Mercury in Retrograde by Merethe Walther starts you on an interplanetary journey that will thrill you until the very last page.
The Mercury in Retrograde Story
Mercury in Retrograde follows the story of Aralyn Solari a short while after she’s been released from a mega-prison called Tartarys. Having served her time for running (trafficking illegal goods), she finds herself offered an opportunity for one last job. The payout means she’ll never have to run again and can live out the rest of her life in peace. As an added bonus, she was given the job by Eladia, someone who saved Aralyn’s life while she was imprisoned, so it seems like a good way to repay that kindness. Do the job, get paid, live happily ever after.
If only things were that simple for our heroine!
- The job goes all wrong, including her buyer not showing up as promised and sending someone to plant drugs on Aralyn so she’ll get arrested (again).
- She’s temporarily detained by her ex-boyfriend (now in a position to arrest her since he’s joined the outer space police force known as the UDA) who she hasn’t seen since they were both caught running contraband. She gets sent to prison, he gets a new job. Something’s not right here and it is KEY to untangling the nonsense that follows Aralyn all throughout the book.
- The object that Aralyn’s buyer was supposed to be purchasing from her is stolen after her ship is ransacked.
All this makes for a great story by itself, but when you realize that you’ve covered all of these plot points and you haven’t even reached the third chapter, you know you’re in for a long, wild ride!
What You’ll Love About This Book
There is plenty to unpack with Mercury in Retrograde, so anyone looking for a thick volume to sink their mental teeth into will be pleased. Everything that kick-started the story is embedded in the ending and makes the plot feel whole and mostly resolved. There are lots of moments that will make you cringe (descriptions of the daily traumas that take place at Tartarys), scream in frustration (characters doing idiotic things that make you want to shake their teeth out of their head), and laugh (from nerdy quips to comical circumstances).
And through it all, the underlying story of Caden and Aralyn’s romantic relationship ebbs and flows. Will they rekindle their old bond, or will the betrayal and resentment Aralyn feels toward him be too much? Was Caden actually the one who sold her out, or is there more to the story? How couldn’t Caden be the one who betrayed her if he didn’t serve a day in prison and ended up on the other side of the law?
Merethe Walther keeps the adventure spinning paragraph after paragraph to hold a reader’s attention across all 445 pages.
What You’ll Struggle With
There were some noticeable problems with wording and grammar, almost as though the book hadn’t been (or had been poorly) line edited or copy edited. For the average reader, I’m not sure these things would make much of a difference. For those who do notice, the book is still worth the read, just brace yourself for some of what you’ll come across. For example, “standing to her feet” (as opposed to standing to her ankles or standing to her knees?) made an appearance more than once. As well as phrases such as “tens of hundreds” (thousands?) and “carrying a small suitcase of luggage behind him” (no, the suitcase was not filled with other suitcases, if that’s what you’re thinking).
You’ll also run into a few places where the intelligence and resolve that it would have taken to survive a terror like Tartarys seems to just vanish from Aralyn’s persona. For instance, there is a scene in which Aralyn is in a Tartarys cell and has something CRITICAL hidden in her boot. Yet, when a prisoner she doesn’t trust sidles up to the cell, she remains in her position, the special boot toward him. So, even though the scene is written as though him stealing what’s in her boot is sudden or surprising, I knew exactly what was about to happen because she let him so close to her precious cargo. It would seem that, if she had spent so much time in Tartarys around a throng of highly untrustworthy people, she would have switched to a different position immediately after he came into view or put more distance between them.
Periodically, there are errors in logic that pop up as well. So, if this is some kind of pet peeve for you, be aware that they’re coming up. Using the same scene as an example, the thieving prisoner is somehow able to (1) reach into the cell, (2) grab Aralyn’s booted foot, (3) pry the boot off of Aralyn’s foot, and (4) pull the boot through to his side of the bars as the cell door automatically slams shut for the night, all before she can kick his hand away, fight him off, or pull her boot out of his grasp. This scene left me with a lot of little questions about the characters and the circumstances (Just how big is he? How light is Aralyn? Why would she lift her foot off of the ground to allow him the leverage he needed to get the boot off? Does the boot not have sufficient laces to the point that he could slide it off with no problem?), but don’t hinder your reading experience much.
IN THE END
Overall, I give Mercury in Retrograde 4.5 stars. Be aware of the bumps in the copy, but don’t be deterred from starting this exhilarating series!