Novella Review: Mercy by Jan Coffey

Mercy (Entangled Ever After)

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Julia Klein’s life has begun to unravel—her daughter Amy has been suspended from school, Julia is about to lose her job, and her boyfriend Garrett is being transferred thousands of miles away. Overwhelmed, she and Amy leave for a weekend at a rambling old colonial inn. Julia never suspects that Garrett, desperate to find a way to keep Julia in his life, has decided to surprise her by joining them. Nor does she expect her daughter to befriend a mischievous ghost…or that she herself would be possessed by the malevolent spirit of a long-dead mother.

As a dark secret emerges, Julia, Amy, and Garrett find themselves pitted in a fight for survival against a savage presence that intends to resurrect/repeat/relive a horrible crime committed two centuries ago. And this time, Amy and Julia will be the victims.

Review:

Zowie!!  Mercy is a great Halloween read!  I wasn’t expecting much, and in fact only picked this novella up because it’s short and I thought I could polish it off fairly quickly.  I did!  But because I couldn’t put it down once I started it.  It’s creepy and the pacing is unrelenting!  Good thing it’s short, because my heart couldn’t have taken much more!  I am usually not a fan of ghost stories, and even though this is fairly predictable, it’s well written and engaging because the characters are so personable.

 

Julia’s life is on the skids.  Her husband was killed in a tragic car accident years ago, and her young daughter, Amy, hasn’t spoken a word since.  Trapped in the car with her dead father, the emotional trauma has robbed her of speech.  Julia’s about to lose her job, and she’s freaking out about money.  Amy needs to continue her therapy, and it’s going to be a struggle keeping a roof over their heads and food on the table.  The only bright spot in her life is her boyfriend, Garrett, but he’s been promoted and will soon be moving away.  The final straw is when Amy gets into trouble at school, and in desperation, Julia takes Amy out of town for the weekend, with the hope of getting away from all of their troubles.  Too bad the inn she’s booked is haunted.

The story is told from all three protagonists’ point of view.  It’s always a bonus when you like all of the characters, and you hope that everything will work out so that they can all have their HEA.  The creepy occurrences at the inn serve to push them all together and make the other troubles in their lives seem like mere inconveniences.  I guess imminent death does that.  Garrett realizes that he can’t leave Julia and sweet Amy behind, and Julia learns that it’s okay to trust Garrett completely.  The atmosphere is delightfully frightening, as each character, in turn, has interactions with the ghosts haunting the hotel.  As they struggle to make sense of the history that won’t allow the spirits to rest, they must wrestle with their own relationship.  Julia is afraid that a long-distance relationship with Garrett can only end in failure, and Garrett isn’t certain what he wants in the future with Julia.  Is this the real thing, or just a pleasant diversion?  From the moment Garrett arrived at the inn, I had no doubt that this family needed to be together, and I knew that they would find a way for that to happen.

If you want to get in the mood for Halloween, this is a great place to start.  Mercy is delightfully creepy, the pacing is spot on, and the characters are all likable.   There’s not a lot of romance, per se, but it’s an engaging read anyway.

Grade:  A-

Review copy provided by publisher