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Weak ending and some characters mar otherwise decent writing
on September 3, 2012
Beth is a young woman with a dream of becoming a vet. She has a love of animals, and as she works with injured animals, she begins to wonder if she has a gift of healing. Being a vet would allow her to work at her parent's ranch in a role that she would enjoy. However, in an attempt to help a nearby family, Beth causes a terrible accident. The consequences of her actions are more than her family can afford to pay. To save the ranch and atone for her mistake, Beth must find her grandfather, who she didn't even know was alive. Her guide: a wolf, which might not even be real.
House of Mercy is Erin Healy's fourth solo novel, and the third I have read. She also co-authored two books with Ted Dekker, Kiss and Burn. Once again, Healy brings some supernatural elements to her writing, though they appear much more subdued this time, most of the time being completely absent.
When I read Kiss, the first book Healy had worked on with Ted Dekker, I could feel a difference in the writing. While the story felt Dekker-ish, there seemed to be a smoothness to the writing that most Dekker books didn't have. When I started ready Healy's solo novels, I noticed this continue, even through House of Mercy. She can write fast paced stories while bringing a softer tone than what Dekker does.
The story itself was interesting, and generally kept my attention. I naturally gravitate towards thrillers and other stories with lots of action. I still enjoy a good dramatic tale though, as long as it has strong characters. Within House of Mercy I found a mish-mash of characters. Some of them, such as Beth and her father felt solid. However, other characters seemed light on characterization. Both the primary and secondary antagonist felt forced. Backstory was awkwardly delivered through memories or exposition. Beth's brother, who I consider the secondary antagonist, was particularly weak. His personality seemed like he was created to just be mean and rude, but I never got a good sense of him. Why was he the way he was? It felt like the story needed someone to get in Beth's way and the brother was the most convenient choice.
It was the end, however, that really got to me. Perhaps I missed something, but the story seemed completely unresolved. I can't say too much without spoiling the story, but the ending was quite disappointing. While there is closure in regards to the character relationships, there is no closure to the over-arching plot. The inciting incident, which sent Beth on her journey, was not fully addressed. Perhaps there will be a sequel, but I don't really see how that will work either.
While I enjoy Healy's writing style, the weak characterization of the antagonists and the poor ending made me disappointed in House of Mercy.
I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255