Beautiful and Full of Humor, Bourbon and Rivalries | Review: Misercordias by Carson McKenna

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I've always said that Instagram is a great place to meet fellow readers amongst our little community, but another fantastic perk is the discovery of authors and literature that were previously unknown to you. HELLO, Carson McKenna! (And, P.S., dearest readers, if you missed Carson's guest post last week--definitely check it out here!)


Welcome to Kentucky, where bourbon is king and old rivalries die hard. The Foleys and the Walshes are famous foes whose bourbon distilleries sit next door to each other on the Kentucky Bourbon trail. Their feud dates back to the 1960s, when Wilkie Walsh sued Sullivan Foley in what was later deemed "the Trial of the Century." Lines were drawn, bridges burned, and 12 FT high hedges were erected to separate the aristocratic Foleys from the wild Walshes. If any Walsh crosses the property line, Mr. Foley reserves the right to shoot him. This is how it's been for 50 years. Blaise, the Foley heiress, has inherited more than aged bourbon and old money. By birthright, she despises the family next door-with all the passion and fire befitting her red hair. When Patrick Walsh ruins Blaise's 21st birthday with a stunt that gets him shot by her Daddy, Blaise wonders why he won't just leave her alone. As time goes on and Blaise slowly allows Pat beyond the hedges, she accepts that he couldn't do that if he tried. And neither can she...Misercordias is a Romeo and Juliet story, if Romeo drank 110 proof bourbon instead of poison, and Juliet conspired to stab her father rather than herself. It's the first book in a quadrilogy about the Foleys and Walshes, two dynastic Irish families whose histories are deeply interwoven-whether they like it or not. Though the flagship story is told in 2014, it pivots back in time to 1920 and 1930, describing how Black-Jack Walsh came to America during Prohibition to traffic the Foley's bourbon. Jack became the era's most notorious bootlegger, earning a massive treasure that's been missing since his murder in 1948 (though his descendants, including Pat, never lose hope on finding it...). This story contains a landmine of secrets, a cemetary of skeletons, and a trove of buried treasure...and we're only in Book 1.

Misercordias by Carson McKenna 
Rating: ★★★★★

"I knew that the risks were high. But the rewards were incurably higher."

As always, a copy of this book was provided by the publisher or author in exchange for my honest review. This does not effect my opinion in any way.

Grab your bourbon. Hold fast to your feuds. And dream of old money and star-crossed lovers. It's time to dive into one of my favourite indie reads of the year: Misercordias. Which, to be perfectly honest, I can't say enough good things about.

There are several ways to capture my attention when it comes to literature. This may include, but are not limited to, fiery characters (who surprise you and may or may not be stabby*), re-imaginings of classic stories, and a set within a world of intrigue. Add in just the right hint of snarky dialogue, the desire to know all the secrets and history of the main families, and a pinch of morally gray moments, and, well, the stars have truly aligned. You're--er, I'm--in it for the long haul.

*Stabby is totally a technical term now. Meaning, are these characters going to stab someone? Emotionally? Physically? WE JUST DON'T KNOW. BUT, THEY SEEM STABBY, OKAY?

(Also, if there's a character with a nickname like, say, Egghead, I'm even more keen.)

Fortunately for me, and in turn each of you, Carson McKenna's magnificent Misercordias includes a variation of all of the above. Misercordias is pitched as a bourbon soaked Romeo and Juliet inspired tale and only builds on its promised tension and dramatics. The story builds in a way that is perfectly paced; expertly woven into the bigger picture somehow slowly and quickly.

At its very core, this is a story that will spark a familiarity in the reader without seeming like the same old tale being told--McKenna doesn't allow this story to become anything but her own, and it develops beautifully. In-fact, she bends this story into something that is equal parts new and familiar. Which is all one could hope for when it comes to retellings or works that are inspired by tales of yesterdays.

Misercordias fashions itself into a novel that is impossible to put down and full of so much intrigue, readers will devour it as quickly as they can and wonder: "Where's book two?"

Towards the final quarter of the book, after Blaise makes her intentions known about what she'd like to see happen to her father, until the final pages, I found myself nearly hopping onto Instagram to message McKenna myself and say, hey, it's me, crazy girl you don't know, but like, I HAVE QUESTIONS AND ALSO WHERE'S BOOK TWO?

I decided internet shouting would be highly inappropriate and/or annoying. So, naturally, I saved it for my review. Because what's a Booked J review without a little incoherent babbling? Is it even a review? (No.) Also I didn't want to stop reading, but that's besides the point.

(Back on track... back on track...)

McKenna's writing is smooth and easy to slip into. Her characters are beautifully crafted, colourful and full of life. (Blaise might be one of my favourite characters of the year, FYI. I mean, how could she not be?) If you are a fan of novels that send a jolt of energy through your body as you read, then this is definitely the book for you. Misercordias leaves you feeling surprised, engrossed and is a wild ride from start to finish.

Not only is the plotline of Misercordias entirely all-consuming and entertaining, these characters had me snorting back laughter many times. There's plenty to love about Misercordias, but I think I was most impressed by the fact that it might have killed me--not physically, just emotionally. (Or maybe I just stole that line from a character. Guess you guys will have to read the book to find out, huh?)

In short? Misercordias was one of my favourite reads of the year and such a blast--learn the name Carson McKenna, because we're going to see great things from her in the future. I have a feeling I am going to be buzzing about this novel for a very long time.

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