3 Stars for Mercy’s Prisoner by Dusk Peterson – #MM @duskpeterson


Title: Mercy’s Prisoner (Life Prison, #1)
Author Name: Dusk Peterson
Publication Date & Length: August 26, 2014 – 264pgs


“‘You have committed a vile and savage act, one that any other nation would punish with death. Our punishment, on the other hand, will only be to give you what you want. You have sought to live in a world without boundaries of civilization, and such a world shall henceforth be your dwelling place.'”

A cold-hearted murderer. A vicious abuser. A young man hiding a shameful secret. A bewildered immigrant. A pure-minded spy.

All of these men have found their appointed places at Mercy Life Prison, where it is easy to tell who your enemies are. But a new visitor to Mercy is about to challenge decades-old customs. Now these men’s worst enemies may be hiding behind masks . . . and so may their closest allies.

A runner-up in the Rainbow Awards 2014, the book bundle “Mercy’s Prisoner” can be read on its own or as the first volume in the Life Prison series. Friendship, desire between men, and the costs of corruption and integrity are examined in this multicultural speculative fiction series, which is inspired by prison life at the end of the nineteenth century.

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Borrowing from the author’s website, “Life Prison is a speculative fiction series about male desire and determination in nineteenth-century prisons.” Each of these things is true.
The world-building is exquisite. Anchored in Maryland is the Republic of Mip and its life prisons, forgotten places where the worst criminals go and pray to die. Dying, though, is outlawed, because it is an escape from punishment.
This is an anthology of sorts. The first protagonist is Merrick, a child-murderer. That should set the tone. The murder is vivid and gruesome, as are the rapes and beatings Merrick endures in the life prison.
It’s unrelenting. This is not a light book, and it’s not a redemptive book. If rape, murder, and torture are not for you, then this book is not for you.
Dusk Peterson, despite this, has a huge following. The writing is fantastic. Each word shows talent and craft, research and imagination, passion and purpose. Mercy‘s Prisoner is a great read.
It gets three stars from me because of its ultimately frustrating lack of resolution. Mysteries are hinted at, plots thicken, but there’s no payoff. Dusk relies on murky atmosphere rather than resolution, and leaves the reader with no catharsis.
If you step into Mercy Prison, there will be no escape.
C.E. Case


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Honored in the Rainbow Awards, Dusk Peterson writes historical speculative fiction and lgtbq novels. Suspense plays an important role in many of the tales; the conflict in those tales is both external and internal. Peterson’s stories are often placed in dark settings, such as prisons or wartime locations. The mood of the stories, however, is not one of unrelieved gloominess: romance, friendship, and faithful service are recurring themes. Visitduskpeterson.com for e-books and free fiction.


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