A Modern Day Fairy Tale

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Review: The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner

From The Publisher:

“We understand what we want to understand.” Leaving a life of privilege to strike out on her own, Lauren Durough breaks with convention and her family’s expectations by choosing a state college over Stanford and earning her own income over accepting her ample monthly allowance. She takes a part-time job from 83-year-old librarian Abigail Boyles, who asks Lauren to transcribe the journal entries of her ancestor Mercy Hayworth, a victim of the Salem witch trials. Almost immediately, Lauren finds herself drawn to this girl who lived and died four centuries ago. As the fervor around the witch accusations increases, Mercy becomes trapped in the worldview of the day, unable to fight the overwhelming influence of snap judgments and superstition, and Lauren realizes that the secrets of Mercy’s story extend beyond the pages of her diary, living on in the mysterious, embittered Abigail. The strength of her affinity with Mercy forces Lauren to take a startling new look at her own life, including her relationships with Abigail, her college roommate, and a young man named Raul. But on the way to the truth, will Lauren find herself playing the helpless defendant or the misguided judge? Can she break free from her own perceptions and see who she really is?

My Thoughts:
Generally speaking, historical fiction is not a genre that interests me, but I have always been intrigued by the Salem witch trials and so I chose to review ‘The Shape of Mercy’ by Susan Meissner. I am so glad I did! Unlike other historical novels which can be quite hard to understand and well, for me personally- boring, this was neither. Weaving gracefully between modern day and 1692, we are drawn not just into the life of Mercy Hayworth- a young girl living in Salem accused of witchcraft; but also of Lauren- the college student who despite her wealth decided to try to make it on her own and took on a job transcribing the diary and of Abigail- the eccentric diary owner whose mysterious past was filled with loss. Through Mercy’s words and her newfound friend in Abigail, Lauren learns of love, loss and regret and finds out who she is in the process. Another unique quality in this story, despite its classification as a Christian fiction novel, it is not overtly religious as some tend to be. This does not usually bother me personally, but I know it can be a bit much for some. While the spirituality in these characters is obvious and important in some ways to the story, it is not overkill. I think that will allow a wider audience to enjoy this beautiful story and I hope they do, I found it a must read and could not put down once I found the time to get into it! Cannot wait to read some more writings by this wonderful author.

To read the first chapter or purchase the book, click here.

*Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. All opinions are my own.


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