Title: Mercurial
Author: Naomi Hughes
Genre: Fiction/ Fantasy/ YA
Source: NetGalley
Rating: 4/5

Favourite Quote: ‘She was fire, she was mercury, she was death.’

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley.*

The Destroyer is feared by all, her blood filled with mercury, she is a weapon of pure destruction used by the Iron Empress to do her bidding. Filled with fire and hatred from endless assassination attempts on her life from when she was young, it doesn’t take much to make her angry and dangerous. When a stranger shows up offering to protect her with a metal oath, she can’t help but feel intrigued by him knowing he is the only person she can actually trust to keep her safe. After yet another assassination attempt, she finds herself in the middle of wreckage with no memory or magic, a completely different personality with a new identity, she looks to Tal as the only other survivor to discover the truth.

Tal is a silver smith, silver ran through his blood like a curse, a death sentence if he was ever discovered. His blood gives him the divine gift of foresight into the future, visions through the Unforged God himself. When a vision pushes him to become a protector for the Destroyer, the princess weaponised by the Iron Empress and feared by all, Tal does not hesitate to follow his new path, believing his part will eventually save the empire. Once sworn on metal, his oath is unbreakable until the fulfilment of its terms are complete, or death. He soon becomes lost in the darkness that surrounds the Destroyer, unable to escape, unable to understand his path that is consuming more of his humanity through each kill to protect her. When the opportunity suddenly presents itself to finally be rid of the oath, Tal instead finds himself questioning everything he ever knew and the person behind it all.

‘When the guard staggered backwards and crumbled to the polished wooden boards of the great porch, the boy began to realise with dawning horror, what had just happened.
The Destroyer had been threatened. And his oath had compelled him to defend her.
The Destroyer stepped forward. Something was bright in her eyes, and the boy couldn’t tell if it was madness or hope. “What’s your name?” she asked, ignoring the wet, rattling breathing of the dying guard.
The boy’s swords hung now at his sides, dead weight. He wanted to drop them. He couldn’t. “Tal,” he managed after a moment. “Tal Melaine.”‘

This is one of those stories that just gets better around every corner and I’m sorry it took me so long to pick up on my NetGalley list that seems to be never ending. It’s got all the pieces and the author did a fantastic job at putting it all together. Whilst I believe that, the story also didn’t blow me away which is why it isn’t a full stars review. I liked the characters, I loved the plot and the magical elements and creatures were unique and unpredictable, I just wanted a bit more of something between the characters, a little more of a push of emotion here and there between them to get me emotionally invested. It didn’t give me a book hangover that had me craving more, just a content ending that I was able to put down and move on without much thought.

There were parts of this book that were so unique and wonderful. I especially liked the magical element through metal, certain people were born with various metal in their blood that gave them abilities such as healing, crafting, alchemy as well as power over the elements. This divided society and social standing in ways it didn’t look into which felt a bit lacking, I was intrigued by it all and felt the author could have created more depth into the magical world she created.

The story is told through three perspectives, Princess Eloide (The Destroyer), Tal her bodyguard and Nyx, Tal’s sister. I do have to say, the character build up was excellent, you really got to know them through their actions and flashbacks throughout their story, each one being pushed in a direction they didn’t want to take, forming a connection between them they never realised they had.

Once, there was a boy who believed..

Tal was a great character who stood strong for his beliefs in his role as the princess’ protector. While he did clearly regret his choice taking the oath and being stuck by the side of the most dangerous weapon at the Iron Empress’ disposal, he knew he played an important part of bringing peace to the empire, he just had to wait out the horrors that came along with it. He was exactly how you would picture a young bodyguard; deadly, silent and strong. He kept his anger deep within himself and only started to show any emotion when his princess suddenly became innocent and human. Even then though, he was still too unemotional for me to really fall in love with his character.

Once, there was a girl who was afraid..

Elodie The Destroyer was definitely the best character for me, she was amazingly layered and dynamic, her character development was strong throughout and you couldn’t help but love her through it all. As the Destroyer, she’s adapted to a life being feared and powerful and uses it to her advantage to keep herself safe. She’s a recluse who doesn’t connect to anyone on any real level besides her sister where formality and titles are dominant. The only person she trusts is Tal, and that’s only because he is bound to her and has no choice. When she loses her powers, her character completely changes to an innocent young woman with a sense of humour and lacking basic survival instincts. I would have liked to have seen a bit more emotion to her character, especially since she knew she felt some connection to Tal with or without her mercury abilities.

Once, there was a girl who believed only in her brother..

Nyx. I’m honestly not sure what to say about her. I’m getting the impression that you either love her or you hate her. Whilst she was a strong interesting character that did bring the story together, I didn’t like her personality. She was so angry and obsessed with saving her brother, she refused to believe in anything different than killing the Destroyer to solve all their problems, even if it meant sacrificing herself. She was so blinded by rage and hate, she couldn’t see the whole story. Yeah she had spent the last few years of her life becoming a skilled assassin, but it wasn’t the only thing she had and it made me feel sorry for Helenia, always coming second place after Tal. It felt like she was taking life for granted at times.
I did love her relationship with Helenia, it was sweet and the one piece of happiness in the whole book. As an additional character, Helenia was probably the most powerful piece of the puzzle, she was always there in time to save the day and asked for nothing in return. She held the right balance for all the characters with her desire to see Nyx happy and to help lead the rebellion against the empire. She was a complete badass.

‘In a single sentence, Helenia stripped away all of Elodie’s imagined control, and she did it without ever letting her smile fall. Elodie began to realise that she had underestimated this girl. Helenia’s face still radiated warmth and naivety, but Elodie began to see now how she might use that as a weapon.’

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves a good middle grade/ ya fantasy full of unique magic, enemies to lovers, and unexpected plot twists around every corner! Check it out!

Goodreads Blurb:
Everyone in the Alloyed Empire fears the Destroyer. The metal in her blood gives her incendiary powers, and the coldness in her heart makes her the
empress’s perfect weapon…until a rebel attack leaves her with no magic and no memories.
Her bodyguard, Tal, has long since regretted his idealistic hope of saving the Destroyer. Now that she’s powerless he can finally end her reign of terror—if he can stop himself from falling for the wicked, funny, utterly unfamiliar girl she’s become.
Nyx was furious when her brother, Tal, abandoned her to protect a tyrant. Now, she hones herself as a rebel assassin until she can kill the Destroyer and rescue Tal. But the closer she gets, the more she realizes the entire empire hinges on the decisions the three of them will make…

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Hey! I'm Gemma :) I moved to Japan with my husband and cat three years ago which has been one big adventure. The only downside (besides missing my family and dairymilk) is that I've moved to a country where English bookshops are limited, plus the idea of transporting so many books back home sounds dreadfully expensive. I've grown to love my Kindle which is why I'm fixated on ebooks. It connects nicely to my goodreads and netgalley account also which means I'm always adding more to my never ending list of books. I read fiction and love all things fantasy, YA, historical fiction and classics. Add a bit of mystery and I'll be hooked!

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