Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Merciless

The Merciless
By Danielle Vega
Razorbill, 2014. 336 pages. Horror

Sofia Flores is a military kid, used to moving every six months, used to being a lone wolf. So when she's automatically embraced by the queen bee of her new high school in Friend, Mississippi, Sofia thinks she just might be able to fit in for the first time. Sure, her new friends are a little . . . intense about their religious convictions, but what's wrong with that?

So when Sofia ends up in the basement of an abandoned house with her new friends -- Riley, Grace, and Alexis -- to perform an "exorcism," she begins to wonder if she should have gotten involved with the girls at all. Their target? The high school's resident outcast and snark queen, Brooklyn Stevens. Riley says they want to help Brooklyn, but all the house's windows are nailed shut, the doors are padlocked, and Riley's the only one with a key . . . and the only one with a knife.

Brooklyn doesn't seem possessed to Sofia, but something about her behavior doesn't add up, either. And Riley's "exorcism" methods seem closer to sadistic torture than they do to exorcism. Torn between her morality and her sense of self-preservation, Sofia begins to play a dangerous game . . . and if she doesn't win, she'll pay with her life.

I'm not going to lie, this novel made me flinch. And squirm. I originally bought it for the YA collection, but after reviewing it, realized it would be better placed in adult fiction due to some graphic violence. However, for readers who enjoy Stephen King-esque horror, this is a phenomenal novel. Vega does a remarkable job in reversing Sofia's (and the reader's) loyalties to Riley and Brooklyn; one moment, we're certain Riley's a sociopath; the next, we're certain that Brooklyn is a possessed by some demon. For those looking for Mean Girls with an edge, this novel is for you.


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