Publication Date: May 17, 2011
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
There’s something very wrong with me. I can’t remember who I am or how old I am, or even how I got here. All I know is that when I wake up, I could be any one. It is always this way. There’s nothing I can keep with me that will stay. It’s made me adaptable. I must always re-establish ties. I must tread carefully or give myself away. I must survive.Mercy doesn’t realise it yet, but as she journeys into the darkest places of the human soul, she discovers that she is one of the celestial host exiled with fallen angel, Lucifer. Now she must atone for taking his side. To find her own way back to heaven, Mercy must help a series of humans in crisis and keep the unwary from getting caught up in the games that angels play. Ultimately she must choose between her immortal companion, Lucifer, and a human boy who risks everything for her love.
Mercy has no body. She knows what she looks like, or what she used looked like a long, long time ago but she has no form until she falls into a temporary and unwitting host. Her curse is to be torn from one to another, over and over. The only constant presence in her mind is Luc, the boy she believes she’s destined to be with, who comes to her at night promising that she’s getting closer to finding him but warning that she must always be on guard against the Eight Brothers who want to keep her in her endless cycle of body to body transference.
This time Mercy abruptly awakens in the body of scrawny misfit Carmen Zappacosta, on her way to a town called Paradise to stay with a host family for a week while she prepares to sing at an event with her school choir. All is not right in the Daley household when Carmen arrives – both parents are just a little too cheerful and a little brittle and Carmen’s room obviously once belonged to their daughter – one that they no longer have. It doesn’t take long for her to find out that their daughter Lauren was kidnapped a year earlier and that her older brother Ryan hasn’t accepted that she might be dead and is still looking for her on his own. In her dreams, Luc warns her that she must do nothing or risk losing her chance to be with him again, but something compels Mercy/Carmen to help Ryan. In a bizarre twist, Mercy enhances Carmen’s own talents as a star soprano and may end up linking her to Lauren’s disappearance with deadly results.
I absolutely loved the concept of this story and Mercy’s character. It was very easy to forget she inhabited the body of a girl who was described as having the body of a ten-year old with eczema and crazy curly hair, especially when there were any whispers of romantic feelings with Ryan. Mercy didn’t retain memories of the bodies she’d been in for long, but she always tried to leave them in a better place than when she’d dropped into them. What they did after she was gone was up to them, but getting them out of abusive relationships or cleaning them up felt like her duty. I think the concept just provides endless opportunities for stories while still maintaining the core characters – I had an impression that Mercy was a bit like a paper doll. She was the same doll, but you could hang different people on top of her for each story. It seemed fascinating to me (and I had a zillion paper dolls when I was a kid, so I just had to have that in my head).
(ETA: A very smart person – Katelyn, who has her own blog of awesomeness - jump-started my brain, and I was thinking that I didn’t do a very good job of explaining Mercy’s body switching. I added it in the comment section, but for anyone not getting that far, here’s what I said:
Mercy’s like a loose soul, for lack of a better term. She keeps her own consciousness, but she’s essentially reincarnated for only a short time and only in “pre-existing” bodies. She gets thrust into one with no warning of who it will be or where [she's yanked into Carmen on the bus, mid-conversation with someone], although she does have sort of a sense of when she’s running out of time.
The body she’s in has no memory of being taken over and has only a blank area for the time she’s been in the body which is why she tries hard not to leave a big “footprint” of herself.
A big thank you to Katelyn for getting me to knock myself on the head to add some clarity!).
Since this really is Mercy’s book, Ryan felt more like a half-character. His obsession with his sister’s disappearance felt almost creepy sometimes and while I believed his friendship with Mercy, when I thought of him with “Carmen,” it just didn’t work. I liked Luc more, I think because there was so much about him that was left unexplained. There already was a relationship between he and Mercy before the story started and Lim captured that feeling of intimacy very well.
The mystery of Ryan’s sister’s disappearance was well-done and I didn’t find the tie-in to Mercy hard to believe at all if it’s possible she can be dropped in certain places for certain reasons. There was a little Scooby Doo feeling to Ryan and Mercy’s wrap-up of the case, but it was still suspenseful and it worked within the context of the story.
My Summary: This story occasionally suffered from a case of too many characters muddying the waters, but I still thought the mystery was well-played with the central characters. I really like the idea of a soul being dropped into body after body, with the question left open that each time there might be something Mercy needs to do – but she doesn’t know if that something will lead her closer or push her away from Luc. I desperately hope the author doesn’t try for a continued love triangle but instead lets Mercy and Luc’s story continue to play out on its own because that’s the one I’ll continue to pay to read.
My Rating: B+