, paying great attention at the description of the muggle monetary system in his book. One hour later, they got through the thick textbook describing the runes alphabet. Hermione looked even more flabbergasted. That was intense Harry. You're more than ready to face the second-year class.
You're even ahead of them! I'll tell Professor Babbling so you can join the class next week. Hermione began gathering her own first year books of Runes and stuffed them away. Harry stretched and went to Ron. Have the muggle accepted you in their secret society yet? Harry started laughing and Ron frowned. Having no intention to irk him, Harry started talking about something he was sure his friend would like. In fact, they had more than one. They are known to exist, or at least they existed in the past, but the identities of the members, their goals and way of getting to them are mostly a secret.
Let me tell you of the little I know about it. Let say… the Stone Cutters. At the end of that free study session, Ron believed that muggles, unmagical as they may be, could do some pretty cool stuff. In the next days, he tried to find books about secret muggle organizations but, for once, at the greatest shock of the resident bookworm, it was one of Hogwarts's library weaknesses. A few days later, Harry began the second year's books. He had so much fun looking at how some runes affected others! But even then, what he saw in the books was so…stiff.
He'd have to find books from different authors to check out if they were all like that. Harry figured that if his progress in runes could keep on going like that, it could be a cool sideline for a job later. Right after professional Quidditch player, of course. When talking with Professor McGonagall about his new schedule, he asked how much he could earn as a Rune Writer or Designer and what kind of work goes with that particular branch of magic. He was surprised by her answer. The rarity of Rune Crafters meant that even the less talented earned as much as an experienced Auror, the wages just got better for talented Crafters.
A truly gifted one could earn more than a Quidditch star without the risks of injuries. Harry never was so happy to have left Divination. He was currently in the empty common room, enjoying the quiet of his free Divination class. Ron was at his Muggle study class on his new schedule and Hermione… Well, he wondered where she was in fact since she wasn't in Divination. She had a weird schedule that showed two classes at the same hour!
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I smiled. View all 5 comments. It was okay enough! Once upon a time, in the final days before Salt and Marsh Witch War, four Boneless Mercies turned their backs on the death trade, and went west, seeking immortality. This freaking book broke my heart in so many ways I don't even know where to start talking about it. Badass assassin girls are my weakness and The Boneless Mercies doesn't only have the bestest cast of characters I've ever read about, it's also gifted with an impressively tormented, impactful and visual writing.
When I first read Once upon a time, in the final days before Salt and Marsh Witch War, four Boneless Mercies turned their backs on the death trade, and went west, seeking immortality. When I first read the synopsis, I so wanted to like this book, yet I went into it very carefully because I almost expect it to be a flash in the pan that couldn't live up the hype that was created around it like it happens very often in cases like these.
But guess what? This book is great, even way too great for its own hype. At this point, you'd think their male counterparts would be the mediocre and weak ones, but that's where you'd be wrong. Though less relevant, they're still important to the plot and the development of the MC's. And why not, even their own, even if the story doesn't revolve around them. There's honestly nothing - nothing!
Yeah, I know I didn't. I just read it and I'm still holding the actual book in my hands like the fuming weapon it is, but you get what I mean. It's incredible. Too incredible. There's a mild hint of romance if you can call it this way in case you're asking, but it's so mild and hidden among the various friendship, women adoration and heart-wrenching plots and twists, even those who aren't particularly interested in the romantic side of a novel would truly appreciate.
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If romance is your everyday bread, well, you might end up starving a little but I promise you it's not a priority. April Genevieve Tucholke owns the English language like I own my inability to stop eating so many fries. She can create a mood and she surely can set up a freaking scene. Pure art. I still shiver thinking about it.
She also seems immune to the need of writing Mary Sue characters in favor of creating complex, flawed and morally gray ones, and she's not afraid of exploring themes and dynamics only someone with undeniable talent would dare engage in. In case you didn't get the memo, I am in love with her writing.
I wanna woo it and marry it under a started blue sky on a hot summer night. AGT's became a new absolute favorite and all it took her was something less then pages and the courage to write what really was in her heart. I stan. TW: gore, lots of killing, drug use. PS: I shamelessly added my bookstagram pic at the top because I'm again shamelessly proud of how pretty it looks and even prouder to share with you all that gorgeous biker lady poster my adorable bestie sent my way!
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View all 10 comments. Oct 23, Acqua rated it it was amazing Shelves: fantasy , loved-it , ya , retelling , best-mcs , no-romance , arc , assassin , zfavs , swr. I liked Wink Poppy Midnight for its weirdness and had mixed feelings on Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea , and this one might be my favorite one of the three. The Boneless Mercies is, at its heart, a story about friendships. Even in YA books that are supposedly about friendships, the romance almost always ends up overshadowing the friendships. Because in YA fiction, friendships are static and boring and one-dimensional, while romance gets the development.
Not here. This is the only book I know that not only doesn't fall in the "this is just friendship" trap, but reverses it. When the main character is asked whether she's in a relationship with a guy, she answers that they're friends. And the other person answers "so it's deeper, then" or something like that and it was so beautiful to see. It's also a sex-positive story. There's no romance, but the main character sleeps with a man she's not in a relationship with, and again, I almost never see this in YA fiction. The Boneless Mercies is the story of four women looking for a future in a world in which they're forced to wander as outcasts.
It's about striving for more while never belonging, about seeking glory. The main characters aren't forced to face peril by circumstances: they look for it. They find it, and they go through it together. I don't remember the last time I saw that in a YA book. Maybe I never did, especially not in a book with a mostly-female cast, and it was so refreshing.
I hadn't realized how used I was to passive main characters. As I now expect from April Genevieve Tucholke, this book was beautifully written and atmospheric. It has the kind of writing that makes you feel the wind, the snow, the smell of saltwater; that makes you feel as if you're getting lost in the marshes too, as if you're wandering in the mist with the characters. Some described this book as slow-paced and incomplete, and I see why, but I don't think this story would have worked if it had been written like most YA fantasy books.
It's creepy and bloody and dark, but it's mostly sad , and I think many didn't like that. But this is not a story about defeating a beast and falling in love in the process, this is a story about looking for your place in an unwelcoming, changing world, about the uncertainty of it all. The way it feels so distant and so close at the same time is exactly what made it feel like a myth and not just like another retelling that kept the bones of the story but not the heart of it. There's something nostalgic about it, and I think that's the way it should be.
For something that felt very distant, it sure made me feel a lot of things. It's been a long while since a character death affected me this much, as I find most of them cop-outs. I loved her a lot. Probably the least developed of the five, but still great. She went through a lot, she just wants to leave. An awesome character. Deserves every good thing. I didn't think this book was perfect - I thought that changing words like "Norse" to "Vorse" and "Valhalla" to "Holhalla" felt more cheesy than anything - but it was everything I wanted Sky in the Deep to be earlier this year, and I'm glad I found a book inspired by Norse mythology about female warriors I actually liked.
I did kind of want this book to be gayer. Listen, there was so much sapphic subtext here , but as there was no romance at all, I'm not even mad it just remained subtext. Also, at some point the main character says she wouldn't be mad if Trigve decided to spend the night with a healer girl because she'd do the same thing and I know, I wouldn't recommend this as a queer book as it's a blink-or-miss thing, but there's no heterosexual explanation for this. Frey is totally bi. Four female mercenaries kicking butt and slaying monsters?
I am in! Jun 15, Melissa rated it it was amazing. It's the story of an all-women pack of paid mercy killers winding through a Norse-influenced fantasy world on their way to slaying the marauding Blue Vee Beast, thus earning fame, glory, and enough money to leave their old lives behind. But more than that it's about the world Tucholke creates, which sings with glimpses of mythology and history and plant lore and dead kings and lost goddesses and long-ago battles and people passed out of memory. It feels lived in and deeply magical. View 1 comment. Oct 04, TL rated it liked it.
Characters: 4 stars Writing: 3 to 2. The bond between the girls and Trigve. The Sea Witches home The mythology she creates, blending with some known ones. So-so's: I was interested enough to keep reading but at times I could feel my eyes glazing over and there were times I would look at the book and think Do I really want to pick this up. I did get bored and push myself through some of this Sep 20, Susan Kennedy rated it really liked it Shelves: giveaways-won-all , fantasy , giveaways-won.
I would give this one 4 solid stars. It was well written and I enjoyed the story. I also enjoyed the character development. I wasn't sure going in what this one would be like, but I was pleasantly surprised by the story and the characters. It was different and a bit dark, which I found pleasurable. This was a story full of adventure and with girls as the main characters. They were brave and strong and together they were a family even though they were as different as night and day.
I enjoyed gett I would give this one 4 solid stars. I enjoyed getting to know each character and their histories. I felt the character development was well done and I grew more attached to them as their stories unfolded. I loved that they were all so different yet molded together into an incredible family circle. The author was great at developing these characters while keeping the story moving at a steady pace.
The story was full of adventure and it never left you bored or waiting for more. It was always moving. This was really well done. Some parts I loved but somehow it wasn't enough at all. I wanted 4 POVs. I wanted more charactarization. I wanted more action. I wanted to get spooked. I wanted more info. Just more of everything! View 2 comments. Oct 13, Rae rated it it was amazing. So Soooo good!! Full review soon! The pacing is off, with scenes just blending into one another without any sort of definition; there is a fair amount of fast-forwarding in key scenes, and a little too much telling without showing.
The characters are interesting, distinct, and fairly remarkable in their own way — but they have to carry the whole story, and even with all their strengths I really, really wanted to like this book. Nov 12, Amy libraryofamy rated it it was amazing Shelves: all-time-faves. I am woman, wanderer, and warrior.
This is not the end of my story. The Boneless Mercies is a standalone fantasy novel that is not only a gender-swapped retelling of Beowulf , but a completely unique and beautifully written story that is one of the best new releases I've read this year. I've seen little to no conversation about this book, which leads me to believe it is severely underrated and y'all are missing out by not picking this up. I adored The Boneless Mercies. It's beautifully written, p I am woman, wanderer, and warrior. It's beautifully written, perfectly plotted and paced, and I adored the characters.
For a standalone fantasy novel thats only a little over pages, I was blown away by the depth Tucholke was able to achieve so flawlessly when creating this story and world. Seriously, y'all, this book is beautiful. This is the first book I've ever annotated, and I am so glad the universe fated me to do it with this book.
I have a ridiculous amount of tabs for so many different reasons, most of them being for beautifully written passages, incredible imagery, or moments that just spoke to my soul. I saw so much of myself in these characters; lonely, beautiful wanderers just looking for a purpose, looking for something more. I think it's something a lot of young adult readers can resonate with.
The plot to this book was so unique and I absolutely loved it. I thought the ending was wrapped up perfectly. I was a little nervous that some things would fall to the wayside, but Tucholke managed to wrap it up at the very end in a way that was satisfying and believable. I liked that the ending was open enough for a potential sequel. I don't really think this book needs one, and I don't think the author actually plans to write one--as far as I know; but it's nice that she left it open enough for the reader to guess at what each character's future holds.
I thought the pacing was lovely, and I actually loved that there was kind of two or three independent plots that occurred within the overarching story itself. It felt like a true epic journey novel , which was obviously the intention considering it's a Beowulf retelling. Now I have to go and read Beowulf , don't I I guess my only complaint is that I wish it was longer! I wish I got even more of this world and these characters. I loved the magic system and how it didn't overpower the story, merely added to it. I loved how everything was so deeply connected to nature, and how freeing it felt to be lost in the pages while reading.
I wish I could travel to Vorseland myself, if only to feel its chilling wind on my own skin. There was also a certain eerie element to it, especially in the middle of the book. I just loved the world so much and really hope Tucholke writes more books in this world, even if it isn't necessarily a sequel to this book. I was also pleasantly surprised by the lack of romance.
The author could have very easily took it there, could have very easily made it a love triangle, but it was clear the main character did not need that to hold her own. If anything, it would detract from her story, and I loved that the author recognized that.
I mean, of course I wished there was some more making out, who doesn't? But it was also super refreshing to see a band of female characters who literally don't ever need men for anything ever. I felt more sexual tension between the female characters then I did between them with the male characters, and I really wish that had got to be actually explored.
But it's okay. Someday I'll get my lesbian warrior romance, just not today. And the characters. Wow, I enjoyed them so much. My bisexuality was alive and well in this book. I had a crush on nearly every character, especially the main character, Frey. The amount of times I tabbed and wrote "HOT! Every character was so interesting, and not only did they have a great dynamic throughout the story, but they all also had heartbreaking backstories that genuinely made me understand and care for them.
I just want more of them! I want a standalone for every character, I want them all to be happy and beautiful and I want to follow them forever. Even the "evil" characters I really enjoyed and want more of. Now that I think of it, I seriously wonder if there will be sequel.