There is no joy quite like, picking up a new book on a whim. And that book happened to be the fictional fantasy by April Genevieve Tulcholke, The Boneless Mercies.

The cover art drew me in, but the synopsis made me purchase it. It alluded to a sort of mythicism, magic, and my favourite – badassery. The story focuses on four mercies; Frey, Ovie, Runa, and Juniper. Mercies are hired to kill the sick, the dying and the old, mercifully. Frey, the main character, dreams of a life with more purpose, recognition, and glory. And as the story progresses, we find that the other women share the same reservations. While contemplating their next decision, an opportunity presents itself, to hunt a ravenous monster. The story then follows the mercies through the countryside as they make decisions that alter their fates.

Opening up the first page, I readied myself for the Nordic adventure but found that the folklore I was looking forward to, was missing. The disappointment started creeping in, after only a few lines. The first page dragged on. I found myself glazing through most of the book, trying to find a portion of excitement for myself.

Perhaps, I didn’t quite grasp the story, in the way, that April Genevieve Tucholke intended readers should. It happens and that’s on me.  But I can’t help feeling this way and it’s disheartening. Each character had a violent or tragic backstory and somehow they still felt flat because of how they had been written. There was so much detail and still, I couldn’t make a connection to any of the characters.

I enjoyed the theme of strong friendships, but couldn’t help feeling that the author did us a disservice by not writing a same-sex relationship into the story. How often do we get a fantasy about queer women? She laid scenes out in such a way, that I presumed a romantic interaction would take place but was left with nothing coming from it. I then assumed that she wrote out all romance, purely to focus on companionship. But then falters about halfway with the addition of new characters and heterosexual encounters do take place.

The stretched out writing let the plot fail. The pace of the book was frustrating to me, some scenes spread out too far and some moments happened too quickly. I know that this is a rather lengthy review, but the book was overwritten. I felt indifferent after the climax and actually forced myself into completing the book. I appreciated the plot but wish it had been written in a different style. It’s not very often that we get to read mythical works that focus primarily on women. Have you read The Boneless Mercies? What are your thoughts?