House of Mercy - Erin Healy
- Written by Emma Engel
Some people feel a profound need to fix the world. Beth Borzoi does and learns the hard way that it is not her place to try and mend everything. Her mistake could cost her family everything. In attempt to right her wrong, Beth sets out on a quest to find her estranged grandfather…but she is being led by a wolf. The very wolf that had seemed to launch the nightmare her life had become.
I have a confession to make. I needed something to read, and I picked House of Mercy because it had a horse on the cover. I knew nothing about the author and had heard nothing about the book which normally makes me hesitant to pick something up. But House of Mercy is one of those books that once you’ve read, you pick up a copy every time you see it because it seems you’re always giving your copy away. “You haven’t read it? Here, take mine!”
Mrs. Healy’s website mentions her interest in “thin places,” and I think that is what sets this book apart. Many authors write either fantasy or realistic fiction, but a few, like Mrs. Healy, tell realistic stories that contain glimpses into something “other.” I found the way the novel approached the supernatural fascinating – completely scriptural, but allowing for a mysticism modern culture often shies away from. Instead of portraying the supernatural in a Christian light, it is portrayed as part of Christianity.
There are starting to be a fair amount of Christian books that depict the supernatural in the form of demons and angels, but Beth’s story is far more internal. In many ways, it reminded me of the Native American practice of young people going on a spiritual journey to find themselves. A great deal of emphasis is put on Beth’s full name and its meaning. The wolf who lead her, while flesh and blood, has strong elements of a spirit guide. And above all, Beth starts on the path of learning and understanding how her gift is to be used.
I found the quarrelling among the siblings, Beth’s alienation from the family, and her friendship with Jacob unusually well written. Often these are elements that I feel detract from a story, but they flow into the narrative and add a depth to Beth’s story. The characterizations of her grandfather and Cat were stunning. I loved how carefully we are introduced to them, and that first slight hint that our first impressions of Cat might be wrong. Even Beth’s brother Levi has a great deal of depth to him although on the surface he comes across simply as an antagonist. There is a scene between him and Beth in the family graveyard that tells the reader almost as much about what drives Levi as you learn about Beth during the entire book. And of course, the most careful drawn character in the book is that of Mercy – in all interpretation of the word.
While I highly recommend this book for adults, there are several disturbing and violent sections that make it questionable for a younger audience. Mature elements aside, I don’t see many kids younger than highschool age being able to follow and appreciate the themes the book is structured around.
My thanks to BookSneeze for sending me a review copy of House of Mercy, in return for my honest opinion of this book.