by Naomi Hughes
Publication: March 16, 2021
Tal, his sister Nyx, and Elodie/The Destroyer are the main characters, and chapters are told in the third person from each of their perspectives. Tal questions his faith when his visions reveal that he will save The Destroyer and the kingdom but his oath to protect her has only led to more blood on his hands. Determined to free her brother from his oath, Nyx is intent on killing The Destroyer. The Destroyer has killed many innocent people to protect her sister’s reign. When she loses her memories and powers, she transforms into someone different from The Destroyer everyone knows but is she still worth saving?
- Mercurial is reminiscent of classic medieval fantasy novels, but also felt surprisingly fresh. It has a unique magic system, which particularly stood out to me. Blood that is infused with metal determines an individual’s powers. For instance, those with silver in their blood have the ability to foresee the future whereas those with copper have healing powers. Being born with metal-infused blood also makes one prone to a rust disease.
- Hughes mentions in her acknowledgments that she wrote Mercurial during a time in which she was trying to “renavigate [her] own faith.” The exploration of religion is integral to the plot with Tal’s struggle with his decisions and their consequences as the platform for this analysis. Rather than view it as inherently good or bad, it is a more analytical approach, questioning such things as what it means to adhere to one’s faith or the interpretation of religious texts.
- My favorite books are those with strong female protagonists, so while Tal is interesting, I liked how the book had both Nyx and Elodie. I was mostly invested in Elodie, who ultimately became my favorite character. When The Destroyer lost her powers and became Elodie, I felt helpless and vulnerable alongside her. Hughes did a wonderful job with Elodie’s arc, asking whether redemption is possible for someone who has committed so many atrocities.
- Other than the twist already detailed in the description, I was never quite sure about what to expect next. At times I thought I knew where the book was going, but it would veer in a different direction. It kept me riveted, trying to guess what would happen next. I had a difficult time suppressing the urge to flip to the end.
Mercurial‘s exploration of faith, redemption, and the power of love felt relatively new when compared to all the books I’d been reading. The plot was well-developed, and Tal, Nyx, and Elodie were rounded characters. I hadn’t heard much about the novel before finding it on NetGalley and am thankful I was provided the opportunity to read it. I look forward to reading more from Hughes.