Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.
Mercy Birdsall is an undertaker in Bushong, which borders Tanria, the former prison of the Old Gods. Hart Ralston is a marshal tasked with hunting down and destroying zombie-like drudges before they escape Tanria. Since drudges possess the corpses of those with intact appendixes, that means Hart needs undertaking services on a regular basis. The problem is, Hart and Mercy hate each other’s guts.
Hart keeps ending up at Birdsall & Son despite his feelings towards the prickly Mercy. He lost his beloved dog and hanging out with Leonard in the waiting area is his only pleasure in life. So he puts up with Mercy for the sake of her dog.
“Do you honestly believe that dogs don’t have souls? Have you ever met a dog who wasn’t a hundred times nicer than your average human being?”
“Exactly. Don’t insult dogs like that.”
Mercy’s trying to keep her family’s business going. Her father’s heart is weak and her brother isn’t exactly cut out to be an undertaker. She’s stressed and she’s lonely.
Hart is lonely too. At a particularly low point he writes a letter addressed to a friend, not expecting it to go anywhere. But the nimkilim are the former messengers of the gods, of course they can get a letter where it needs to go…and where it goes is to Mercy. Not knowing who the other is, they strike up a correspondence.
This was an charming enemies to lovers romance that also had fascinating fantasy world-building. I loved the care that Mercy takes with the bodies, the ritual and purpose of undertaking in this world is fully laid out. The nimkilim in this case are a talking owl and rabbit, who very much expect a tip.
Hart is supposedly the grumpy one and Mercy the sunshine one, who everyone but Hart adores. Yet I felt like Mercy was just as grumpy in her own way, and both of them stubborn
Maybe there’s a strange comfort in knowing that at least one person feels something for me, even if that feeling could best be described as hate.
I appreciated that it was just as much a story about the drudges as it was a romance. The numbers of untagged bodies is on the increase, meaning more work for marshals and undertakers alike. Yet Mercy is still a small business in competition with the big guys who would happily see Birdsall & Son go under. There’s so much more than the will they won’t they to keep you hooked.
The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy is published by Orbit Books and will be available in paperback, ebook and audiobook editions from the 25th August 2022. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.
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