Darkest Mercy (#5) by Melissa Marr

Published:  March 3rd 2011
Goodreads badgePublisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 327
Format: Book
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
★   ★   ★   ★   ★   – 5 Stars

The Summer King is missing, the Dark Court is bleeding; and a stranger walks the streets of Huntsdale, his presence signifying the deaths of powerful fey. Love, despair and betrayal ignite the Faery Courts, and in the final conflict some will win…and some will lose everything.

As the Wicked Lovely series comes to a reviewing end I realise that I rather enjoyed them and a small part of me is sad that it has ended. But this is why the reread is such a glorious past time. Years down the track I can return and go ah yes, I remember you, and of course probably end up liking and not liking the same things, or things will make a lot more sense, who really knows.

When I finished this book I was so pleased that it was a final book to a series that doesn’t make me want to hate the author and curse them to high heaven with every swear word in the
devil’s dictionary, *cough* Mr Lewis *cough* Mr Snicket. After going back and forth in each book from good to intriguing, to annoying to alright we have some balance in book number five, which is great. There is a clear sense of growing tension and the threats of War brings out a completely new side of everyone which is just what you need at this point. Enough of the relationship drama and complaining and whining, it is time to get serious and it is done so well.

As the Courts try and recover from the actions in the previous book, they are also trying to prevent, prepare or ready themselves for battle with War. The majority of the narrative is alternating between Courts as we see them struggle with these recent events, while simultaneously holding back the battle they know they can’t prevent. The Summer Court is struggling with Keenan MIA, the Dark Court is wounded and even in the final chapters of this saga Marr still has more to reveal to us. I have said it before and I will say it again, for all the faults in this series, Marr’s ability to pull you in with what she isn’t telling you, and what she won’t show you right away is one of the real highlights for me. This book is filled with so much tension and suspense it is amazing. You pretty much have no idea what is going on but you love it all the same. You feel pain with these characters and you have an understanding of where they are coming from, something that has always been a strong point in Marr’s writing style as well. You try and predict the future and guess where the story will run and as much as you try and think you know what will happen Marr takes you somewhere else, and it works.

The build up of tension and the anticipation of action is clear for about the first half, but when the change comes you can see it begin to unravel steadily and then suddenly erupt. Everything rushes towards the end early on while still managing the steady pace. It is almost as if there are two layers going on within this book: the build up is being developed through the narrative, all the while the action has actually already begun under the surface and is pulling it along. That is the best description of it I have, but whatever it is it is working on so many levels. As you read you feel the excitement grow and it starts in gradual waves but then things change and you are just waiting for the explosion, which comes in spectacular form I might add.

No one in any of the Courts has declared war yet but War is there any way, and seeing how these characters react is brilliant. Keenan finally does something besides being a selfish manipulative guy, Aislinn comes into her own, Niall, oh god Niall is fantastic, always a favourite, and Donia shows her strength as usual, she did not have far to go like the others in terms of character strength but she does not hold back all the same. The fact that War is already there makes you feel like you are in the end of a film where the final battle montage plays and you see each of our main characters preparing or fighting for their lives and what they stand for. Lives are lost, those who remain are wounded in more ways than just physically, and there is the little rainbow at the end that tells you the damage is done but you know they will recover. This feeling comes in with a pretty much half the book to go but the way Marr has spread this out and treated each person to their own preparation was so well done. By alternating perspectives you really get to see their thoughts and reactions to everything that has happened or is happening. And what adds to the suspense is that there is no real promise of the movie rainbow in sight.

The presence of War we have seen in the past books becomes a dominating force as the world around fey and mortal alike begins to shatter. Casualties and sacrifices are shown on both sides, some not as dramatic or as violent as others, but powerful all the same. All the small battles have nothing against that of War, but that is her purpose. She is the embodiment of war and she is disobeying every rule of Faerie to get what she wants. By ignoring the rules she baits the Regents into fighting and lures them into her domain. It was really good to see everyone come into their own after so long dealing with their issues. The earlier books were fine because the situation had to be set up, but the fault was in the middle where I felt we hung on too long to the drama and love and mortality and connecting and it was so over the top. Now we have seen that reasonably dealt with we can get back to what makes these books so enjoyable: the politics and power theirs faeries wield under the surface. I understand that understanding history makes them what they become, but even if this weren’t the case it is worth having to read about these relationship dramas and internal struggles just for a glimpse of the real hidden power these fey have. We caught glimpses of it in the previous book but the threat of War brings it to its head marvellously.

The final chapters, well the last third actually, are worthy of everything that has been building over the past four books. There has been some bumps along the way and tediousness and a few out of sorts issues (looking at you book three), but by the final few chapters I could barely contain my excitement about what was going to happen. When Marr writes well, and writes with the tone and style it deserves it is brilliance. Nothing more, nothing less. Again, it is like Harry Potter 7: it is about the physical fights most of the time yes, but you can win just as well with logic and technicalities, they will help you win the fight more than the sword. When you finish the book there is no questions about what happens, what will happen, or any confusion. There is certainly no feeling of unsatisfactoriness. Definitely a fitting conclusion to a very well thought out and executed series.

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