Review by Booklist Review
Mercy Birdsall and Hart Ralston hated each other on their first meeting. Any time Hart, a demigod and marshal, brought in drudge (zombie) remains to Birdsall & Son's, he loved to see Mercy's dog Leonard, but dreaded seeing Mercy herself as all they did was insult each other. Tanria, the land they all live in, is seeing quite an increase of drudge sightings. Hart is a lonely soul and writes a letter that he simply addresses to "a friend," never realizing that it would end up being delivered to Mercy. Unknowingly writing to each other, they begin to develop strong feelings for their pen pals. Hart finds out that Mercy is his "friend" and tries to get a hold on what his feelings for Mercy really are. An attack from a drudge brings Mercy and Hart together, but he does not let on that he is the person she was writing to. Carrying that secret while he and Mercy fall in love is a bomb waiting to drop. Along with the romance, there is a mystery involving a rival undertaker and the creation of drudges. This quirky mash-up will entertain romance readers, especially those that enjoy the enemies-to-lovers trope.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Bannen's adult debut (after The Bird and the Blade) mixes You've Got Mail, Wyatt Earp, and The Walking Dead to create an ambitious but uneven fantasy rom-com. Hart Ralston, a demigod and marshal in the Old West--inspired land of Tanria, is so lonely that he looks forward to his trips to Birdsall & Son Undertakers. At least when he's dropping off zombie remains (called drudges), he can play with the dog belonging to his nemesis, undertaker Mercy Birdsall. When Hart writes an anonymous letter to no one in particular--he addresses it "Dear friend"--as a way of processing his loneliness, the note is magically delivered via nimkilim (anthropomorphic messenger animals) to Mercy. It was hate at first sight when Hart and Mercy met in real life, but soon each falls for the other's pen pal persona--just in time for an uptick in drudges to get in the way of their romance. An overarching fantasy mystery about how and why drudges exist rests uneasily on top of this rom-com framework, and an abrupt tonal shift in the third act will throw many readers. Still, fans of the Ask a Mortician webseries and those who love gore and rom-coms in equal measure will find plenty to enjoy in this quirky outing. (Aug.)
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Review by Library Journal Review
DEBUT Hart Ralston, a marshal tasked with patrolling the magical lands of Tanria, drops off a body to his least favorite undertaker, Mercy Birdsall. A comment from their most recent verbal sparring sticks with him, spurring him to write a letter to no one, just a Friend. He slips it into the mailbox even though it couldn't possibly be delivered to anyone, but it does get delivered and ends up in the hands of the last woman he would ever want to read about his loneliness--Mercy, who is barely keeping her family undertaking business going. When family secrets begin piling up, the unexpected letter from a stranger gives Mercy the outlet she needs to feel less alone with her burdens. As danger brings Hart and Mercy closer together, can they overcome years of misunderstandings to find their way home to each other? VERDICT In Bannen's (Soulswift) adult debut, the roller coaster of Mercy and Hart's journey is full of sizzle and emotional turmoil, as well as plenty of sci-fi adventure and humor. Readers will be captivated by the land of Tanria and will want to stay connected with these characters long after the book ends.--Morgan Lockard
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