cover image The Boneless Mercies

The Boneless Mercies

April Genevieve Tucholke. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $18.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-374-30706-6

In this evocative fantasy loosely inspired by Beowulf, four young women who have devoted their lives to ritual mercy killing as “Mercies” or “Boneless Mercies” decide to give up that sad, dark work in favor of more satisfying pursuits: honor, glory, and a chance at appearing in legend. In order to earn enough money to do as they will, 17-year-old Frey and her companions swear a blood oath to slay the fabled Blue Vee Beast, which cyclically terrorizes a local jarldom. As the Mercies journey across Vorseland, threats and temptations test them repeatedly, and they must choose between quiet safety and death-defying heroism. Frey’s fittingly lyrical voice narrates her band’s exploits (“The marsh was death, and this was life. Apple liquor on the tongue, drying herbs scenting the air”). Tucholke (Wink Poppy Midnight) 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. Ages 12–up. [em]Agent: Tracey Adams, Adams Literary. (Oct.) [/em]