Aug 12, 2022

Review--The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy by Megan Bannen


Hart Ralston is a demigod and a marshal, tasked with patrolling the wasteland of Tanria. The realm the exiled old gods once called home is now a forsaken place where humans with no better options or no better sense come seeking adventure or spoils, but more often end up as drudges: reanimated corpses inhabited by the souls of those who’ve died in Tanria before. Hart tells himself that his job is simple: neutralize the drudges with a quick zap to the appendix and deliver them back to polite society at the nearest undertaker’s, leaving the whys and hows of the drudge problem for men without the complexities of a god in their family tree. But working alone, Hart’s got nothing but time to ponder exactly those questions he’d most like to avoid.

Too much time alone is the opposite of Mercy Birdsall’s problem. Since her father’s decline, she’s been single-handedly keeping Birdsall & Son undertakers afloat in small-town Eternity—despite definitely not being a son, and in defiance of sullen jerks like Hart Ralston, who seems to have a gift for showing up right when her patience is thinnest. The work’s not the problem—Mercy’s good at it, better than any other Birdsall—but keeping all her family’s plates spinning singlehandedly, forever, isn’t how Mercy envisioned her future.

After yet another run-in with the sharp-tongued Mercy, Hart considers she might have a point about his utter loneliness being a bit of a liability. In a moment of sentimentality, he pens a letter addressed simply to “A Friend,” and entrusts it to a nimkilim, an anthropomorphic animal messenger with an uncanny connection to the gods, (and in Hart’s case, a bit of a drinking problem). Much to his surprise, an anonymous letter comes back in return, and a tentative friendship is born.

If only Hart knew he’s been baring his soul to the person who infuriates him most–Mercy. As the two unlikely pen pals grow closer, the truth about Hart’s parentage and the nature of the drudges creeps in. And suddenly their old animosity seems so small in comparison to what they might be able to do: end the drudges forever. But at what cost?


If you're looking for a perfectly adorable romance read sprinkled with bits of paranormal, than Megan Bannen's adult debut, The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy is the read for you! This was a delightfully sweet little read with paranormal and fantasy elements and maybe a hint of a mystery! It was a read that is bit beyond my usual but it held me positively spellbound within its pages!

Mercy has been running the family's undertaker business since her father had a heart attack awhile back. Her younger brother, Zeddie will be taking over once he's finished with school. Mercy finds she enjoys the job really. She loves making the boats that will take the departed into their afterlife. She's a woman who takes pride in her job. The only problem is where she happens to get her bodies from and that is Hart Ralston.

Hart Ralston is a marshal, and it's his job to patrol the wilds of Tanria and take care of any "drudges." Basically drudges are zombies; spirits possessing dead bodies and Hart sort of exorcises the spirit out of the body and then delivers the body to whatever undertaker the body has a contract with. Other times though, he is forced to take them to Birdsall & Son, Undertakers, which is where is least favorite undertaker, Mercy works. Mercy and Hart have what you call a hate-hate relationship. The two are always at each other's throats with barbs and other not-so-nice things to say.

When Hart is forced to take on a new apprentice, a young kid by the name of Pen Duckers, it's pointed out to him what a miserable life he leads. For Hart is a demigod. His unknown father had to be a god, and that makes Hart a bit different. But then Hart realizes he has no real friends, no one to talk to, no one to confide in. So he decides to write a letter. Not to anyone, but just a letter to eke out his feelings and then he just drops it into the mailbox, not expecting anything to come of was merely a therapeutic exercise. But then a letter does come back to him...wonder of wonders.

As you might guess, Mercy is the one who received the mysterious letter by chance. She felt a kinship to the writer of the emotional letter and she decided to write back. It was nice to have a pen pal, one she could talk to about everything. Sometimes, all one needs is a kind ear.

At a certain point you can start to see where things are going. Secrets are building up between Hart and Mercy, and yet a twist of fate has these two growing closer together as well. I won't get into too many details about that. But I have to say that I enjoyed watching these two people who hated each other, grow closer on an emotional level--even if they weren't aware of it at the time--and then were falling for each other without the knowledge that we, the reader, has.

The book has a dual point of view in the third person and was a nice easy read! I will admit that some of the world-building was a little sketchy. I mean, it took awhile for a clear picture to form of what kind of world we're living in. It's definitely not our typical world for here we have some version of talking animals, but then some who are just regular animals that we all know and love. I wouldn't say this a magic based world, as there really wasn't any kind of magic that we're used to. It's very strange in some sense, and I was floundering for a bit trying to grasp what the rules were and the limitations. 

There was a teeny, tiny mystery happening in the background as well. This was not a focal point of the story in some sense but did become pretty eye-opening once revealed. There's really not much to say on it than that. It's not like a whodunit kind of mystery as it becomes explicitly clear of whodunit! But it adds a little jus to the story-line, so it wasn't too terrible of an add-on.

But honestly, what I loved the most about this story was Hart and Mercy and their budding romance! That they hated each other in the beginning and end up falling for each other without really knowing it right away was just enough to make even the hardest of hearts turn to mush--and I should know, because I have one! Lol. And since this is a standalone (light) paranormal romance, you know it has to end happily. I mean, it's pretty much ingrained that paranormal romances have to end happily! I've done major looking into the differences between paranormal romance versus urban fantasy! So though there were times I was inwardly screaming at what was happening between Hart and Mercy, I kept telling myself "never fear!" Even if I had many pages left! 

In the end, while this was not my usual kind of read, The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy was a read that took me by surprise and captured my heart! It was the sweetest kind of read, which isn't usually my forte. There's enough of a blend of the paranormal and mystical to make the story stand out from your normies, and is the most perfect kind of read for the paranormal reader looking for a little touch more of romance in their books for a [possible] change! Without a doubt the cutest read I've read this year...and in general!

Overall Rating 4.5/5 stars

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