Thursday, June 30, 2011

Merciful by Casey Adolffson

Genre: fantasy-- mythological
Pages: 494 (paperback)
Published: March 2011
Recommended for: paranormal romance readers and those interested in Greek myth
*Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*

At 17 years old, Acacia Moirgetes is starting to feel like her boring, lonely existence is something of a tragedy. A Greek tragedy, that is. Acacia quickly learns that the life she thought she knew is a lie.  More disturbingly, it’s a lie she’s been telling herself to avoid the terrible truth.

Now she’s on a mission to corral the Greek gods of myth back to Mount Olympus before all Hades breaks loose. With the help of her guide, a curmudgeonly former goat named Amal, and her two Pyroskia— devastatingly handsome bodyguards, Blaise and Ash, whose devotion to Acacia runs deeper than either ever imagined—Acacia must follow the truth to its darkest ends. Along the way, she’ll have to recover her forgotten powers, come to terms with the woman she once was, and perhaps most importantly, discover why she left Olympus in the first place.

My Take: 

My grandmother sometimes says, "There is a horse for every kind of person in the world: skittish horses for skittish people, gentle horses for gentle people, and for people who don't like to ride, we have horses that don't like to be ridden."  It's the same way with books, of course-- sometimes readers are destined to ride off into the sunset with a book because it's exactly their kind of thing.  Other times, we encounter books that simply aren't up our alley, for whatever reason.  This was how I felt about Merciful-- the book and I never really clicked, but I'll try my best to write a review which does the book justice, as it is both well-written and well-told.

Acacia begins her story as a young librarian, one whom finds herself abruptly disappearing from her daily job of shelving and reappearing in a mysterious desert, clad in unfamiliar garb in an unfamiliar land, alarmingly often.  During one of these strange lapses in time, Acacia discovers that she isn't in fact seventeen years old, but seventeen thousand years old-- and she is the most powerful Moirae, one of the three mistresses of fate in Greek mythology.  So it isn't too much of a stretch that her father is also Zeus, and her extremely devoted, stunningly handsome bodyguards Ash and Blaise are her Pyroskia-- Pyros for short.  Their sole purpose in life is to protect Acacia from rivals and enemies, of which she has gained many over the course of the last seventeen thousand years, and to assist her in all things.  Acacia quickly falls in love with Blaise-- and begins to wonder if she hasn't already fallen in love with him before-- even as she slowly begins to regain her memories.  Meanwhile, her father Zeus has promised Acacia's hand in marriage to Ares, god of war... unless Acacia can gather back the gods and goddesses who, like her, left Olympus before time runs out.  

This book is something of a tome at nearly 500 pages, and in many cases I think things and events could definitely have been left out or shortened to a more readable length.  The writing is elegant and flawless-- I don't think I spotted one grammatical mistake or misspelling over the course of such a huge book.  Acacia is a protagonist with a unique voice, one whom a reader will get to know and understand well very quickly.  The take on Greek mythology is unique and unlike any other modern mythos-type story I've read.  

But.  (Yep, there's a but.)  The story really dragged for me, as I said.  And a disclaimer: I'm not a big fan of paranormal romance.  I really, really dislike heroes who hang over the heroine all the time, somehow managing to form a love triangle as they fuss over her and smother her and guard her life at any cost, etc, etc.  I have the same pet peeve with leading ladies who hover over heroes.  Blaise and Ash's feelings and behavior towards Acacia was explained and made perfect sense within the context of their existences as Pyroskia.  But there were many moments when I just wanted to slap all three of them.  I grew exhausted with Blaise's dogged love for Acacia in particular.  Acacia's interactions with her bodyguards are perhaps a quarter or more of the book, and that didn't make it easy for me to ignore.  However, I will freely admit I'm not much of a romance reader-- as those of you who've read my reviews before know, I tend to be cynical of relationships in books-- so I'm obviously not the intended audience here.  Read Merciful if you dig this sort of romance, and if you're searching for a rather epic and sprawling story which features colorful characters along with surprising twists of plot and of one very mysterious past.

Cover: 5/5 (like it!)
Premise: 4/5
Characters: 2/5
Plot: 3/5
Overall Rating: 3/5

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