“Your life would be easier if I were dead,” she says, folding her hands in front of her and staring at them.
“My life would be easier if I had a mother.”
“You haven't got a shred of love left for me,” Mama says, her breathing uneven from holding back tears.
“You've saved it all up for a girl who doesn't even know your name.”
Illa looks at her sharply. “What are you talking about?”
“I saw the photo in your backpack, Illa. And you never shut up about her during the season.”
“How dare you look through--”
It is dialogue like this, found throughout Keija Parssinen's latest novel, The Unraveling of Mercy Louis, that seizes you from the first page and holds you tight up until the last sentence Keija writes. Then, and only then, are you finally able to breathe again.
Keija is the author of The Ruins of Us, a debut novel that I fell in love with and reviewed here. The Ruins of Us was rich in storytelling and captivating with characters that felt as if they shared my same air. This same capacity for living breathing characters again holds true for Keija's latest work, The Unraveling of Mercy Louis.
The Ruins of Us had me keening over family and sacrifice, but here, with her latest work, Keija had me looking over my shoulder, shuddering in fear as I read deep into the night. Stephen King instantly came to mind as Keija deftly conjures to life the unsettling backdrop of the small Texas town of Port Sabine where The Unraveling of Mercy Louis takes place.
Repression, suppression, societal shame, and jealousy, are mixed in with the cauldron of the bible belt and religious fervor. A young woman burgeoning on adolescence in Port Sabine stands no chance of surviving what has taken hold of this town over one sweltering Texas summer.
The Unraveling of Mercy Louis is chilling, dark and surprising. It's everything you hope to find in an enthralling novel. As you slowly watch the young women in the town of Port Sabine succumb one by one, you'll want to turn up all the lights in your house.
Keija Parssinen's latest work grips you from the start, and its contemporary theme, that of a town's star held up to the standard of perfection and what happens when they fall, is perfectly timed to our world today. In giving the reader a heart-pounding psychological thriller where young women are castigated for being human, Keija as author, expertly shows us no mercy.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the Devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
The Unraveling of Mercy Louis is available here, where you can also purchase Keija’s first novel, The Ruins of Us.
Leave a comment below for a chance at winning The Unraveling of Mercy Louis.
Click over to read more reviews and enter more giveaways for Parssinen's The Unraveling of Mercy Louis at the blogs gfunkified and SurrenderDorothy .
Keija directs the Quarry Heights Writers’ Workshop and works with students in Cedar Crest College’s low-residency Pan-European MFA program. She lives in Columbia, Missouri with her husband and son. She earned her MFA at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was a Truman Capote fellow. Find out more about Keija here.
You want this book.
*Also: how does someone who looks like they go to the farmer's market every Friday morning for sunflowers and cockscomb, write a book like this?? Mysteries of the universe.
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