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A Tangled Mercy

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  10,127 ratings  ·  1,046 reviews

Told in alternating tales at once haunting and redemptive, A Tangled Mercy is a quintessentially American epic rooted in heartbreaking true events examining the harrowing depths of human brutality and betrayal, and our enduring hope for freedom and forgiveness.

After the sudden death of her troubled mother, struggling Harvard grad student Kate Drayton walks out on her l

Kindle Edition, 464 pages
Published November 1st 2017 by Lake Union Publishing
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Katrina Hutchison I thought this as well. Except if she and Emily were half-sisters, wouldn't the DNA testing between Rose and the Russell family show that they are rec…moreI thought this as well. Except if she and Emily were half-sisters, wouldn't the DNA testing between Rose and the Russell family show that they are recently related. (less)
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Average rating 4.07  · 
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 ·  10,127 ratings  ·  1,046 reviews

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Diane S ☔
Dec 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
They say that the past is never really past, that it's tentacles often read into the present. No city is more indicative of this than Charleston. This city has a long, storied past, a beautiful city that for some was not always beautiful. A two thread story, one in the past, one in the present. The past story takes us back to the horrible issue of slavery, in particular 1822, and the Vessey slave revolt. This time in the novel focuses on a young, black man, a slave but one who is a talented blac ...more
Deanne Patterson
A haunting book, A Tangled Mercy held my attention gripped in it's claws from the first page. A time slip book it contains alternating chapters taking place in the modern time of 2015 and the past time of 1822. Based on true facts of what really happened in Charleston, South Carolina. The author has done an absolutely amazing job of research and presenting facts in this book.The writing though is not stiff and boring it flows and keeps you wanting to read it. The story touched on the slave rebel ...more
Anne Bogel
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
I've been excited about this one for a long time! The backstory of how this book came to be what it is is really incredible, and I hope Joy tells it publicly one day. The story itself is timely and engaging, and perfect for fans of historical fiction that flips back and forth in time, like you'd see in the works of Kate Morton or Susan Meissner.
Oct 10, 2017 rated it liked it
The idea has so much potential- Kate returns to Charleston after her mother’s death, hoping to unlock family secrets via her research on the slave revolt of 1822. This, set against the backdrop of the 2015 real-life mass murder at the Emmanuel AME church. But the execution is so clumsy and simplistic. Everyone significant in the story, Kate just happens to bump into on the street on her first day in Charleston: obligatory love interest, check; grand dame of Charleston society, check; potential d ...more

When I first started this book I felt ambivalent about the way this book is written. Chapter by chapter, the story fluctuates between the years 1822 with the planning of the failed slave revolt and 2015 with Kate Drayton running back to Charleston after the death of her mother to find answers as to why her mother, Sarah Grace, ran away from Charleston many years ago. It may seem confusing at first, but soon I fell into the rhythm. The time spent in 1822 centers around the blacksmith sl
Melissa Crytzer Fry
Dec 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I am not a mystery reader, but found myself engaged with this novel from the start – likely because this is a hybrid of a story: it reads like a mystery, but also is a historical novel with a dual contemporary-commercial story running right alongside it.

I adore historical fiction, and the southern setting and time period have a special place in my heart (as a research period and locale for my own work). I enjoyed the peek into the 1800s setting and into the conflicting attitudes of women in slav
A Tangled Mercy is a historical fiction novel set in pre-Civil War and present day Charleston, South Carolina, with the real-moment-in-time Vesey slave uprising of 1822 centering the story. The historical setting and details in this novel are fascinating, and I did find the book to be reminiscient of Kate Morton's novels, which I love. However, I couldn't overcome a pervasive sense that the author was overreaching, stretching the story if you will, and just generally trying too hard to fit every ...more
Sarah Armistead
A Tangled Mercy is the best book I have read in a long time. The writer did a great job of holding my interest and I hated to put it down. She did a wonderful job in her research in Charleston and her writing is easy to read. I loved the way she went back and forth from 1822 to 2015 and how it all tied together. It kept me guessing all along as to the ending which was a pleasant surprise. My favorite books are historical fiction and this is one of the best.
Nov 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book made me want to visit Charleston, SC someday.

Never was a city so sweet on itself than Charleston.

It is our unfortunate characteristics that make any of us interesting. Those of us, I might add, who are interesting.

The past is never dead. It's not even past. - William Faulkner

Hard not to spend up the life we've got now railing at what we wish hadn't been.

The most important votes, dear, that one ever places are with one's feet.

Sometimes the people with the softest hearts can't quit bea
Beth Jackson-jordan
Jun 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was captivated by this story from beginning to end. The characters in this story are not perfect - they struggle with courage, conviction and self-doubt - which makes them very relatable. The tragic history of slavery that still haunts our society in the form of institutionalized racism is addressed with honesty and insight. I was impressed by the depth of research on historical as well as contemporary events woven into this story. Having visited Charleston many times, I appreciated the detail ...more
Linda Zagon
Oct 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"A Tangled Mercy" by Joy Jordan-Lake combines the genres of History with Fiction, and  Kudos to the author for the vivid descriptions of the charm, spirit, and architecture of Charleston, South Carolina. There are so many contrasts to Charleston in the past and in the present. The timeline of the novel is basically divided into two,  weaving the story of the 1822 slave uprising and the 2015 Massacre at Charleston's at AME Church. This is a very
Laura Simmons
Sep 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As stories by Southern women about Southern women are a staple in my literary diet, I expected to be entertained by this one. Boy, did I underestimate how it would make me feel. Most people say they could not put a good book down. I must confess that I kept putting this one down. Sometimes because I knew from history that the approaching scenes would be hard to read. But most often because I didn't want the beautiful prose to end. Every detail of every moment captured me. I wanted to enjoy the w ...more
Rhonda Kauble
Oct 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Another fantastic historical fiction novel! This one centering on Charleston SC and the story of the Denmark Vesey slave revolt and Tom Russell of 1822. Told in alternating chapters between 1822 characters , and present day 2015 characters centering on Kate Drayton whose searching for answers to secrets from her families past connections to history in Charleston following the death of her mother. It also incorporates the history of the landmark AME Emanuel church, its connection with the slave r ...more
Nov 25, 2017 rated it did not like it
Nope nope NOPE. The subject matter...the Vesey compelling. But I can’t get past the portraits the author paints of Charlestonians current and in the past. The dialogue is rife with idioms in a way that detracts from the story and it draws a picture of the people that is like a caricature. It’s overblown to the point of insulting.
Judy D Collins
A TANGLED MERCY by Joy Jordan-Lake interweaves the painful stories of two different time periods and two different sets of characters. A captivating tale. A place of contrasts. Pain and beauty. A city both vulnerable and resilient.

A hauntingly beautiful story of dual-timelines— a moving Southern tale: 1822 dark family secrets of slavery, and present-day Charleston, SC. From the Denmark Vesey slave revolt, and those who courageously fought for freedom.

The strong and courageous characters who s
Suzanne Robertson
Jun 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
These characters are so well-drawn that weeks after finishing the book I am still catching myself wondering how Kate, Gabe, Rose and the others are getting along. Jordan-Lake's quiet descriptions -- eyes the color of a gray glint of a blade; like a whispered apology; the (beautiful) sky was such a liar -- are so real and subtle you are placed in the moment without even realizing it. Clues are hidden throughout like Easter eggs -- an old leather gun case, heron earrings, seashells, a silver hairb ...more
PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps
DNF I tried for a week, but couldn’t get into it.
Pam Lehman
Jun 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderful book that kept me engrossed right from the beginning. I had to find out what happened to Kate Drayton and what her mother hadn't told her about her past life in Charleston, South Carolina.
I love the city of Charleston. It is a city with a wonderful, rich history, a history that unfortunately included slavery. I know the basic history of that terrible era but like many of you I was never aware of the Denmark Vesey Revolt of 1822 which took place in Charleston. I am always so s
Alan Zabel
Oct 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
"A Tangled Mercy" sounds good. Actual historical events almost 200 years apart. How will the characters be connected? I did learn a little about a slave revolt in Charleston, South Carolina in 1822. But I never did experience a page turning frenzy trying to find out what happens next. The characters didn't seem to come alive and I basically knew where the story was heading. So, I just slogged through it. All the details were tied together nicely at the end, but getting there wasn't very satisfyi ...more
Amy Yingling
Nov 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
A wonderful book that fits under the historical fiction and contemporary genres, because it flip-flops back and forth between the present and the past as Kate journeys to a place that used to be home to her but became something of an illusion to her after her and her mom fled Charleston and her father. Kate is on a mission to find out what shaped her mother into who she was after they left Charleston and not everybody is happy that she's roaming around searching up skeletons in closets that were ...more
Cyndi Pollard
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A Tangled Mercy by Joy Jordan Lake is a fascinating story that engulfs you from beginning to end. The Story is set in Charleston almost 200 years apart going back to 1822 and forward to 2015. It’s so well written each Chapter leaves you wanting more as your go between the two eras seeing small flickers of connections that bring you from brutality of slavery and darkness into the light of freedom and hope for us all. This is applicable today that HOPE can start the conversations between us and ou ...more
Sep 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
A must-read novel for today. Weaving the story of a slave uprising in 1822 Charleston with one set during the 2015 massacre at Charleston’s AME Church, A Tangled Mercy reminds us of yesterday’s atrocities and today’s ongoing racial travesties. Throughout the novel, author Joy Jordan-Lake offers readers compelling characters, evocative writing, and an engrossing and appalling look at time past and time present. This important story will help readers appreciate the ongoing struggles facing America ...more
Apr 17, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I have to to toss in the towel on page 75. I started reading this book over a week ago and that fact that I still haven't reached 100 pages says a lot. There is nothing compelling me to take my Kindle out of my bag and when I finally did this morning, I felt myself skimming over things, which doesn't bode well with 400 or so pages left to go.
Megan Privett
Oct 05, 2017 rated it did not like it
I couldn't even make it through 2 chapters.... too much description about nothing for me.
Jul 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What an extraordinary novel. I smiled and cried right along with Kate throughout the entire story and the climax really does just leave one speechless.
Nov 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ellen-s-reviews
Set in a modern as well as in a historic timeline, A Tangled Mercy is a captivating, heart-warming and sometimes shocking read. Kate is searching for information about some truths behind her mother's rather obscure life and research. She makes a few life changing discoveries about her family, finds out several unknown facts about Charleston history and meets the love of her life.

This gripping novel once again makes the reader aware of the atrocities committed against 19th century slaves, as well
Sharyn Dowd
Aug 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Jordan-Lake's new novel is a gripping story of relationships, loyalty, betrayal, terror and triumph of spirit set in Charleston, South Carolina. The characters are two groups of Charlestonians. One set of characters are those involved in and touched by the slave rebellion planned by Denmark Vesey in 1822 but aborted when terrified associates leaked the plan to the white men of the city. The other group of characters lived in the Charleston of 2015, when the city was rocked by the massacre of nin ...more
Brenda Bradley
Aug 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A captivating mix of history and mystery, Joy Jordan-Lake's latest book, A Tangled Mercy, is a magnificent work of art about the potentially transformative, healing, and unifying power of secrets uncovered. In her background on the writing of this book, Jordan-Lake says that the racial landscape of America is "painful, often raw, yet also living proof of real transformation and hope and a hard-fought, still-in-progress unity."
With superb character development; fresh, vivid descriptions; and aut
Katherine Kennon
An enjoyable and captivating read. Jordan-Lake intertwines the past and the present stories and timelines and their characters beautifully …. you look forward to each chapter to see how the alternate timeline fits in. And, she paints the backdrop of Charleston as the intriguing place that it is - a city that itself exists in the delicate balance of reverence for its history and its modern existence. I would recommend this book to anyone who appreciates a search for clarity, a determination to do ...more
Donna Lewis
Jan 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book started slowly for me, and I was tempted to quit after some 60 pages. But, since so many Goodreads readers rated this book with five stars, I decided to refocus and continue reading. I was happily rewarded with an intriguing interwoven story that got better and better. Lots of history, an interesting story, good characters, and well worth the read.
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AMERICAN HISTORIC...: Meet our Host Joy Jordon-Lake 11 11 Oct 08, 2018 08:34PM  
Kindle First Club: October 2017 5 26 Oct 28, 2017 08:44AM  
Collected Works: US Only - Ending October 28th! 1 6 Oct 14, 2017 08:59AM  

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Joy Jordan-Lake's varied--and admittedly odd--professional experience has included working as a college professor, author, journalist, waitress, director of a program for homeless families, university chaplain, horseback riding instructor, free lance photographer, and --the job title that remains her personal favorite--head sailing instructor.

Born in Washington, D.C., Joy Jordan-Lake's first vivi

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