Saturday, October 3, 2020

REVIEW: The Fate of Mercy Alban (audiobook) by Wendy Webb, narrated by Kristen Potter

The Fate of Mercy Alban is a blend of horror and mystery but does not, I think, qualify as gothic fiction. I checked it out via one of the library Overdrive accounts I have access to.

This review includes major spoilers. If you'd like to read a spoiler-tagged version, I cross-post on Goodreads and LibraryThing.


Years ago, Grace Alban left her family home, determined to escape the painful events that haunted her. The unexpected death of her mother brings her back to Alban House, with her teen daughter in tow. It turns out that Grace's mother had intended to tell a reporter about some of the Alban family's secrets. Was it the Alban family's curse that killed her?

As Grace tries to figure out what the next steps will be for her and Alban House and introduces her daughter to some of Alban House's more benign secrets (nifty secret passageways), she begins to uncover things about her family that even she was unaware of.

The description for this book referred to Alban House as "haunted," and that's what I was hoping for: a creepy story, with lots of atmosphere, about a haunted house and a family whose history was filled with dark secrets. Instead, I got zero atmosphere, completely different supernatural aspects than what the description had hinted at, ridiculously convoluted family secrets, and cheesy and clunky "horror."

It didn't help that, as the story wore on, I became more and more tired of the Alban family and how their wealth and "respectable" status in town helped them bypass almost every difficulty and consequence without hardly thinking about it. Even Grace, who'd been away for years, wielded the family's power and money like it was only natural. The local police acted as her personal guard, and no one ever asked Grace to prove that she and her family needed that kind of assistance and attention. 

When the handsome local minister finally talked more about himself and his own life, I thought for sure that he had to be a secret villain, trying to lead the last of the Alban family to their downfall. However, his and Grace's budding romance turned out to be real rather than some kind of trap, and the true villain was a supernatural baddie who wasn't so much creepy and scary as incredibly cheesy. Right up to the end, I thought there was going to be a twist that revealed something truly sinister behind the ridiculous rhyming supposed witch. Nope. And the whole "the evil hasn't been defeated and will come back" ending was particularly bad.

All in all, this went from being mildly interesting despite not being the sort of story I'd hoped to read, to being a completely cheesy mess that was almost painful to finish.

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