The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy was one of my most anticipated books of the Summer and I’m so sad I didn’t love it. The characters were likeable, the dialogues made me smile and I was intrigued by the world at first, but I kept starting and stopping it a few pages later. As it happens sometimes, I was interested but it couldn’t keep my attention. Was it me? The book? In this case, I’m pretty sure it was me.
Honestly, that’s why I never read romantasy novels—weird as it can be, I enjoy romances in fantasy books and romance novels but romantasy books often frustrate me :
- either I want to learn more about the world
- or I’m only interested in the romance so I couldn’t care less about the world,
- or—as it was the case here— neither aspect manages to win me over fully at first : the balance between the two is so hard to find tbh?
I think I finally understand why some of my friends—whose preferences go to romantasy rather than fantasy—often tell me that they don’t care about the rest of the plot/the world-building. It’s probably because sometimes, we can tell what’s given the most importance and care, and let’s face it, in many romantasy books it’s *not* the rest of the plot or the world-building. Be assured by the way that I’m not judging what kind of books is “better” or something ridiculous like that : it’s all a matter of personal preference and you won’t find me belittling romance novels : they’re great and wonderful and make so many people happy (me included, when I’m in the mood for them).
What I’m not saying is that this book hasn’t got a world-building, though, because it does: it just never pulled me in. I think what frustrates me the most is the fact that it should have : it takes place on a magical island, there are talking animals (!!!!!) and ghoulish creatures. It sounds fantastic!!!!!! sadly I didn’t care and felt the urge to skim whenever the book was trying to teach me something about the world. Perhaps the fault lies in the writing rather than the world-building per se, I don’t know. What I do know is that even now, I don’t quite understand why it didn’t work for me, but it didn’t, and I was bored.
Anyway, it took me a while to find my rhythm but around 30% I started to care about these characters so. much !!!! Mercy and Hart are both imperfect, stubborn and so damn lovable. Their loneliness moved me and I felt very invested in their happiness 🥺. This book deals with family and belonging and these plots always get to me, you know?
... and then I reached the halfway point. I was very happy, so happy in fact that I kinda felt satisfied enough to stop reading. I think it’s safe to say that it was not the intended effect? *smiles awkwardly* I did keep reading, but honestly? If I hadn’t been reading an arc, I might have stopped there and called it a day.
This review is so messy—the truth is, I keep coming back to the fact that I really, really loved Hart and Mercy as persons and I’d like to be their friends, thank you? but I was so bored whenever they weren’t together and it breaks my heart that I couldn’t enjoy the book more. Because the overall plot, both on Mercy and Hart side? Couldn’t care less 🙈
In the end, I just have to accept that The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy simply wasn’t for me, but I’ll definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoy cozy romantasy books with well-rounded characters, great humor and a light mystery to follow.
About The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy
Author : Megan Bannen | Publisher : Orbit Books | Genre : Adult Fantasy | Pages : 336
Hart is a marshal, tasked with patrolling the strange and magical wilds of Tanria. It’s an unforgiving job, and Hart’s got nothing but time to ponder his loneliness.
Mercy never has a moment to herself. She’s been single-handedly keeping Birdsall & Son Undertakers afloat in defiance of sullen jerks like Hart, who seems to have a gift for showing up right when her patience is thinnest.
After yet another exasperating run-in with Mercy, Hart finds himself penning a letter addressed simply to “A Friend”. 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 dangers from Tanria grow closer, so do the unlikely correspondents. But can their blossoming romance survive the fated discovery that their pen pals are their worst nightmares – each other?