Review of Mercy Road, Nicholas Gagnier

Mercy Road is the third novel from Nicholas Gagnier I have read, and I have come to realise his storytelling is nothing less than addictive.

The verb ‘devoured’ is probably the best way to describe how I read Mercy Road. This story is fast paced yet, to paraphrase Gandalf the Grey, everything happens precisely when it is meant to. Several narratives unwind and intertwine yet Harper remains at the centre of it all; a young woman I could only describe as everything modern literature needs.

I don’t mean ‘a strong female character’. I mean a character who has to shoulder the complexities of being a human, an adolescent, a daughter, a sibling, a friend, a victim, a patient and a witness, who just happens to be female. Harper is a fourteen year old girl we can all relate to in some way and when it comes to carrying her world on her shoulders, well, let’s just say she does a better job than Atlas. The reason Harper’s story resonates is Gagnier’s unfaltering dedication to his characters. His characters tell their stories, rather than Gagnier telling a story with characters.

What impresses me, time and time again, is his ability to write about good versus evil on both a mortal and immortal plain and the way a moral compass points in all directions, without ever losing sight of the world around him. Gagnier maintains a firm hold on the societies we live in and grew up in, and global issues which span centuries, whilst still allowing us glimpses of the omniscient powers in his universe. I personally cannot wait to read more.

In short, Mercy Road is about more than the aftermath a family experiences after discovering their neighbour kept a woman as a prisoner. It is about death, loss, healing, family, love and failure. Mercy Road is a story which makes you wonder if you were Harper, Grace or George, what would you have done?

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