Thursday, August 23, 2018

Book Review: The Merciless III by Danielle Vega

Title: The Merciless III: Origins of Evil
Author: Danielle Vega
Publication Date: July 11, 2017
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 304
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Brooklyn knows that there's no good without evil, no right without wrong. And when a helpless girl calls her teen helpline, whispering that someone is hurting her, Brooklyn knows that she needs to save her anonymous caller, even if it means doing something bad.

Her parents and friends assure her the call was probably a prank but Brooklyn has always had a tendency to take over, whether someone has asked for help or not.

She discovers the call came from Christ First Church and finds herself plunged into the cultish community of its youth group. She's especially drawn to Gavin, the angelic yet tortured pastor's son.

Torn between an unstoppable attraction to Gavin and her obsession with the truth, Brooklyn is forced to make a devastating choice to rid Christ Church of evil once and for all. . . . But the devil has plans for Brooklyn's soul. 

I have loved the first two installments of this series, although it only just occurred to me that I never got around to reviewing book two... whoops! I finally got my hands on a gorgeous copy of The Merciless III: Origins of Evil (seriously, it's shiny!) and started reading it immediately. I'm always on the hunt for a YA horror that's actually scary and I know that this series never disappoints.

The third book in The Merciless series is actually a prequel. In this story we get to go back and find out Brooklyn's story, which begins with Brooklyn wanting to help her community by setting up a teen hotline. Not quite the Brooklyn we all know. When she gets a distraught call from a girl and finds out the call is coming from a local church, she decides to do a little detective work, but quickly finds herself pulled into the church's youth group. Of course, it has to do with a guy. Gavin is the pastor's son and he and his sister, Hope, bring her into their friend group where things seem great at first, but quickly start to get a little too weird.

First of all, it was so weird to see Brooklyn's backstory, but I really loved the insight it gave into how she became the Brooklyn from The Merciless. Gavin and Hope were both intriguing characters. I was never quite sure what to think of them or who to trust. It was clear from the first page that something was off (hello, this is a horror book), but I loved that Danielle Vega is able to keep me guessing!

The Merciless III is super fast paced and creepy from start to finish. Towards the end things start to get more scary than creepy, and I honestly found myself getting a little too creeped out to read late at night a couple times. While it isn't the scariest YA I've read, it gets the job done without being overly gory or graphic. It kept me turning pages!

My favorite thing about this book is the way it ended right back where it needed to in order to tie into the first one. Usually I'd be bothered that this third installment wasn't just released first, but after reading the others I can understand why this order works better. Although I already knew how Brooklyn would ultimately end up, I enjoyed seeing how it got there and it didn't ruin the mystery at all.

Origins of Evil is a solid third book/prequel in this series. I'll say that The Merciless as a whole is not for people who only want to get a little creeped out at Halloween. Do not read this book if you're not looking for horror! On a scale of Goosebumps to The Shining I'd probably rank it about 3/4 of the way. I can't wait to read the fourth one!