Title: The Merciless
Author: Danielle Vega
Published: June 12th, 2014
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Forgive us, Father, for we have sinned
Brooklyn Stevens sits in a pool of her own blood, tied up and gagged. No one outside of these dank basement walls knows she’s here. No one can hear her scream.
Sofia Flores knows she shouldn’t have gotten involved. When she befriended Riley, Grace, and Alexis on her first day at school, she admired them, with their perfect hair and their good-girl ways. They said they wanted to save Brooklyn. They wanted to help her. Sofia didn’t realize they believed Brooklyn was possessed.
Now, Riley and the girls are performing an exorcism on Brooklyn—but their idea of an exorcism is closer to torture than salvation. All Sofia wants is to get out of this house. But there is no way out. Sofia can’t go against the other girls . . . unless she wants to be next. . . .
In this chilling debut, Danielle Vega delivers blood-curdling suspense and terror on every page. By the shockingly twisted end, readers will be faced with the most haunting question of all: Is there evil in all of us?
I don’t generally read horror. I have a hard time finding horror books that actually interest me, but when I do find them I tend to either love them or hate them. In the case of The Merciless, though, I will admit to being on the fence. There were parts that I really enjoyed, but there were also quite a bit of times that just got on my nerves, most of the time having to do with Brooklyn.
Brooklyn was an interesting character, let there be no doubt about that, but there were aspects of her character that drove me up the wall. Mostly I disliked a lot of what she said , a lot of it sounded unnatural to me.
She tilts her head so the remaining water pours over her face. She shakes her hair out, like a dog. “Is this so I’ll be ready for the wet T-shirt portion of the night?”
This sort of talk is supposed to make her seem like a rebel, a troublemaker, but it just came across as weird to me. She’s trying to make Riley and her followers uncomfortable, maybe bring some humor into the mix, but the way she approached doing so came across as forced. To me, Brooklyn came across as a sort of rebel, but not so strongly that I can really see why Riley and Co think that she’s possessed. She acted basically like the average teenage girl that you see in the movies, wild and crazy but still just a teenager.
Riley, Grace and Alexis were all very strange as well, but their characters felt more natural to me than Brooklyn’s. All three were highly religious from get go, as well as anti-Brooklyn, but don’t automatically come across as psychotic. They seemed more like a couple of well meaning christian girls, who had some quirks but were overall just as they appeared. That is not the case. Each and every one of them were incredibly screwed up, some more than others perhaps, and capable of extremely violent behavior. Except for that little bitty detail, however, they very much mirrored the three “Plastics” from Mean Girls, as many others have suggested, which made their violent behavior all the more disturbing.
Sofia was actually the least interesting out of the main characters, in my opinion, but her unique perspective on the events in the story made it even more interesting to read than I think it would have been from one of the other girl’s perspectives. Neither the tortured nor the torturer, her view from the sidelines as a horrified bystander was an a disturbing, but interesting way of telling the story. Especially since for the majority of the book she was powerless to do much of anything to help Brooklyn like she so desired, or even escape from the basement.
Note: Also, although I did enjoy this book it involves quite a bit of detailed torture scenes and is definitely not right for everyone. If you are sensitive about blood, gore, death or just general violence, I would recommend that you not read this book. There are possible triggers at several points within the novel and I don’t want anyone to walk into reading it without being aware. The synopsis may make the book sound gory, but the book itself is much more so. I use the word disturbing so much for a reason, and although the descriptive nature of the book won’t bother everyone, it’s sure to bother a decent amount of its readers, which, though admittedly purposeful, is going to be too much for many people.