Thursday, June 12, 2014

Review: The Merciless by Danielle Vega

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I received this book for free from Penguin Canada in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Merciless by Danielle VegaThe Merciless by Danielle Vega
Published by Razorbill on June 12th 2014
Genres: Horror, YA
Source: Penguin Canada
Buy on Amazon

Forgive us, Father, for we have sinned

Brooklyn Stevens sits in a pool of her own blood, tied up and gagged. No one outside of these dank basement walls knows she’s here. No one can hear her scream.

Sofia Flores knows she shouldn’t have gotten involved. When she befriended Riley, Grace, and Alexis on her first day at school, she admired them, with their perfect hair and their good-girl ways. They said they wanted to save Brooklyn. They wanted to help her. Sofia didn’t realize they believed Brooklyn was possessed.

Now, Riley and the girls are performing an exorcism on Brooklyn—but their idea of an exorcism is closer to torture than salvation. All Sofia wants is to get out of this house. But there is no way out. Sofia can’t go against the other girls . . . unless she wants to be next. . . .

In this chilling debut, Danielle Vega delivers blood-curdling suspense and terror on every page. By the shockingly twisted end, readers will be faced with the most haunting question of all: Is there evil in all of us?


This was my reaction to much of this novel’s… happenings. It’s a horror through and through, and definitely not for the wussies or faint of hearts. After a quick introduction to our protagonist and the setting, we’re thrust into a house-of-torture kind of read where these girls have it in their head that one is a demon that must be exorcised.

“Most girls would just start a burn book.”

But not these girls! These girls opt for pulling hairs out of scalps and taking fingernails out. Yeah.. Excuse me while I go barf!

The book itself is more for the horror and shock value than substance. Character development is not especially strong, for instance. And I found myself frustrated by the number of times the protagonist “almost” got the upper hand in this story – 20 pages spent on her plan to get the girls drugged so she can escape, just to fail in 10 seconds, and so on. But it does offer a pretty decent horror story, nonetheless. And like I said, it’s also not for the faint of heart, let me tell you right now. You’ll be reading detailed accounts of torture including someone’s nail getting ripped out without anything left out of its description. I even had to skip a few pages during a part that involved cockroaches and a dead body. No details spared there either! No, thanks!!

Where there’s a lack in character development, there’s also lacks emotion and depth. While I was horrified by what these girls were doing, I was not crying over any death that occurred in this story. I was just mostly grossed out and traumatized by the lengths they were going to remove this supposed “evil” from this girl. Though, even with the extremes, it’s not exactly unbelievable, especially in light of stories in the news at the moment about girls stabbing each other to prove something to a fictional character created by the internet. This made it all the more shocking to read, to be honest.

Throughout the book, we get flashbacks from our protagonist that quickly tells us she has dark secrets of her own. We also learn a bit of the other girls’ secrets as well, but the main characters’ story ends up being the one with the most meaning. It lent purpose to the story’s twist. Personally, I actually really liked the ending, but I can also see it being a hit or miss for most. I found it to be a good and unique angle the author decided to adopt.

Overall, is pretty much the whole of the book: A one-night stay in a torture-filled house with no escape and a bunch of psychopathic teenagers. There’s not much more I can say about it, really. It’s plain and simply a cheap-thrill kind of read that I would recommend to true horror fans.


3 Hot Espressos

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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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23 Responses to “Review: The Merciless by Danielle Vega”

  1. Louisse @ The Soul Sisters

    OMGEEE. This seriously sounds like my kind of book! It’s so rare to find a really gruesome complete horror YA novel and I’m glad that The Merciless finally came up. I am seriously so excited to read this one! Eeep.

  2. Megan @ Adrift on Vulcan

    I’ve been looking forward to this book for AGES! I’m kind of disappointed that you only gave it three stars, but at least the horror part lived up to your expectations — that was the part I was looking forward to most. Though the characterization sounds like it would bother me quite a bit. I’m not a fan of when the author builds things up for a loooong time, only to let the reader down. That’s just mean. And gah about the lack of emotions part. Doesn’t sound like it’ll be easy to sympathize with the characters at all.

    Great review as always, Giselle! I’m a little on the fence about whether I should spend money to get this book, since my library’s unreliable. Maybe I’ll just get the e-book…

  3. Tammy@ Books, Bones & Buffy

    I actually loved this, and the lack of character development didn’t really bother me, because it was so horrific and suspenseful. And I did love the ending and thought it was a great twist. But yes, fun for lovers of horror but if you don’t like horror this is not for you!

  4. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    I’m already shuddering reading your review, Giselle and I might be a masochist, I’m very curious about this book and will definitely be reading it. I’m going to keep what you had to say about the cockroaches in mind, so I can skip that one as soon as I come across it. There’s nothing more I’m terrified than cockroaches, especially ones with WINGS!!
    It’s a shame about the character development though. It seems like in focusing on the horror and shock value, the author didn’t focus much on the characters. Still going to try this one out for sure though!
    Fabulous review, Giselle!

  5. Tina

    Well, I think I want to read this. Not because it sounds amazing and the lack of character development will probably kill me, but because it sounds completely different from anything I’ve read in a while. And I could use a change!!!!! Excited to see if I agree on the ending 🙂

  6. Pili

    I’m not a big big fan of true horror so I think I’ll pass on this one! Thanks for the warning and the honest review, Giselle!

  7. Rashika

    You should see the expression on my face now. Cockroaches and a dead body? Ripping out nails? NO THANKS. SORRY. I have a weak heart and will most likely have nightmares if I read this..

    My eyes are still bugging out right now while I type this.. I mean I expected this book to be horror like but hot damn that seems SCARY.

    It really sucks though that there is no character development and we are dealing with a bunch of teenage psychopaths (that’s scary in it’s own right!)

    I think I am going to go think happy thoughts for a while now…

  8. Michelle

    Okay, this one just sounds amazing, period. Looking at the cover really makes it look like a girly chick-lit, and I guess that’s the real mystery behind the book. 🙂 The summary sounds really intriguing and I’ll have to go pick this one up ASAP! I love horror stories, hehe. Great review as always, Giselle!

  9. Michelle (Pink Polka Dot Books)

    Woah this sounds so much creepier and gory than I was expecting!! I kind of love that. It stinks that the characters aren’t more developed, but I don’t mind reading a book just for shock value every now and again 🙂

  10. Zoe @ The Infinite To-Read Shelf

    “It’s a horror through and through, and definitely not for the wussies or faint of hearts.” Darn it…that means I’m out – LOL!

    Haha…just kidding! 😉 This actually sounds right up my alley! I love an occasional well-done horror story, so I’m really excited for this one – even if the character development and the emotional connection aren’t quite as good as they could have been, at leas the actual story makes up for that, so I think I can forgive it for that.

    Thanks for sharing Giselle, and, as always, BRILLIANT review! Definitely going to give this a try & hope to not get too creeped out! 😉

  11. Dea S.

    I love horror movies but for some reason avoided horror books like the plague. Now this book might just change my mind… It doesn’t even matter that it lacks substance. I WANT TO READ IT.

  12. Meredith

    Ugh, why all the disgusting aspects?! Horror or thriller novels do not have to have that in them for them to be good. With that being said, I think I will still read the book due to my thirsty curiosity. Great review, Giselle!

  13. Faye D'Social Potato (@kawaiileena)



    I mean I know it’s just a three-star read from you, but OMG, I love horror so much. I like horror stories, and I need more of them in YA. I think I just found my love letter to me in this book. I really need this. Like, right now. *heads to Amazon* THANKS FOR REVIEWING THIS GISELLE!! I WOULDN’T HAVE KNOWN OTHERWISE!!

  14. Lisa (Fic Talk)

    While I do have a thing for horror stories in YA, I don’t think I care much for the lack of character development and the shock value aspect of the grotesque things done in the book. Thanks for the honest review, Giselle!

  15. Carmel @ Rabid Reads

    I’m a wuss, and it you AAHH’d all the way through this one, I can only imagine what my reaction would be! I’m not a true horror fan, so count me out. Lovely review though!

  16. Kaitlin @ Reading is My Treasure

    Awe, man. 🙁 I was hoping this book would have a little more depth and character development. I would probably still like the book, but I think I would get a bit annoyed at it being more for shock value than anything. Great review!

  17. Mary Jane

    Wow! ugh just by your description alone with the torture is leaving me creep-ed out…and WANTING MORE!!!! lol the cover alone is beautiful and i thiiiink i may just purchase for beauty reasoning’s. (confessions confessions.)however, the story sounds worthy to reach my tbr pile. reminds me of like chucky or