#BookReview: THE UNDERTAKING OF HART AND MERCY by Megan Bannen @MeganBannen @orbitbooks

Publication: 25th August 2022 – Orbit

The Princess Bride meets You’ve Got Mail in this enchantingly quirky, completely refreshing fantasy with a rom-com-worthy premise, perfect for readers of The House in the Cerulean Sea and The Invisible Library.

Hart is a marshal, tasked with patrolling the magical wilds of Tanria. It’s an unforgiving job, and he’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-ache Hart, the man with a knack for showing up right when her patience is thinnest.

After yet another run-in with Merciless Mercy, Hart finds himself penning a letter addressed simply to “A Friend”. Much to his surprise, he receives an anonymous reply, and a tentative friendship is born. Little does Hart know he’s baring his soul to the person who infuriates him most. . .

Set in a world equally full of magic and demigods as it is donuts and small-town drama, this utterly unique fantasy is sure to sweep you off your feet.



I just finished reading this novel and I want to reread it all over again. Hart and Mercy captured my heart and their story is beautiful, romantic, and heart-warming.

Hart Ralston is a demi-god marshal who is tasked to rid the magical world of Tanria of the drudges, reanimated corpses inhabited by the souls of those who have died, and then he delivers them to the undertakers. Mercy Birdsall has been managing the family undertaking business, Birdsall & Son, since her father’s retirement, keeping it afloat while her brother finishes his studies.

When Hart and Mercy met four years ago, it was hate at first sight. She calls him “Hart-ache”, he calls her “Mercy-less” and, the few times they meet, a battle of wits and insults begins. After yet another exchange of taunts, Hart takes pen and paper and pours his feelings in a letter to “A Dear Friend” never imagining that that letter would reach anyone and that someone would reply. And as the exchange of letters grows more frequent and he is more honest than he’s ever been, he could never imagine that the person replying to him, laying her own heart bare, is none other than his nemesis, Mercy Birdsall. 

The thing I loved most about this novel is its two incredible protagonists. Hart is grumpy and anti-social, but also kind and sweet. He wonders about his true parentage and (im)mortality, he works all day and he feels very lonely, especially since the death of his mentor and father-figure. Mercy is fun, compassionate, and determined. She has dedicated her life to her job and her family. She loves her job as an undertaker and she is really good at it, even if her own family thinks they know what’s best for her. Both book lovers and dog lovers, Hart and Mercy are opposites, but they also have more in common than they think and their love story is superb and emotional.

The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy is a grumpy vs sunshine, enemies-to-lovers fantastic love story that made me laugh and it made me cry, it made me stay up late at night to finish reading it. I loved the letters Hart and Mercy write to each other and I enjoyed their banter. The world-building is fantastic, there are gods, old and new, semi-gods, dead bodies, and talking animals who deliver mail. All in all, The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy is an addictive and unique novel and I couldn’t recommend it enough!

I am very grateful to Orbit for providing me with a proof of this beautiful novel.

Megan Bannen is a former librarian and a full-time writer. While most of her professional career has been spent behind the reference desk, she has also sold luggage, written grants, collected a few graduate degrees from various Kansas state universities, and taught English at home and abroad. She lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, two sons, and a lot of pets

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