Thursday, 17 March 2011

Book Review - Darkest Mercy by Melissa Marr

Darkest Mercy is the fifth and final book of Melissa Marr's series: Wicked Lovely. Faerie politics, betrayals, lust, love, death and war... So how do you end a high-profile five book saga?

I love Melissa's books. With such an amazing plot and set of characters, covers to make you drool and titles to entice curiosity on the most skeptical... how could you resist?  If you have read the other four books, please skip the descriptions below to the review at the bottom, but if you have not read them.... Read on for a quick spoiler free "fill me in":

Wicked Lovely is the first book of the series and it introduces you to plot as well as the four main characters: Ash (Aislinn), a mortal gifted with the sight, she can see the world of faeries and she does not like them or her gift. Unfortunately for her, the Summer King,  Keenan, has decided she is destined to be his next queen and the one who will end his curse. Unfortunately for him, Ash is already in love with Seth, a mortal who would do anything to help and save his best friend. And there is Donia, Keenan's love interest, who has also been cursed with him and is now part of the Winter Court and therefore out of his reach. While Keenan pursues Ash in the hope of saving his court, his enemy and mother - the Winter Queen - does what she can to prevent it from happening. While this book introduces you to four faerie courts it concentrates on the fickle, carefree, volatile and pleasure worshipping Summer Court and the more reserved, faithful and passionate Winter Court. (read my full review by clicking here)


Ink Exchange, the second book, continues the story and follows Ash as she tries to find her bearings with her new gifts and keep everyone she loves around her. While it continues from where Wicked Lovely left off, it also introduces you to Leslie, a mortal connected to the Dark King, Irial, by a mystical tattoo and loved by the ex-Dark Court and now Summer King advisor: Niall. Through this second love triangle you get to explore the cruel, violent and tempting Dark Court. You also get to see Keenan, the Summer King, at his most manipulative. (click here for my full review)

Next comes Fragile Eternity. When Seth realizes that to stay in Ash's life being a mortal is just not good enough he accepts assistant from the worse possible faery, Discord, who takes him to the High Queen in hopes she will kill him and spark a war in between the courts. Desperate with grief over Seth's disappearance Ash seeks comfort on her wolf-disguised-as-lamb king: Keenan. And the conflict in between the courts deepens. Fragile Eternity also introduces you to the regal, logical, utopian and completely dispassionate High Court. (Read my full review here)

Then you have Radiant Shadows. This is where everything gets complicated and you are introduced to the new threat that was lurking on the background biding her time. You also get introduced to a new love triangle while the story moves on for all the characters. Sorry I am being so vague, but I do not want to spoil the endings and twists if you have not read the books. (Again, full review here)

Ok... *takes deep breath* We finally made it to Darkest Mercy where all the fairy courts are about to engage in war when Discord plots to overthrow the new Dark King and everything gets turned on its head.

Honestly, to me Melissa is a genius. The sheer size and complexity of this story is mind boggling! It is not just that by the time you read Darkest Mercy there are about seven faerie courts involved - each with its set of regents, hierarchy and followers - but the fact that she manages to give each of them, and I do not mean just the courts but every character within them, very defined characteristics, personality and interests. Not to mention the politics in between the courts, which... closely resembles real life politics: lies, manipulation, misleading, good intentions behind devious means and worse.  As an inspiring writer, creating a story filled with so many characters that are all so different seems like a damn tall order, but Melissa manages it beautifully. 

Is Darkest Mercy the best book of the saga? I am not sure. Then again, I cannot see the story ending any other way. Be prepared to run for the tissues. 

What amazes me the most about this series, though, is Melissa's contrasts: beauty is sickening, cold is passionate, perfection is boring, cruelty is noble and death is merciful. The tittles to her books are a good hint of how she operates. Every first impression you have of any situation and any character gets thrown right out of window as you get to know them better, to the point that after all the lies, deceits, deaths and love affairs you cannot really dislike any of them, apart from Discord. Keenan is the typical example for me. Through his manipulations, misleading and lies I can say I did not like him from the very beginning and was hoping he would pay for his ways. In Darkest Mercy, however, you will discover a little more about him and I found myself hoping he would also have his shot at true love and happiness. How do you go from wishing a character's death throughout the first four books to cheering for him at the very last one? *scratches head in confusion*

Ultimately, for me, these books are also about human nature, as every court is the embodiment of a facet of human personality, and the fact that true happiness can only be found when a balance in between all those is achieved. I would most highly recommend this series to anyone. 

"Let Melissa Marr take through alluring romances, heart-stopping danger and sinister intrigues. Step into a world of shadows and desire - into the world of Faerie."

OUT OF CURIOSITY: Represented on the covers of the books are some of the key characters: Wicked Lovely - Ash, Ink Exchange - Leslie, Fragile Eternity - Sorcha, Radiant Shadows - Ani, Darkest Mercy - Donia. Even here Marr shows her contrasts: Ash, the Summer Queen, holds a frozen flower and Donia, the Winter Queen, holds a blossoming sunlit one.

To check the rating system click here.


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  2. I have read the whole series of these books at least 3 times in the years they have been out, and will read them many more I'm sure. They are just amazing in every way. I am 29 and have a large library of adult as well as young adult books, I am not ageist if the books are good. These are great reads for any age and do not need to be viewed as for young adults ONLY (just because some of the characters are 17 or so) it has almost no influence on the story.


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