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

Hey friends!! Today I’m coming at you with a review of “The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy” by Megan Bannon. This one comes out this Tuesday, August 23rd, and spoiler: it was incredible.

An advanced finished copy of “The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy” was provided to me by Forever Publishing and Orbit Books. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Read on to check out the official synopsis of the book, my review, and a bit about the author!

Synopsis

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?

Set in a world full of magic and demigods, donuts and small-town drama, this enchantingly quirky, utterly unique fantasy is perfect for readers of The House in the Cerulean Sea and The Invisible Library.

My Thoughts

I don’t believe I’ll be able to perfectly articulate just how unique, swoon-worthy, cool, and whimsical this book was. I genuinely had the best time reading it.

I’m pretty inclined to avoid standalone romantic fantasies/fantasy romcoms. I like my fantasy books to be full on series because I feel like there simply isn’t enough time to get the full scope of things within one book.

Well, Megan Bannen fully proved me wrong with “The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy.” I feel so extremely satisfied with knowing the world and its fantasy aspects. Of course I would love more from Hart and Mercy, but I am in no way unsatisfied with the ending of this book and I’m left with zero pressing questions about the world (except, I would looooove a monthly calendar, just so I can know the order of the days Megan created to replace our days of the week lol).

The enemies to lovers trope was *chef’s kiss* and I loved that it was something that was established over years and years and we were given the backstory over the course of the book. Individually, I love Hart and Mercy. They both care so much for the people in their lives and it was super wholesome and sweet seeing that side of them. I love how strong Mercy is and how she takes care of her family above all else, even though it can sometimes come before her own wellbeing–it’s something that brought me to tears a few times. And I love how despite how much loss Hart has faced, and how hard he tries to push people away, he can’t help but still be highly aware of how much he cares. He also softens to Pen so fast and it made me smile so much.

Megan Bannen did such a wonderful job with the world building. I’ve never read anything like this. Death is central to all of our characters lives. Mercy is literally an undertaker. Hart hunts down possessed corpses and takes them to various undertakers (By the way, I adore how Megan used the appendix as the place where our souls live and hence, the place a lost soul can enter to possess a corpse. I don’t know, I just thought that was super cool.). Tanria is where these souls who are trapped and unable to move on reside. Old gods and new gods are a thing. There’s magic and demigods and SASSY TALKING OWLS AND RABBITS WHO DELIVER YOUR MAIL AND LOVE TO DRINK. There’s humor and things that will make you ugly cry and a teeny bit of spice. And let’s not forget the dash of small town charm and drama. All of this exists at the same time and is so wonderfully cohesive and whimsical. It all works together to create, easily, one of my favorite titles of 2022.

“The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy” was a lovely surprise and I really hope everyone gets their hands on a copy.

★★★★☆ (4/5 stars)

About The Author

Megan Bannen is a former public librarian whose YA debut The Bird and the Blade was an Indies Introduce Summer/Fall 2018 pick, a Summer 2018 Kids’ Indie Next List pick, and a Kirkus Best YA Historical Fiction of 2018 pick. While most of her professional career has been spent behind the reference desk, she has also sold luggage, written grants, collected a few graduate degrees from various Kansas universities, and taught English at home and abroad. She lives in the Kansas City area with her husband and their two sons. 

Published by Selina Falcon

Reader. Writer. Live music addict.

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