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Snow, blood, and magic: this story is perfect for fans of the Grishaverse and The Winner's Kiss series.

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…

412 pages, Paperback

First published March 16, 2021

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About the author

Naomi Hughes

8 books440 followers
Hi! I'm Naomi Hughes, writer of quirky young adult sci-fi and fantasy. I live in the Midwest US, a region I love even though it tries to murder me with tornadoes every spring. When not writing, my hobbies include reading (of course), traveling, and geeking out over Marvel superheroes and certain time-traveling Doctors.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 164 reviews
Profile Image for Brooke W.
124 reviews200 followers
March 16, 2021

Eternally grateful to Netgalley and Naomi Hughes for providing me an ARC of Mercurial in exchange for an honest review.

Actual rating: 4.5

I LOVE the idea of this book- blood, bodyguards, and magic, I couldn't ask for more. Mercurial delivered and I will be picking up all of Hughe's past and to come novels! The cover for Mercurial is perfect, it represents the story and is BEAUTIFUL.

Tal lives in the Alloyed Empire, where metal in your blood gives you incendiary powers. He fears the Destroyer, but he has sworn to protect her. She's a weapon to be used at the queen's command. When a rebel attack leaves her helpless, giving Tal the perfect opportunity to end her violent reign, he can't help but see the girl the Destroyer could be without her magic. Nyx is a rebel assassin, tasked to kill the Destroyer and save Tal. The closer they get to death, the more they realize that their decisions will decide if the empire rises- or falls.

My heart breaks when Tal's heart breaks. I feel what Tal feels. I might be in love with Tal. I loved his personality and his growth. He learns who he wants to become and the steps he will take for the ones he loves.

Nyx is my favorite. She's a fierce female, she breaks down walls and will suffer for the people she holds close. She pays attention to those around her and holds sympathy. Her energy is fun and determined. She's dedicated and I just love her character so so much!

I love who the Destroyer becomes. She learns to understand people and listen to them. The Destroyer takes everyone by surprise at each turn of this book! She's one of my favorites!

The plot is pure genius, it's twisty and VERY fast-paced. It's everything I look for in a book. Mercurial is such a good book because the writing, plot, and characters are so well done. All elements have to be well done to create such a masterpiece. I couldn't predict this book- not once. I didn't know how it was going to end, who would live, or who would die.

My favorite element of this series is the worldbuilding. Words can't tell you how much I adore it. It's filled with magic, mountains, and majestic creatures. I love how important the magic is to the plot and how well structured it is. I can understand it and it inserts crazy plot twists. I love each of the settings and I can envision every movement and living thing.

There is just the right amount of romance in this. It's perfect. There is LGBTQ+ representation as well, and that warmed my heart. Hughes added just enough romance, at just the right time and amount. That takes a lot of talent and I really enjoyed it!

I really enjoyed the writing style! I felt emerged in the book and loved the author's descriptions! There were a few times I cringed at some of the lines and the characters' thoughts but in the end- reading about the characters' thoughts is important to their personalities. This book felt MAGICAL.

I love the representation in Mercurial. It doesn't feel forced- it makes my heart warm and will welcome all readers!

Mercurial is a gem and I recommend it without a doubt!
Profile Image for eli ♡ .
160 reviews140 followers
March 17, 2021
Thank you so much to IBPA and Naomi Hughes for an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.

Disclaimer: there are some name spoilers in this review (just in the character section), but there are no other spoilers.

"Mercurial" by Naomi Hughes was set in the magical world of the Alloyed Empire, where it is ruled by Iron Empress Sarai and her younger sister, the Destroyer. The Destroyer has silver eyes and metal in her blood that gives her incendiary powers, so everyone is afraid of her. But not Nyx when she tries to assassinate the Destroyer for taking advantage of her younger brother, Tal, who betrayed Nyx by making an oath two years ago to become the Destroyer's bodyguard and protect her. Now when he first took this role, he thought he could save her, but it didn't take too long for him to realize that wouldn't happen. So Tal hates the Destroyer for all the things she's done and regrets his oath, but this changes when the Destroyer loses her powers and they're stranded together. While Tal begins to learn more about the Destroyer and sees her as a human, Nyx continues to plot against the Destroyer because she wants her dead. As this develops, the entire empire awaits on the decisions the three of them will make.

This such a suspenseful and lush read. It's full of drama, betrayal, and hatred all rolled into one book. I really enjoyed the characters, the suspenseful plot, and the good writing.

The plot of this story was very complex and kept me intrigued for most of the story. Every time I finished a chapter, the plot became more and more complicated. The plot kept developing as the story progressed, but the ending felt a little abrupt, and I wanted to have a better understanding of this complex plot before it ended. And at certain plot points, I was pretty bored and was waiting for some action.

Now this is where the writing comes in. See, I like how declamatory the writing is, but it isn't very articulate, so it was harder for me to comprehend the current events and what was being described. An example of this is at the 95% mark

"The fire was tear­ing through her, each fin­ger­tip a jet of flame, each artery and vein and ca­pil­lary a ra­ging tor­rent of sparks. She had lost con­trol. Her power was fol­low­ing only it­self, like a wa­ter­fall crash­ing down in­ev­it­ably from the heights. She began to grow faint. She heard scream­ing, some­thing feral and furi­ous, and real­ized that it was both her and the fire."

This writing isn't bad at all, it just made it harder for me to enjoy the story. And it left me feeling uninterested in reading more of the story. Now this wasn't a problem throughout the whole story, just at certain plot points. Of course, this might not have been a problem for anyone else, but it was a problem for me.

And if you thought the plot was complex, then buckle your seatbelts because the characters are so multiplex.

Tal was such a conflicted character throughout the story with his motives and thoughts. When Tal gave the oath to become the Destroyer's bodyguard, he didn't want to do it, but his Unforged God told him that he needed to. And I think because of the role the Unforged God played in Tal's life, he couldn't define who he was or what he wanted since the Unforged God always gave him a "plan" for what he should do. And Tal himself was a compassionate person, but also stored a deep hatred for anyone that betrayed him. He was also pretty selfless because it seemed like he usually wanted to do things that would benefit the people around him, and not himself.

The Destroyer (Elodie) had to have been my favorite character in this novel. She was diligent, powerful, assertive, and forbidding, but also compassionate and charismatic at the same time. Throughout the novel, Elodie has so much character development from her experiences, and I loved that. I felt so bad for Elodie during certain parts of the novel, but other times I understood why that was happening to her. I can't say anymore without spoiling, so I'll just leave it at that.

Nyx (Melaine) was pretty confusing. I understood her main motive of killing the Destroyer because of her crimes, and how the Destroyer involved Tal in those crimes, but I didn't always understand her other motives. I wanted to like her a lot, but she kept making "questionable" actions, and I just couldn't. I do like how her character developed from a person filled with hate and hurt, to someone with more compassion and understanding for others. I think her perspective of the Destroyer really changed towards the end, and I liked that.

Supporting Characters
Helenia was a caring and thoughtful character, but she was also very analytical and strategic, which I loved. Her relationship with Nyx was pretty cute, and I liked it. Sarai was inhospitable, and even more forbidding than the Destroyer at first, but she really changed and showed how much she cared about her sister. I didn't really think that she would develop, but she did, and it definitely added more to the story. Albinus was a slithering snake who pretended to be loyal to one person in power just so he could betray them and take their power. He didn't change at all, and I had no respect towards him. Saasha was Nyx's mother, and she was very manipulative. She used Nyx to execute her plans one minute, but claimed she loved Nyx the next. I don't have much respect for her either, and she didn't change much.

So overall, I enjoyed this novel. It had a suspenseful plot, complex characters, and good writing, which is what I always look for in a novel. The writing wasn't my favorite, but I still liked this novel nonetheless. Though I am wondering what time this novel took place in. I'm presuming this took place near the 20'th century because there was mentions of zeppelins and other 20'th century objects. I would highly recommend this to someone who enjoys a enemies-to-lovers romance, redemption arcs, and a unique yet immersive read.

↠ 4 stars

Blog Review


I'm not trying to sound mean, but I'm glad this book is over. This was a rollercoaster of novel, and I'm not ready to write a review of this. I don't know when I'll write a real review because I've been avoiding my work all day just to finish this novel. Maybe my teachers could not assign a bucket of work that always keeps me from reading/reviewing. That'd be great. RTC

Profile Image for tappkalina.
642 reviews391 followers
November 10, 2022
“Well, Tal,��� she said, “I possess an ornamental dagger, a crown, and half a rabbit. What can you contribute to our shared survival?”

I read this that one time I tried NetGalley. Although I'm too much of a mood reader for NetGalley, I don't regret trying it, because I quite enjoyed this book, even ordered a physical copy of it.

The main characters are
- the Destroyer, the empress’s perfect weapon until a rebel attack leaves her with no magic and no memories,
- Tal, her bodyguard who has long since regretted his idealistic hope of saving the Destroyer, and
- Nyx, Tal's sister who is a rebel assassin sweared to kill the Destroyer and rescue her brother.

Maybe I was just not in the mood for this book at the time, because I got bored towards the end, but it hooked me right in when I started. I liked the characters, the magic system, the world building, and the funny moments like this:
“Sit down this second or I swear, I’ll turn down your proposal.”
Nyx stopped. She looked at Helenia. “What proposal?”
“The proposal where you get down on your knees and beg me to marry you even though— I repeat— you left me drugged in the woods while you ran off to face the Destroyer.”

I plan on rereading this and see if I can make it a 4 stars, because I've read it more than a year ago and certain scenes still live rent free in my mind.
Profile Image for Alex Nonymous.
Author 18 books326 followers
March 19, 2021
I was provided with an eARC of Mercurial in exchange for an honest review.

This book isn't even out yet as of me writing this review, but I'm here to tell you that it's already underrated and will be bullying everyone in my life to add this to their TBR's immediately.

Mercurial really is a gem of a novel. While nothing about most of the tropes it uses are unique (blood based magic, enemies to lovers, enemies have to rely on each other to survive, Big Bad with secret tragic past, over protective misinformed siblings... the list really goes on and on) I don't think I've really seen any of them (especially an enemies to lovers standalone) handled this expertly before. This is also a trial perspective standalone fantasy which I've normally only seen done to flesh out world building or page count, but all 3 characters are believable and complex and every single chapter here adds to the narrative.

I'm absolutely obsessed and hopefully, you will be too.
Profile Image for Naomi Hughes.
Author 8 books440 followers
March 9, 2021
Hi there! I'm Naomi Hughes, author of Mercurial. I wanted to use this space to say a few things I didn't get to say in the book itself, and also to post a content advisory.

First: this book means so much to me, in part because it's actually a reimagining of one of the first manuscripts I ever wrote nearly a decade ago when I was first starting out. I wrote my soul into it over the years: a boy grappling with his god, a volatile princess navigating her own vulnerability, and a ferocious assassin with family issues. This book and me, we've been through a lot together--and now I'm thrilled to get to share it with you!

Now, on to the content advisory. I'll be as thorough as I can, but I'm human and might forget things (or might have a different opinion of what merits a content advisory than you do), so this list is probably not all-inclusive. But it will be as inclusive as I can make it! I will hide spoilers so you'll only see spoiler-related advisories if you want to. :)

Just as a note, this book does have a lot of violence due to some of its themes, but it's not super graphic or grotesque, and it doesn't have any horror tones or gratuitous violence. This story is all about hope and redemption, and how sometimes you have to go through the worst of the darkness to find the light. Accordingly, I do portray that darkness, but it's not what the story is *about*.

I also want to point out that this book does have religion as one of its central themes, so if you find elements of that triggering (such as religious extremism, fundamentalism, literalism, martyrdom, etc.), this might not be the book for you. That being said, this is definitely NOT meant to be a "preachy" book, but rather explores and questions faith in a more philosophical and hopefully authentic way. It's also not meant to represent (or denigrate!) any specific religion, merely to explore and question elements of organized religion that can be harmful in pretty much any context.

Content advisory:
-Parents intentionally putting teen children in dangerous situations
-Torture (not overly graphic--)
-Stabbings (swords and daggers)
-Lots of descriptions of blood
-Mentions of, and on-page attempts at, assassination
-Attacks by a wild animal
-Religious martyrdom
-Medieval-ish prison conditions are described
-Executions by fire/incendiary magic (not too graphic)

Thanks so much for reading! I hope you love this story as much as I do.
Profile Image for mads.
333 reviews339 followers
February 18, 2021
ARC provided by the author via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

"Once, there was a boy who believed"

You know when you're watching an old sports, coming-of-age movie and there's that inevitable moment when the team you're meant to be rooting for is failing SO badly? Like, man, has this team never even seen a *insert sport of choice* game before? And then! There's the magical moment! The switch! The moment when the coach pulls them aside and reminds them all of why they're here. They begin to believe in themselves and voila! The game (and their reputation) has been redeemed.

That's very similar to my experience with this book, with a few significant alterations.

The first and perhaps most notable one being this is a novel, not a team.

Beyond that, there was the fact this game - er, book - never fully got its redemption. The second half was SO much better than the first, but it was still nowhere near what it had the potential to be. Which, I believe, is my biggest critique of this book. Don't get me wrong! I enjoyed it but I can still acknowledge that it was undeniably a shadow of what it could have been.

The world and plot were pretty interesting on their own, but what really made this story were the themes the author delved into. Not very many YA fantasy authors have decided to take a neutral, considerate approach to themes like religion and the different ways religions can help/harm different groups of people. She managed to do it in a way that really got you thinking, while pointing out the traps people fall into and the beauty that can come from religion.

And that's not even starting on the Destroyer and the walking moral dilemma that she was.

With that being said, I still had enough problems with this book that kept me from enjoying it the way I should have. As I mentioned earlier, I had issues with the first half of the book. It was so slow and felt like not much happened (more a pacing issue than anything else), which brings me to another problem I had and that's the problem of 'telling not showing'.

Now, if you've ever been a part of the writing community, or even just the book community, you've heard the age old argument over show-not-tell. And here's the thing: both are necessary for a good story. The trick is knowing what to show and what to simply tell. This was a problem that I kept finding with this story. In the prologue, a decision is made and a union is formed between two characters. In chapter one, we've skipped two years ahead and are already moving past said union. We keep being told that this character does horrible things, but we're very rarely shown them (this does improve as the story carries on, though.) We keep being told these characters feel a certain way, but I very rarely felt like it was represented in their actions.

Overall, while this was by no means a perfect book, it was still enjoyable and I would recommend it for the themes alone.
Profile Image for Julie - One Book More.
932 reviews160 followers
March 12, 2021
An enemies-to-lovers young adult fantasy with thought-provoking messages about faith, forgiveness, and the murky line between good and evil, Mercurial is a compelling read! I enjoyed the characters, the magic system, the thought-provoking messages, and, of course, the romance in this standalone novel.

Several characters in the story that stand out as favorites! The Destroyer, also known as Elodie, is so interesting. Though extremely powerful, she feels very alone. She is feared, justifiably so, for her violence and cruelty. However, even when she loses her powers, that loneliness envelops her. Her story is so intriguing, especially considering how murky her past is. Plagued by nightmares, Elodie struggles to remember certain parts of her past, and her story becomes even more shocking as the story progresses. It’s clear that Elodie is on her own. Tal is one of the only people she can trust, and that’s mostly because he has taken an unbreakable oath to let no harm come to her.

Tal goes through many internal and external obstacles throughout the story, and his character is so well-developed. Tal is quite devout and is deeply affected by his religious beliefs and spiritual guidance. However, for the majority of the story he goes through a spiritual struggle and tries to reconcile his faith with his ever-changing feelings.

Tal also struggles to understand his changing feelings toward Elodie. At the start of the story, Tal despises The Destroyer and wishes he had never sworn himself to her. He has seen her do, and he has done unspeakable and unforgivable things, and he doesn’t understand why his God propelled him to protect The Destroyer. However, as the story progresses, Tal sees that there is much more to Elodie than just being The Destroyer, especially after she loses her memory. These conflicting feelings confuse and anger Tal. Elodie is more aware and quicker to reconcile her feelings for Tal. There are interesting messages here about trauma, forgiveness, acceptance, and the power of love, and I enjoyed Tal and Elodie’s enemies-to-lovers romance.

Speaking of love, I have to talk about how much I love Nyx, Tal’s sister. Nyx is determined to rid the world of The Destroyer and free her brother, and she is unflinching in her goals. She is a fighter, and she is passionate about those she loves. Though she is brutal and strong and unrelenting, she turns into a softie whenever she’s with her brother and her girlfriend. I love that we see so many sides of her character, from her ambitions to her fears and everything in between. Like her brother, Nyx struggles to reconcile her feelings toward The Destroyer and her religious beliefs.

I found the religious aspect of this story really interesting. I didn’t find it preachy but instead felt it was more philosophical in examining and questioning religion. Characters like Tal, his mother, Nyx, and Nyx’s girlfriend show the difference between faith and fanaticism. They also show ways in which religion can help a person and when it can harm. It’s fascinating to see people who read and follow the same religious texts pull opposite interpretations depending on their own motivations and desires. It really makes you think about the different ways in which culture and religion influence people.

The world and magic system are unique and immersive, and the author skillfully creates a dynamic and fascinating setting. In addition to the intriguing world and magic, secrets, lies, fighting for a cause (or person) you believe in, political intrigue, and many heart-pounding scenes make for an immersive read. Thanks so much to NetGalley and the author for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Rhys.
173 reviews128 followers
July 10, 2021
Thank you to NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

I found Mercurial through NetGalley's "Available Now" section and I am so glad I did!

Mercurial revolves around the Alloyed Empire, and they fear 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 of herself.
Tal is a royal guard, protecting The Destroyer, who has now since regretted his hopes of changing The Destroyer. Now that she is powerless, he plans to finally end her reign of terror-if he can stop himself from falling for the wicked, funny, and utterly unfamiliar girl she has become.
Nyx was furious when Tal, her brother, abandoned her to protect a tyrant. Now, she hones herself as the 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 all three of them will make.

This book had me by surprise. I went in expecting this fantasy story to be one that had barely any representation but MAN was I wrong!! Nyx has a girlfriend, Helenia, and she has dark brown skin. Tal and The Destroyer are both white.

My favourite character in this story has to be Nyx. I connected with her straight away. She reminds me of myself in a way (and not just because she is gay, like myself). The way she talks, the ways she thinks, reminded me of myself.

The plot itself was so interesting to read. There was never a part in the book that I was bored with and wanted to stop reading. The world-building is so well done for how long the book is. I did not think that the world-building would be so well done but I was blown away!

The romance between The Destroyer and Tal is great. You could say it is enemies to lovers, but The Destroyer never hated Tal. Tal hated The Destroyer so it can be added as enemies to lovers, but not exactly. I still loved it because you could tell through the entire story (when in The Destroyers POV) that she has feelings for Tal but never thinks about them until near the end of the book. I loved every second of being in one of their POVs and seeing how they think of one another. (Also, side note, the book is written in third person omniscient)

If you are looking for a fast-paced, memory loss, vengeance, and fantasy story, this book is for you!

Edit: after my second time reading this, it gets a 5 stars. I loved it even more omfg.
Profile Image for nadia ♡ ~.
169 reviews9 followers
March 17, 2021
| Last of all, he dreamed of Elodie. |

Elodie has my heart. Once you start reading this book you can't stop. It took me two days to read it because I was working, but once you read Elodie and Tal you can't stop thinking about them, I couldn't stop. It was my first book from Naomi and it was flawless and the cover? I am obsessed.

I should start with the story, it was unique I like the way how Naomi got me thinking about if it was their God or ours, call me crazy or the way you want, but when Tal gets mad with the Unforged God I understand that because if you are a believer you know that sometimes that happens with you or not, but when Hel said: Anger is not the absence of belief. I just love that. Bye.

I knew it was an enemies to lovers, but I did not know that it will be so damn good. Like they were enemies, he wanted to kill her and then he was falling for her, but you know the best part? It wasn't in a rush, you get to grow with Tal and Elodie, you get to know them so well that you cry when they cry and you smile when they do.

Is a short book and that doesn't matter, you know why? The writing, the world-building, the plot, the characters are well done. Is impossible not to like this book. Have to admit that "the bodyguard crush" got me since the beginning (my bad).

Nyx... Well, she is a great character and I admire her because she sacrifices everything for her brother and as a sister, I would do the same, even tho she irritated me, but I understand her, and that the important thing here.

𝘈𝘙𝘊 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘷𝘪𝘥𝘦𝘥 𝘣𝘺 𝘕𝘦𝘵𝘎𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘺 𝘪𝘯 𝘦𝘹𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘨𝘦 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘢𝘯 𝘩𝘰𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘵 𝘳𝘦𝘷𝘪𝘦𝘸. 𝘛𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘬 𝘺𝘰𝘶.
Profile Image for akacya ❦.
837 reviews135 followers
June 22, 2021
The Destroyer is the empress’s perfect weapon, until an attack takes her magic and memories. Tal, her bodyguard, is meant to end her, but he quickly finds himself falling for the memories-lacking Destroyer.

This was easily one of the best fantasies I’ve read in a while. All of the characters had such great depth and were very well-developed. The plot itself was amazing, and adding the romance made the story even better. I highly recommend to all fantasy lovers!
Profile Image for Alaina.
6,084 reviews215 followers
June 28, 2021
I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Oh man! Oh man! I am so happy that I got the chance to dive into Mercurial. Even though I actually dove into the eARC after it was published, oops?, I still really enjoyed the heck out of the book.

In it, you will meet Tal, Nyx and The Destroyer. Tal is the bodyguard for The Destroyer. What he doesn't plan on doing is actually falling in love with the girl. Which is completely weird since I was shipping them after their very first encounter. It was honestly pretty easy and I just knew something was going to form between them after her first evil smile.

I'd like to call it a gift. An evil gift.

Then there's Nyx. She is Tal's older sister and she is going to free her brother no matter what. Her number one plan is to kill The Destroyer but, of course, her plan doesn't go smoothly. Mostly because he stopped her from committing the deed and then shit sort of hits the fan. I loved all the chaos and I wanted more.

As for the romance, I just really enjoyed Nyx and her girlfriend. Their bantering gave me life. Then there's Tal and his evilness slowly gravitating towards one another. Which, yes, also gave me pure joy. I think I just wanted everyone to end up happy and stuff.

In the end, I'm definitely happy that I finally got to dive into this. The little bonus story was freaking adorable too.
Profile Image for Becky.
52 reviews
February 10, 2021
I was provided an e-ARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Wow! Going into this book I had only a faint idea of what it was going to be about. Nothing prepared me for what i read though.

"Once, there was a boy who believed"

Immediately, the reader is sucked into this immersive fantasy world, introduced to these powerful and deadly characters; Tal, The Destroyer, and further on we meet Nyx. The dynamic between these three main characters was really interesting; they were all connected to each other whether they wanted to be or not, whilst a subtle struggle for control coursed through the action.

The character development was especially mesmerizing, leaving me on the edge of my seat, forcing me to carry on. Watching The Destroyer become Elodie, Tal understand his fate, and Nyx recognize the consequences that she caused.

One of my favourite things about this book is the constant exploration of faith and religion. Often, books use religion as nothing more than a plot device to highlight differences between characters. However, Hughes presents a painfully accurate portrayal, recognizing that "sometimes being a believer ... meant inviting pain". It was refreshing to read about a faith that wasn't filled with faults, wasn't perfect, and genuinely added to the plot.

Overall, I would give this book 4.5 stars. I enjoyed reading the plot, I was intrigued and attached to the characters and their backstories, and the writing style was enjoyable, and felt authentic. In terms of Representation, this book was really strong. Nyx was in a healthy wlw relationship that only improved her character arc, and Helenia (her girlfriend) was powerful in her own right. All in all, the story was unique and I really felt as though I gained something after reading it.
Profile Image for Michelle.
Author 24 books440 followers
April 9, 2021
AHH I MAY NEVER GET OVER THIS BOOK. Murder princesses and guys with two swords who are death-sworn to protect them and a pair of badass, adorable lesbians dogsledding across the mountains to save each other, and IMPOSSIBLY high stakes that explode ever higher in every scene. You haven't even shaken off the adrenaline from the last one before the characters are in ever deeper. Mostly, I adore the emotional stakes here, of how deeply the characters come to care for each other and their country, and how it wrenches me apart as a reader to see them pitted against each other with no answer in sight. This comes close to a perfectly crafted book, with every scene cranking the action and the emotion even higher, while deftly dropping in pieces of wisdom about politics, relationships, and issues of class and leadership.

I love the twisty nature of religion and prophecy in this book: how whenever the characters think they're outsmarting the gods, they're actually falling right onto their fated path. How the author gently reveals hypocrisy and deep wisdom in the same (fictional) religion. How she shows religion as acting as a mirror to reveal your true self, more than an objective path people are following. I was totally immersed in the moments when the hero is communicating with his god, and fighting his fate and what is right and wrong in a world with no easy answers.

The short story at the end is deeply satisfying too. It's a fantastic self contained piece and a beautiful epilogue with a great theme, all at once. Perhaps the ending tied up too neatly on this one when it seemed utterly out of reach, but I LOVE a good ending and the way this worked out for all the different characters only made me happier and more satisfied. I wish this book had a thousand sequels.
Profile Image for chromeo.
73 reviews
Shelved as 'old-reads'
January 27, 2022

this is the kind of book that keeps you on your toes from the very first to the very last sentence. here i am, having consumed it in just a few hours. and i have to admit, this is the best thing i’ve read in 2021 so far. i read books to feel something. and this one did make me feel. i cried, and i laughed along with the characters, and it felt incredible. i thought the cover was pretty, i liked the premise, and then, finally starting the book, i immediately was sucked into the universe of deceptions, betrayals, fear, and most of all―love.

what a way to start the book. i still can’t get over it; this sentence alone left me choking from excitement, and then i knew i was in for something huge. the boy in question, tal, he was such a complex character, i found myself not understanding his choices at first, but as i was discovering his world, it was becoming easier and easier to feel for him. he was a protector, by oath and by choice. this is what ultimately made me fall in love. i can’t call him pure or innocent, given the amount of people he had killed―but he was brave, dedicated, and determined. unpredictable, too, and all these traits combined created a great depth to him.
also, sometimes i would forget that he’s actually a skilled assassin. then i’d get scenes like this, and i’d think, simply, wow.

Tal had no plans to enter through any gate other than this one. Neither slow­ing nor stop­ping, he con­tin­ued his steady ap­proach. One guard cursed and turned, twist­ing the knob of the door at his back, rais­ing his voice to shout for re­in­force­ments. By the time he got the first syl­lable of his shout out, Tal’s sword was already a blur of sil­ver arcing to­ward his chest, and the second syl­lable ended in a warb­ling gurgle.

there is a lot to elodie. in the beginning, i have to admit, i hated her, and i wished her all the worst. her story showed that after all she was nothing more than a victim, although not blameless for her actions. to me, her character arc was a masterpiece. from a cruel and cold murderess to a girl that, after all, was capable of love.

nyx’s role in this story was revolving mostly around his brother. she was more of a background character, or that’s how i felt, at least. i’d love to find out more of what happened with her in the pre-canon two years time period. it seems like she was pretty brainwashed by her own mother, and the thing that the story lacked was more of nyx’s background. also, helenia. i hoped to see nyx’s and helenia’s relationship to be explored way beyond she’s my girlfriend. oh, how i love my girlfriend. the wlw rep wasn’t bad, it just left me wanting to know more―both about these two characters and the bond between them.

the relationship between tal and elodie, on the contrary, was thoroughly explored. and i was there for every second of it. starting as kind-of-enemies bound to each other by an oath, learning to grow, to forgive and to become a better version of themselves, ending up as lovers. the progression of their relationship left me wishing for the best for them, yet never knowing if they were going to get a happy end, together. i was completely immersed in them warming up to each other.

“I wish you weren’t so dif­fer­ent now,” he muttered as he un­locked the man­acles from his wrists.
She raised an eye­brow. “Oh? Why is that?”
“Be­cause it shouldn’t be this hard to hate you,” he said, and without an­other word, he pushed past her to be­gin har­ness­ing the dogs.

and then something way deeper than just friendship surfaced, and it’d be a lie to say i didn’t cry. i did, because like i said, i wished the best for them, and at the thought they wouldn’t get it, i was devastated.
Voice rough with pain, he said, “You will never let me go, will you?”
She didn’t un­der­stand the words, but she was afraid that she would soon if her memor­ies kept sur­fa­cing, and she dis­covered that she didn’t want to. “Shut up and let me save you,” she snapped, try­ing to heave him up without jost­ling him too much.

i have received an ARC of this book from netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for FranTargaryen.
93 reviews205 followers
February 28, 2021

I have received an ARC from Mercurial in exchange for a totally honest review.

Let's be honest, when I read the synopsis I saw that it promised me an enemies to lovers and magic; what does that mean? That the book had me deep inside without thinking twice. And okay, it is true that there are several clichés that the author has exploited: visions, enemies to lovers, blood magic, differences between silver blood (magic) and red blood - hello, The Red Queen.

But don't panic because I really liked this story and I have enjoyed it. So I start at the beginning: Tal takes an iron oath to The Destroyer guided by his visions from his god, and after two years, everything changes in the wake of an assassination attempt. Nyx, Tal's sister, has created a plan to free her brother and take down The Destroyer but… at what cost?

Well, I could go a little further as the synopsis tells it but… I'm going to stay there. I want to talk to you about the GOOD points of the story and for that I have to talk about Elodie (The Destroyer, although now I will use her name); she is the sister of the empress, she can control fire and together with Tal she feels safe. She has been a strong protagonist, with an evolution throughout history that I have believed and with a past that, although somewhat predictable, continues to touch.

Regarding Tal, his charisma and duality have enchanted me, seeing how he ends up questioning what his god asked him, how those doubts affect his decisions throughout the book, is the key to a plot with twists that leave you with your mouth open. . Yes, it is true that I would have liked to see more about her powers, to have exploited that part more ...

Last character I want to talk about is Nyx, also important and who has given me the sapphic representation of the book that she did not expect and that I have been grateful for, but the chapters of her have sometimes seemed useless in terms of the plot. It is true that her relationship with certain characters makes us see other points of view, but sometimes it felt that it was more filling than anything else.

I can’t finish the review without saying that I wish Naomi would exploited more the religion in this book — It is something I always enjoy in the stories and seeing how heavy it was here, I expected more. But this part is just about myself and the things I expect sometimes, some of them not even being necessary to understand the plot.

At the end, I would like to emphasize that I appreciate that it is a standalone book. Usually, these types of stories tend to develop over several books and sometimes they even lose the thread. This is not the case with Mercurial, here we have a beginning and an end that has been well developed and has left me with a very good taste in my mouth.


He recibido un ARC de Mercurial a cambio de una reseña totalmente honesta.

Vamos a ser sinceros, cuando leí la sinopsis de Mercurial vi que me prometía un enemies to lovers y magia; ¿eso qué significa? Que me tenía muy dentro sin pensármelo dos veces. Y vale, es cierto que hay varios clichés que la autora ha explotado: visiones, enemies to lovers, magia de sangre, diferencias entre sangre plateada (magia) y sangre roja —hola, La Reina Roja.

Pero no os asustéis porque a mí esta historia me ha gustado mucho y la he disfrutado. Así que empiezo por el principio: Tal hace un juramento de hierro a The Destroyer guiado por las visiones que tiene de su dios y, tras dos años, todo cambia a raíz de un intento de asesinato. Nyx, la hermana de Tal, ha ideado un plan para liberar a su hermano y acabar con The Destroyer pero… ¿A qué coste?

Pues bien, podría avanzar un poco más ya que lo cuenta la sinopsis pero… Me voy a quedar ahí. Quiero hablaros de los puntos fuentes de la historia y para ello tengo que hablar de Elodie (The Destroyer, aunque ahora usaré su nombre); ella es la hermana de la emperatriz, puede controlar el fuego y junto a Tal se siente segura. Ha sido una protagonista fuerte, con una evolución a lo largo de la historia que me he creído y con un pasado que, aunque algo predecible, sigue tocando.

Respecto a Tal, su carisma y dualidad me ha encantado, ver cómo acaba cuestionando lo que su dios le pidió, cómo esas dudas afectan a sus decisiones a lo largo del libro hace la clave para una trama con giros que te dejan con la boca abierta. Sí es cierto que me habría gustado ver más sobre sus poderes, haber explotado más esa parte…

De los personajes, Nyx es también importante y quien me ha dado la representación sáfica del libro que no esperaba y que he agradecido, pero sus capítulos a veces me han parecido inútiles en cuanto a la trama. Es cierto que su relación para con ciertos personajes hace que veamos otros puntos de vista, pero a veces se sentía que era más relleno que otra cosa.

Por último, me gustaría destacar que agradezco que sea un libro autoconclusivo. Normalmente, este tipo de historias se suelen desarrollar a lo largo de varios libros y a veces se llega incluso a perder el hilo. No es el caso de Mercurial, aquí tenemos un principio y un final que ha quedado bien desarrollado y me ha dejado con muy buen sabor de boca.
Profile Image for The Fantasy  Library .
107 reviews7 followers
March 21, 2021
I love book with a good magic system and this one has it. The Magic described here comes from the type of metal present in the blood, like mercury gives fire power, silver gives the power of premonitions, etc.

This book is narrated by 3 different POVs, The Destroyer aka Elodie, Tal and Nyx.
The Destroyer is known to be cruel, violent and merciless. She is the “leveller of cities” and the empress’s favourite weapon. Everyone in the Alloyed Kingdom fears her. She is so cold that sometimes she does not even feel any emotions other than anger and rage.

Tal is the Destroyer’s bodyguard. His also a silver smith, the ones who have silver in their blood. He had vison that showed him pledging to be the Destroyers bodyguard, his mortal enemy. Her sister the empress Sarai had every silver smith she could find killed because of a coup. Tal’s parents were killed because of it. Due to his undying faith in his God, he accepted the vision and went to the alloyed Empire and pledged his oath to protect and to never harm the Destroyer himself. In the two years that he was with the Destroyer, he hunted and killed every threat his oath made him feel. He witnessed every violent act the Destroyer did, starting from interrogating prisoners to burning down cities and his anger, his desperation to kill her grew.

In the beginning of the book, I felt that the Destroyer had some feelings for Tal but couldn’t understand them until after she lost her powers and her memories, and she became Elodie and not the Destroyer. She did of course get her memories back. Her change to Elodie was a big shock to Tal. He had always known her to be unsympathetic and inhumane, this change where she shows feelings and instead of him protecting her, she protects him and helps him when he was injured. After she found out that Tal was a silver smith, she defended him rather than sentencing him to death.

The Destroyer’s development from the hated character to a loved one is so good. When she regained her memories, I thought that was it she would go back to being her old self, but she was just the opposite, she felt remorse for all the pain she had caused especially to that one person she loved the most, Tal.

Tal’s development was so admirable. His conflict with his God making him serve someone like the Destroyer and then expecting the vision he saw coming true. He could never imagine the Destroyer saving the empire. He felt betrayed. His hate for the Destroyer was immense. The Destroyers change had rattled him and did the unexpected, he saved her, his feelings grew for her. Due to this he was always in a battle with himself because he was torn between Elodie and his people. At one point he did choose his people however in the end he also chose Elodie and the Destroyer he loved them both.

I loved Nyx’s character. She is bold, fierce, would do anything to save her brother, Tal from the hands of the Destroyer. She, with the help of a rebellion group called the Saints, is hell bent to kill the Destroyer and free Tal of his oath.

One thing that I really loved about the book was the relationship between siblings show her. The relationship between Elodie and her sister Sarai and the relationship between Tal and Nyx is so powerful. Each would kill and be killed for them.

The plot is fast paced and there is so much happening in every chapter that I just couldn’t put it down. The author has done an amazing job in writing this book. It is so engaging as well as riveting. This book pulled me out of my four month long reading slump. The world building is good, the religion mentioned here could have been described a little more. This has a no matter how bad it gets it will be better in the end vibe which just fits this story beautifully. This book ended with a bang which was wow. My only complaint is that I wanted to know what happened to everyone afterwards. Now I need to get a physical copy of this book, I need to add it my collection.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for melanie loyola.
151 reviews2 followers
March 1, 2021
“she was fire, she was mercury, she was death. she was a weapon in the hands of her empress.”

thank you netgalley for giving me an e-arc in exchange for an honest review. all thoughts written here are my own, influenced by the pain and excitement given to me by this book :D

okay okay, lets talk mercurial. when i started this, i was reading possibly my worst read series in the world, so my hopes for this were not that high, i just needed something simple to read. but holy, did i enjoy this book. there are a few trigger warnings, such as poisonings, torture, stabbings, religious martyrdom, vivid descriptions of blood and a few more (you can find those on the authors review of this book). but lets get onto the review (it wont be much indepth as ill rather not give out spoils)

my favorite thing to talk about: the characters

“once, there was a boy who believed”
tal. i loved tal. i love his arc, i love who he is, i love what he stands for, although he is mostly confused throughout the entire book (does he trust the destroyer, does he not? who knows? certainly not him). the man made the dumbest decisions at times but i love him so its fine.

“once. there was a girl who was afraid”
the destroyer was OMG. thats it. thats how i would describe her. she has possibly my favorite character growth and is just full of surprises. she went from heartless warrior to understanding people AH, it was so good to read about. she was so flawed, so violent, such a mess, but so interesting to read about.

“nyx believed in exactly one thing, and that was her brother tal”
now onto my absolute favorite character who i would die for, nyx. nyx is so powerful, so overprotective, and has killer vibes. she, frankly, will kill anyone who hurts her family, and actually said she would (scary stuff). her trust in tal throughout the entire book was fantastic. her character had the most personality and the most attitude for sure. she made reading this book so much fun.

lets talk plot:

this story surrounds a character called the destroyer, who everyone fears in alloyed empire. tal is a royal guard who has to protect the destroyer, who wants to take advantage of the fact she is now powerless to, more or less, destroyer the destroyer (see what i did there). however, what is a fantasy without love right? so of course, tal has to stop himself from falling. and we cannot forget nyx, who is angry that her brother is protecting said destroyer, and plans on killing the destroyer to get tall back. the story follows the journey of these three unique, but not all that different characters.

not once in this entire book was i sure about where we were going with this plot. its full of twists and extremely fast paced ( although it does have a rough and slow start). it has vengeance and fantasy, it's the perfect recipe for a great book. i do have to say though, its not a perfect book, which a book rarely is. i felt we could have had more information of what happened in the two year jump from the prologue to chapter one. however, for what i read, it was super interesting and really well developed.

the world building was outstanding. usually, standalones either have great world building or the trashiest one. but i'm glad to say, i loved this world. also, religion does play a part in here, but it was mostly seen around tal and him coming to terms with the fact that his life is not to be determined by god, but by his own choices (which i think was done wonderfully, it does not throw religion on you at all).

ofc there was romance in this, which i very much enjoyed. i would call it kind of an enemies to lovers, although the destroyer never really hated tal, just would not think about her feelings. but tal definitely hated the destroyer in the beginning.

would i recommend this? yes
will i shove it down everyone's throat? yes
will i make this book my personality for the next two weeks? yes

Profile Image for eleanor.
177 reviews
February 12, 2021
Thank you to NetGalley for the e-arc of this book in exchange for review.

Tal is a bodyguard for the Destroyer but only does so in the name of his God. Elodie is The Destroyer, the sister of the Empress and a weapon for the regime in power. Nyx is Tal’s sister who would do anything to save her brother from his disastrous situation.

This was a very solid YA fantasy. Starting with the most enjoyable parts: this book’s plot is so well done. The pacing is quite quick and every single scene moves the plot forward. The plot premise and twists were all so intriguing and added so many layers to this story. The book is paced so fast, I was approved for the arc and read the entire thing in one day. Very easy to get through and is written in a way that makes it easy for any reader, well versed in fantasy or not, to get into the story very quickly.

This speed, however, did throw me off at times because the story did feel quite superficial in terms of world-building and exploration of the systems (both magical and not) in place for this story. It felt like we were told a lot about how this world worked but not necessarily given scenes to show us those instances. While this did help the plot move along and kept the interest high, it felt like I was missing out on a lot of substance to round out the story as a whole. Combined with some convenient things happening, it felt like there were some things sacrificed in making the plot so fast and making the relationship move quickly.

Speaking of the relationship, I am probably not the target audience here but it was still enjoyable for me to read. Believable? Not really. Enjoyable to read anyway? Sure. The main issue I had was that because the plot moves quickly, there is not much character development for anyone other than Tal and Elodie. They had the biggest and most satisfying arcs from the cast of characters, but it still felt like they only developed when it was needed to push them together and I wasn’t sure I was too on board with that. I think the pacing just made me feel a little less invested in their relationship because I thought it happened so quickly. However, this is a personal preference so really this could work wonderfully if that speed is not a problem for you. It reminded me of Bone Crier’s Moon in terms of the relationship and pacing of the character development. Not necessarily bad just not for me personally. I also recognize this might be a product of the fact that it is YA so there are tough choices in picking what to give more depth and what to touch just a tad.

I wish we got more about the magic system and the world outside of just these two characters over the course of a few days because it seemed so interesting. I wanted to learn more about the politics and the societal structures at play. Also, the religious aspects of the society were so interesting, I wanted more of that. In essence, I guess I wanted more political intrigue but I recognize that probably isn't what this book set out to do. So, again, this comes down to personal preference more than real issues. I don’t know if that’s asking too much but those are the parts that I truly fell in love with here. The writing was great, the world premise was great, the pacing and plot were great. I just wanted more depth to the parts that I saw had potential but maybe that’s outside the scope of what you can fit into a YA fantasy in 400ish pages.

If you want the focus to be the romance, and you like the insta-love enemies-to-lovers style, you can definitely count on this to deliver. I can see this being a huge hit with the vibes of Bone Crier’s Moon, Serpent and Dove, or The Shadows Between Us mixed with a very fun magic system based on metals and blood. Very fun overall and earned a solid 3 stars from me. Excited to check out more from this author.
Profile Image for Natalie.
797 reviews47 followers
April 7, 2021
Novel provided by the author via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Actual rating: 4.5 / 5

"Once, there was a boy who believed."

In a world created by The Unforged God, some humans (known as Smiths) are born with the seeds of divinity; an element of metal flowing through their blood such as copper, silver or gold, and have divine magics as a result. Tal is one such Smith, born with silver in his veins and visions in his dream, he has a deep faith towards the Unforged God and is willing to sacrifice almost anything in order to see his visions through to fruition and save

"Once, there was a girl who was afraid."

The Destroyer is the heir to the empire, and someone with Mercurial veins, having the incendiary powers of mercury, and the personality to go with it. Having dealt with the struggles of the empire (including assassination attempts!) for almost as long as she can remember, Elodie is quick to anger and dangerous at the best of times. From the get-go she was a fantastically layered and dynamic character, and the amount of character growth she went underwent throughout this novel was truly incredible.

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

Nyx is the younger sister of Tal, and has stewed in anger since her seeming abandonment, training with a rebel faction in the hopes of assassinating The Destroyer and ending the regime. She's fierce, takes no prisoners, dedicated, and has an unwavering faith in her brother despite not exactly being happy with some of his choices...

When the girl woke, a gray snow was falling, and the world was silent in the way it only ever was in the aftermath of a great cataclysm.

This is a very character-driven story, and the relationships that develop are what truly make it, but honestly everything about it was brilliant; the plot was action-packed and fast paced, the world building was well fleshed out, and the secondary romances worked perfectly with everything else that was going on. I also really appreciated the fact that there was LGBTQ+ representation with well written and strong characters.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book and thought it was super well balanced; the characters, the world building, the plot, the representation, everything! It all flowed super well and was very natural, and whilst there were some aspects that didn't quite work for me, they were very minor and did not in any way detract from my enjoyment of the novel. All-in-all, a fantastic book, and one I would highly recommend.

Please note, there are multiple trigger-warnings for this book, best described in the author's review, if you're worried about certain topics, I recommend reading their review before delving into the story.
Profile Image for Musing of Souls.
65 reviews7 followers
March 15, 2021
One of the best fantasies I read in 2021!
Simply love how everything is written!
Beautiful imagery and characters!
Profile Image for veronica.
68 reviews
March 11, 2021
This book is told from the perspective of three characters: Tal, the reluctant bodyguard of the Destroyer who has magical fire powers and a long body count; and Nyx, Tal's sister who wants nothing more than to see his brother safe and away from the Destroyer.

What first attracted me to this book was the cover and I'm very pleased I decided to pick this up as I'm now obsessed and invested with these characters. The main cast of characters were wonderfully relatable and complex and go through fantastical development. Hughe's writing made me fall in love with the characters very quickly, their inner dialogues really made it easy to connect with the characters and understand their actions.

The writing as a whole really captured me, the worldbuilding was done very well by combining world details with the plot so there were no big chunks of information given at one time. It was fast-paced and engaging, simply good writing.

One of my favourite aspects was the sibling relationships explored throughout the book, from Nyx and Tal's loving sibling duo to the Destroyer and the Iron Empress' cold but fierce bond, it was really interesting to delve into these relationships.

My one criticism would be the use of 'modern' language that feels out of place in this setting and at times made me cringe. Other than that, I can't fault this book and I just wish there was more!

If you're a fan of fantasy, complex characters and wonderful family and romantic relationships then I recommend this book for you.
Profile Image for Alyssa.
71 reviews9 followers
January 18, 2023
Actual rating : 4.5 stars

" I swear to protect you, and to never allow harm to come to you and to never harm you myself"

Tal lives in the Alloyed Empire, ruled by the Iron Empress and her younger sister, The Destroyer. Metal runs through her veins, giving her incendiary abilities. When Tal's god sends him a vision, requesting him to protect the Destroyer, it leads him to a memorable journey, ending, or maybe starting, with the loss of The Destroyer's memories

This book pleasingly surprised me and I had a really great time reading. I didn't read the synopsis before diving into the book, so I was delighted when i read about not only blood magic, but metal blood magic ! I think the magic system and the whole world building are so unique and well-thought.

The plot of this story was very complex, and by the end of each chapter, it became even more elaborated. I did find some plot points boring but the action made up for it. The story is full of drama, , love, passion, determination, hatred, and betrayal.

Not only this, but the main characters are really complex and endearing and you find yourself sympathizing with all of them ( honorable mention to Maluk the super cute doggo).

- " Once there was a boy who believed" : Tal, I loved Tal, the selfless conflicted character, not able to choose between his belief and his feelings.

-" Once there was a girl who was afraid" : The Destroyer (Elodie) was my favorite character. Her character's arc was amazing, from the cruel, cold, powerful murderess to the afraid, vulnerable, but capable of love and sacrifices, girl.

-"Once there was a girl who believed only in her brother" : Even though Nyx was more of a background character, I still loved her, the girl, capable to go to hell and back for her brother. Her relationship with Helenia was the most adorable thing.

I definitely recommend this book especially if you like the following points :
- a unique YA fantasy
-blood magic
-enemies-to-lovers bound to each other by an oath
- swords and daggers
I'd also recommend this book to lovers of the Grisha trilogy !

here are some of my favorite scenes : “I wish you weren’t so dif­fer­ent now,” he muttered as he un­locked the man­acles from his wrists.
She raised an eye­brow. “Oh? Why is that?”
“Be­cause it shouldn’t be this hard to hate you,” he said, and without an­other word, he pushed past her to be­gin har­ness­ing the dogs.

Voice rough with pain, he said, “You will never let me go, will you?”
She didn’t un­der­stand the words, but she was afraid that she would soon if her memor­ies kept sur­fa­cing, and she dis­covered that she didn’t want to. “Shut up and let me save you,” she snapped, try­ing to heave him up without jost­ling him too much.

“she was fire, she was mercury, she was death. she was a weapon in the hands of her empress.”

Thank you to netgalley and to the author Naomi Hughes for providing me with an ARC of Mercurial in exchange of an honest review !
Profile Image for TheGeekishBrunette.
1,135 reviews28 followers
March 16, 2021
Thank you to the author and netgalley for an earc to read in exchange for a review.

I wasn’t aware of this book until I came across it on Netgalley. It was a “read now” so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try especially because the cover is fantastic and blurb sounded quite intriguing. Sadly, this is probably a case of it’s me and not the book as others have really enjoyed it, but I never found myself ever connecting with it.

When it came to the characters, I was intrigued at the beginning. There was a lot of potential for them. They do go through a lot, especially Tal and the Destroyer aka Elodie but without a connection I just couldn’t feel any emotions towards what they were going through. There is also memory loss but I feel like that stunted their overall growth.

Nyx was the character I enjoyed the most because she stayed true to her actions and who she was. I liked that she was determined to save her brother no matter the cause.

There are two different relationships in the book. The relationship with Tal and Elodie just didn’t work for me. I think a lot of the development happened off the pages in the two years of him being her bodyguard leading up to all of this. I never felt the chemistry and I don’t think the memory loss helped. I understand that he was devoted to her but it isn’t enough to convince me of their love for one another.

Another issue I had was the world-building. It was very lacking and I still have many unanswered questions when it comes to their magic system, their religion, and even the empire as a whole. There wasn’t much description for the places they were at either.

The last thing I wanted to talk about was how sometimes things just didn’t make sense.

The action of the book is pretty good and the plot twists aren’t bad. They are the two reasons I kept going. They just weren’t enough for me to like this one.

Overall, it was okay. I wish I could have loved it but it just wasn’t for me. Like I said above, others have enjoyed this one and I’m sure there will be more that will like it too.
Profile Image for romi.
146 reviews5 followers
March 16, 2021
Rating: 4.5
"Mercurial" is written in third person from the perspective of three characters - the Destroyer, Tal and his sister Nyx. It is a short and easy read. I really adored the writing style. It was so simple and yet so wonderfully written that I think it can easily fall under the "middle-grade" category. I couldn't really decide whether this was a character-driven story or a plot-driven one - there were times when the plot felt way more important than the characters and vice versa, but I don't mind that. It was very well balanced. The story is medium paced but it picks up drastically after the sixty percent mark, making it soo wonderfully enrapturing that you just can't put it down!


I really admire the way mental health was dealt with in this book. Naomi has soo wonderfully talked about loss, grief, violence, fear, love, trauma, split personality, memory loss, abuse, friendship and family - it was really endearing to read.

"Finding the end of a journey satisfactory does not erase the pain of the path that brought you there."

It's a story about - choosing between fear and love, choosing between the righteous thing to do and the right thing to do, choosing between murder and mercy.

"I came back, because I could no longer pretend, even to myself, that I don't love you."

Starting from the world to the characters to the plot to the ending to the love interest to the fact that it is stand alone - it was great! The romance was really minimal in this book and yet omnipresent, which yet another interesting thing about this story. And there characters from various communities (the LGBT+, black characters); so, yay to diversity!
*Thank you to Net Galley for providing me with an Arc in exchange of an an honest review*

Profile Image for Emma.
160 reviews25 followers
April 25, 2021
"You were right when you said I loved Elodie. But you were wrong when you said you weren't her."

Finished this in one day, that's the level of obsession I had since the first page. The story was very original, with good world-building and complex characters. I really liked the plot and the "not all is black and white" vibe of the book, and all the fight scenes.

Now, I was expecting an enemies to lovers, but I wasn't ready for it to be so well done, Tal's feelings are so well developed it made me crazy. He truly hates her and he's truly falling for her too, this is a TRUE enemies to lovers where one scene is him almost killing her and another scene is him noticing a little romantic detail on her. It was so amazing, almost my favorite thing, cause Elodie is my top one.

"My name is Elodie. And I will forgive who I wish."

Her character is truly amazing cause she doesn't change abruptly, is a slow recognition of the girl she had always been.

This is a 4 stars only because I couldn't stand some of Nyx's pov and because I hated the little moments we had of Tal and Elodie, I'd love to see more of them, it felt like the end was rushed, and we almost didn't read them together. But it's an amazing story anyways.

Arc provied via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Olivia.
207 reviews6 followers
February 25, 2021
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Thank you to Independent Book Publishers Association for providing me this arc via Netgalley!
I'm not usually a fan of standalone fantasy novels, but this was amazing. The plot kept me hooked, the characters were all super complex and interesting and the magic system and world building were so innovative. The romance was perfect as well, on both couples.
Profile Image for Kirstie Ellen.
741 reviews101 followers
March 24, 2021
This was AMAZING. Loved it. Devoured it. Want more. I love the cover, I loved the characters, I loved the setting, I loved all the stabby-ness. So much angst. So much action. Many dogs (that I imagined were huskies). An addictive and fun read for all you lovers of fantasy that has a heavy dose of assassins!

What's it about?
Mercurial is a YA fantasy with MAGIC. We have two main characters, the Destroyer and Tal. In this world, magic is dictated by metals - some people have different metals (gold, iron, mercury, etc) in their blood and that gives them different kinds of magic. Only in the palace and its surrounding establishments do you find people with significant power, and a rebellion is trying to overthrow the current Empress because of a cruel and dictatorial rule.

The Destroyer is the Empress' younger sister and she got her nickname from being cruel and merciless. Her metal is mercury and she creates fire. Tal is pledged to her, after having a vision from his god to do so, and he is secretly a silver smith. Silver smiths are illegal and as far as we know, Tal is the only one alive.

The blood of anyone with this magic in them is tainted the colour of their metal. So this means Tal bleeds silver. You can imagine then, that it's very important no-one sees him bleeding. A tricky predicament for the bodyguard of a frequently targeted person of assassinations.

This is the story of Tal and the Destroyer. After an event leaves the Destroyer with no magic and no memories, the dynamics shift and morals become seriously blurred. It is a tale of enemies to lovers, of strong friendships and the impossibilities of family.

Why I enjoyed this
Ummmm - IT WAS SO GOOD. I was tearing through the pages of this and enjoying every moment. The story is breezy and not too complicated - it's great to sink your teeth into and get a healthy dose of teenage angst and fiery (literally) magic.

I found the dynamics between the Destroyer and Tal delectable. As much as they were entertaining enough when the Destroyer was a total nutcase-evil-queen-overlord-pooh, once Tal was dealing with her when she had no memories, and was actually being nice, stuff got COMPLICATED.

Nothing delights me more than throwing endless moral challenges at characters to see how they'll react, and to watch them learn and understand that sometimes the world isn't as black and white as it first appears.

The world
I wanted to take a second to talk about how much I loved the setting of this book too. It is largely set in a wintery landscape around some harsh mountains. The snow and bitterness of the landscape really added some delightful tension to the overall chaos of the story.

I found it really easy to picture - and I loved imagining the animal called the Mooncat - and I'd love to see some artwork for this setting. I think it would be utterly captivating.

I also really loved the diverseness of the characters. Not only am I talking skin colour here, but religion. I thought that was an interesting addition to a fantasy book that you don't always see present in this conflicted manner as you do here.

With one of the main motivations of Tal, being the main character, to do what he's doing through the whole book having come from a divine vision, religion plays a central role in this story. I really enjoyed how religion played with the motives of a lot of the characters involved and how differently they each interpreted it.

Whilst it's not largely explored, Hughes also touches on the idea of contrasting faiths and religions causing conflict in the story too. It makes me really curious about what the rest of this world would look like if this story was expanded into an epic series - though as a standalone it is quite sufficient.

This is a fantasy you simply need to read if you want something quick and exciting with some great characters. I really enjoyed this and I was so pleased I did! The cover is simply gorgeous and I will be obsessing over these characters for a long time to come.

Happy reading!

*Thank you to IBPA and Naomi Hughes for a copy of this in exchange for an honest review
98 reviews6 followers
July 22, 2021
" The unforged God looked out upon the emptiness of the universe and was displeased. Desiring a new creation, he tore himself into pieces: copper, silver, gold, iron, platinum, and all the other metals. With these pieces, the world was created. Into some of the men and women who rose up were planted the seeds of divinity: metal flowing through their blood, lending them one of the divine magics and the special connection to the unforged God. These people God named Smiths."

Tal was a silver smith, which meant he had silver running through his blood. A gift that allowed him to see visions of the future, and a curse, because where he lived having silver blood was a death sentence.
When a vision leads him to the Destroyer, the Empress's younger sister and most important weapon, Tal has no choice but to follow. Guided by his heart and faith in his God, he offers his services to protect the Destroyer secretly believing that this is the only way to rid the people of the tyranny of the rule of the Empress and her sister.
To prove his loyalty, he swears a metal oath, which is unbreakable, except by death or the fulfillment of its terms. This oath compels Tal to do anything to protect the Destroyer, to protect his enemy. But when some major event causes the Destroyer to lose her magic, Tal starts to see new things about her character. He sees her in a new light, as someone he could like.

Tal is a brave character. At the beginning of the book, he is a believer. As the story progresses, his character witnesses some major changes and development.
Elodie aka the Destroyer is person who shows a merciless face, but beneath the surface her personality is sweet. Her character development was so strong, and her personality portrayed so much of what she has been through.

What I liked about the book:
- I loved the idea of the book and the character development.
- The ending, especially the bonus story was so good.

What I didn't like about the book:
- Some of the choices the characters made were really weird, for example Saacha's character.
-The amount of violence that Nyx showed throughout the novel and how all she wanted to do was kill the Destroyer.
- The fact that no one saw Tal's blood, despite the fact that he was injured in a couple of fights while trying to save the Destroyer's life was not so convincing.

Overall, this was a good adventure about belief, faith, and love.

Thank you to Netgalley for providing a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

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