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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Mercy Road is an urban fantasy novel written by Nicholas Gagnier. Harper had seen a lot for a thirteen-year-old. Most people would have said that she’d seen entirely too much. She was still trying to come to terms with the death of her police officer mom shortly after the two of them had an argument. Her dad was doing the best he could to be a single parent for Harper and her older brother Charles, but it was a struggle in so many ways especially considering that he was still processing his own grief at the loss of his wife. Then there was the matter of Grace Hawkins, the badly traumatized woman Harper, Charlie, and two neighborhood kids had found tied up in Arthur Locke’s basement. Harper’s dad had decided that she needed to seek therapy after her mom’s passing, and Charlotte, her therapist, was the last person she’d ever consider confiding in -- and the time spent in her claustrophobic office ticked by very, very slowly.
Nicholas Gagnier’s Mercy Road charts the coming of age of Harper Whitaker as she attempts to heal. As I read this compelling magical realism story, I couldn’t help but relive in my memory Harper Lee’s classic, To Kill a Mockingbird, and found that Harper, who had been given that name by her mom, lived up to it in every way, shape, and form. Harper’s mom would indeed have been very proud of her. Gagnier’s characters shift and develop as one reads the story, never static, but merging into the storyline. Charlotte, the awful and bland therapist, becomes something so much more than herself, and Harper’s passage into young adulthood is suitably complex even as her two role models/mentors are such entirely different beings. The plot is powerful and mesmerizing, especially the courtroom scenes where Arthur Locke is being tried. Mercy Road is a book to linger over even if the impulse is to keep on reading; there’s a lot in there waiting to be teased out by the patient and discerning reader -- and it’s all well worthwhile. Mercy Road is highly recommended.