The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy
"A uniquely charming mixture of whimsy and the macabre that completely won me over. If you ever wished for an adult romance that felt like Howl's Moving Castle, THIS IS THAT BOOK." —Helen Hoang, author of The Kiss Quotient
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.
"Truly outstanding romantic fantasy." —India Holton
"An unabashedly offbeat adventure." —Freya Marske
"I cried twice and smiled plenty." —Olivia Atwater
"A little sweet, a little spicy, a little sharp and entirely moreish!" —Davinia Evans
"I showed up for the fantastic, fun fantasy setting but it was Hart and Mercy that kept me reading." —Ruby Dixon
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
The hot romance at the heart of this fantasy-Western hybrid will melt your heart. Demigod Hart is a marshal guarding the land’s untamed frontier from a scourge of magically reanimated corpses. Mercy is an overwhelmed undertaker trying to protect the family business from a predatory competitor. Thanks to a magical mail system, these two loners become anonymous pen pals, pouring their hearts out to each other on the page—and fighting like mad whenever they actually meet. Megan Bannen makes us fall in love with this unlikely couple through their complex emotions, even when we want to kick them under the table for being such brats to each other. She gives us plenty of thrilling action sequences too—not to mention an entire world of strange and intriguing magic. A wickedly smart, funny zombie Western rom-com, The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy is a surprising and perfect genre mashup.
Bannen's adult debut (after The Bird and the Blade) mixes You've Got Mail, Wyatt Earp, and The Walking Dead to create an ambitious but uneven fantasy rom-com. Hart Ralston, a demigod and marshal in the Old West inspired land of Tanria, is so lonely that he looks forward to his trips to Birdsall & Son Undertakers. At least when he's dropping off zombie remains (called drudges), he can play with the dog belonging to his nemesis, undertaker Mercy Birdsall. When Hart writes an anonymous letter to no one in particular he addresses it "Dear friend" as a way of processing his loneliness, the note is magically delivered via nimkilim (anthropomorphic messenger animals) to Mercy. It was hate at first sight when Hart and Mercy met in real life, but soon each falls for the other's pen pal persona just in time for an uptick in drudges to get in the way of their romance. An overarching fantasy mystery about how and why drudges exist rests uneasily on top of this rom-com framework, and an abrupt tonal shift in the third act will throw many readers. Still, fans of the Ask a Mortician webseries and those who love gore and rom-coms in equal measure will find plenty to enjoy in this quirky outing.
Holy heck, have Mercy on my Hart
Best dang book I’ve read in a long time
Exactly what I needed to read
This was the perfect book to read after finishing a long series. The perfect standalone romance with whimsy that I never knew I needed. This will forever be one of those books I wish I could read again for the first time.
Beautiful, macabre, all the feels
This book was stand-alone perfection. I love Hart, Mercy, all of their friends and loved ones, their individual growth and quests. *chefs kiss* this is it, this will be a book I reread each year for this feeling.