A Julia Review :Thirteen Mercies, Three Kills by Liv Olteano

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Watching her father’s termination, twenty-year-old Cristina Mera Richards decides to kill the reaper Edgar Verner. Verner is the resident alkemist of New Bayou, though, and since alkemists are immortal, killing him won’t be easy. But the harvesters are destroying the hovertown one citizen at a time. Edgar Verner must be stopped.

Cristina Mera has a gift for seeing and hearing ghosts. She escorts souls out of bodies ravaged by the withering sickness, taking away their pain. Her gifts are unique. Once it’s clear she’s a changeling, Verner becomes more than interested in having her by his side.

Mysterious Wanderer Alkemist Nikola Skazat is the solution to Cristina Mera’s problems—a delightful and charming one, since Nikola is a woman unlike any Cristina Mera has ever met. Becoming Nikola’s apprentice instead of Verner’s finally gives Cristina Mera the opportunity she needs to save her hovertown. It also puts her heart in high gear, gives her butterflies, and just might get her killed.

Thirteen Mercies, Three Kills by Liv Olteano is a dystopian novel with elements of Steampunk, Fantasy and Science-Fiction.

What got me hooked right away was the intriguing setting and worldbuilding. Taking place in the future after a nuclear fallout, humans are reduced to living in hovering settlements shielded from the toxic world outside and ruled over by alkemists who process the souls of citizens in order to keep the platforms afloat. First, I thought that this novel would gear mostly towards the Fantasy-genre because of the protagonist’s ability to have Death do her bidding and help sick people pass on peacefully. However, later on, as the origin behind the hovertowns was revealed, the story seemed to edge closer towards Sci-Fi.

I quite liked the protagonist Cristina Mera. She’s strong-willed, brave and knows what she wants. I also rather enjoyed seeing that she made no secret of her immediate attraction for Nikola. Her abilities were quite astounding, and I wished you could have seen a bit more of her interactions with the people she performed her so-called “mercies” on as well as their family members.

Nikola Skazat was the one I took an immediate liking to. From her mannerisms to her clothing style and her profession, she was a particularly intriguing character and I could understand why Cristina became fascinated with her right away. She projected the image of a confident woman who had already seen a lot in her lifetime and felt secure in who she was. I would have very much liked to learn more about her skills as well as seeing her teach some of those to her new apprentice. Still, I did enjoy the dynamic between the two women.

While both the setting and main characters were rather intriguing, and the plot showed potential as well, there were some parts of this novel that bothered me. For one, the first half of the story seemed to be more detailed than the second one and especially the ending felt rather rushed. The same goes for the final confrontation with Verner which fell sort of flat. The plan to take him down seemed not particularly well thought out and while the characters said so themselves, it made me wonder why they didn’t even try to come up with a few more precautions. It all seemed rather ill-advised considering that this operation had apparently been in the making for quite some time.

There were also some potentially very interesting characters like Verner’s liquidator – a type of assassin – or the leader of a rebellious group I would have liked to learn more about.

All in all, this novel showed great potential and some very good writing. Due to the way some elements were handled – particularly the fight with Verner – I sadly cannot give it as high of a rating as I would have liked. But I will definitely be on the lookout for future works by this author (including a sequel to this one) since there were quite some inspired ideas and concepts in there that just needed to be further explored and polished.

The cover design by Catt Ford features a beautiful artwork of Cristina Mera and caught my eye right away.

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Book Details:

ebook, 180 pages

Published June 13, 2017

by Harmony Ink Press

ISBN-13: 978-1-63533-419-7

Edition Language: English

By Scattered Thoughts

At over 50, I am ruled by my terriers, my gardens, and my projects. A knack for grubbing about in the woods, making mud pies, and tending to the injured worms, bugs, and occasional bird and turtle growing up eventually led me to working for the Parks. I was a park Naturalist for over 20 years, and observing Nature and her cycles still occupy my hours. From the arrival of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in the Spring to the first call of the Snow Geese heading south in the Fall, I am entranced by the seasons. For more about me see my bio on my blog.

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