Book Review – The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy by Megan Bannen

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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?

4 thoughts on “Book Review – The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy by Megan Bannen

  1. loved reading your honest thoughts on this Alienor! Similar to you, sometimes that’s why it takes me a while to get to certain adult fantasy books (especially if it has romance) because I need to be in the best reading headspace not only to fully understand the world but also appreciate the romance that develops. You got it perfectly, while there’s usually focus on one or the other, a balance is always great. The world does sound really interesting, but yeah even if the plot is good sometimes the writing can impact my enjoyment too. Wonderful review! ✨

  2. Thanks for the review! I think I”ll have to check this one out—when it comes to cozy books (whether cozy mysteries, cozy romances, cozy fantasies, even cozy science fiction) I tend to be a lot less critical of the things that otherwise annoy me.

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