Reviewed by Kat
TITLE: Strange Mercy
AUTHOR: Francis Gideon
PUBLISHER: Less Than Three Press, LLC
LENGTH: 21,000 words
RELEASE DATE: December 14, 2016
Bryan wants to surprise his family by coming home for the holidays—but instead, finds himself staying in a hotel because the house is already filled with the rest of his family, including his estranged sister. Disappointed and hurt, Bryan spends his first night home at the local music store.
The holidays look up slightly when he meets a cute clerk named Jordan who also seems bummed out by the Christmas spirit. The two bond, but when tensions with Bryan’s family and their holiday gathering only seem to get worse, Bryan starts to wonder if he would have been better not coming home at all.
This is a short novella about a Musicology PHD student going home for Christmas.
Bryan has traveled home to surprise his parents for Christmas early. But the surprise is on him when his entire family is coming home also for the holidays and he is being booked to stay in a local hotel instead of his family home. His parents reasoning was that it is cheaper and easier to put him up at the hotel than one of his sisters and their families. When visiting the local music instrument shop he used to work in, he discovers a past fellow student, Jordan, who is in a punk rock band. The two men decide to meet up for a drink and “Strange Mercy” is the story of what happens next.
I am usually a fan of Francis Gideon books and was surprised that this one never really connected with me. The characters were sweet but truly didn’t grab hold of my attention and make me want more to develop. I don’t know if it was the “preachiness” that didn’t do it for me, in the past interactions between Bryan and his oldest sister and her husband but I found that I kept myself in check. I liked the quirkiness of the characters but the story was just a little droll. Not bad, but just not enough to engage me. There were quite a few side characters thrown at you but they never really developed into anything more.
A nice little Christmas novella but, for me, left me feeling a bit flat and wondering why.