Friday, August 19, 2016

Review: The Unraveling of Mercy Louis

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review itself.

Title: The Unraveling of Mercy Louis
Author: Keija Parssinen
Publication Date: March 10, 2015
Genre: Psychological Suspense
Recommended If You Like: strong, complex female protagonists; the study of varying relationships between women (mother/daughter, grandmother/granddaughter, friends); coming of age stories; towns with secrets; an examination of the role of religion in a small town; psychology; basketball; stories playing off the idea of the Salem witch hunts

The Book:

Mercy Louis is a star basketball player on her high school team. She lives with her evangelical, vision-having grandmother, who has taken care of her since her mother left when she was a baby. Mercy has always followed her grandmother's rules, working hard to keep herself pure in body and mind. She has always followed her coach's rules, eating from the meal plan, focusing completely on basketball.

Illa is the manager of her high school girl's basketball team. Those moments with them are the highlight of her day. When she is not at school, she is her mother's caretaker, her mother having been severely injured by an explosion at the refinery many years ago.

But one summer, Mercy and Illa's worlds starts to change. And as girls start to be felled by a mysterious illness. Mercy, Illa, and their town, are forced to make difficult decisions and face their pasts.

What I Liked:

Mercy is a powerful, complex character. And none of the characters that surround her, especially the women, are one-dimensional or simple in any way.

There are also many mysteries in this novel, from what has caused the mysterious illness, to the truth behind Mercy's mother leaving, to what exactly happened in the refinery the day it exploded.

Parssinen also has a beautiful writing style, that flows really well. She's very adept at making you feel like you are inside her characters' heads.

I've also always been fascinated by the Salem Witch Trials, which this book plays off of in a wonderfully subtle way.

Anything I Didn't Like?

The ending felt a little too pat. Everything got resolved in a way that I'm not entirely convinced would hold true in real life. And one thing didn't get resolved that I really wanted to know the answer to.

The book also occasionally dragged a little, and took me longer to read than I had expected. It's hard to put my finger on exactly why this held true, but I suspect that it was because Parssinen sometimes uses her beautiful writing style a little too much--scenes and moments occasionally took longer than I felt like they should.


It was really refreshing to read about complex, complicated, three-dimensional female characters. While males, and their relationships with them, were an important component of the story, it was the women who really shined.

ARC August

1) The Assassin Game by Kirsty McKay
2) I'm Judging You by Luvvie Ayaji
3) Murder in the Secret Garden by Ellery Adams
4) The Ice Twins by S.K. Tremayne
5) American Heiress by Jeffrey Toobin
6) The Unraveling of Mercy Louis by Keija Parrssinen

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