House of Mercy – Erin Healy

House of Mercy Erin Healy
House of Mercy by Erin Healy
Published by Thomas Nelson on August 2012
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Suspense, Speculative
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Beth has a gift of healing—which is why she wants to become a vet and help her family run their fifth-generation cattle ranch. Her father’s dream of helping men in trouble and giving them a second chance is her dream too. But it only takes one foolish decision for Beth to destroy it all.

Beth scrambles to redeem her mistake, pleading with God for help, even as a mystery complicates her life. The repercussions grow more unbearable—a lawsuit, a death, a divided family, and the looming loss of everything she cares about. Beth’s only hope is to find the grandfather she never knew and beg for his help. Confused, grieving, and determined to make amends, she embarks on a horseback journey across the mountains, guided by a wild, unpredictable wolf who may or may not be real.

Set in the stunningly rugged terrain of Southern Colorado, House of Mercy follows Beth through the valley of the shadow of death into the unfathomable miracles of God’s goodness and mercy.

Beth Borzoi stole a saddle, but it was for a good cause.

Absurd as that may sound, all of us have made absurd justifications in our own mind to cover for our own sins. That’s exactly the situation Beth finds herself in. She escapes immediate justice — or so it seems for an hour or two.

And then the first of many catastrophes strikes. Sometimes when terrible things start happening, it’s perfect opportunity for more and more terrible things to just pile themselves on. Furthermore, as Beth’s world crumbles around her, trouble is brewing just a town or two over. The two stories are intertwined in ways both brilliant and subtle as Beth seeks some sort of solution to the mess she has landed in with the ones she loves.

With House of Mercy, Erin Healy gave me a novel that didn’t sound terribly appealing to me personally. Not my type of book, horses and ranches and so on. But I read it because I know Erin, and I’ve read her other books, and she’s earned my trust. I was spot-on in that trust. I’m by no means a horse person, nor do I know anything about ranches or veterinarians. The whole setting for luxury ranch real estate was beautiful in the book.  But the setting of the book has little effect on the potency of its themes. I may not know horses or countryside, but I am well acquainted with mercy. I know its central role in my life, and stories — even fictional accounts — that display that kind of God’s mercy in the lives of others cannot help but be powerful.

There were a couple of things that confused me. A character was introduced very prominently, but then had virtually nothing to do with the story as it progressed. Also, if you like stories to be strictly real-world with no aspects of the supernatural affecting the natural realm, well, I’d say you’d have to avoid Healy altogether. Things happen in all of her books that really can’t be explained and really aren’t explained but sort of hand-waved as something supernatural. That’s a bit weird to accept at first, but it doesn’t really take away from the book’s experience as a whole.

I sat down to read House of Mercy in the airport before a two-and-a-half hour flight, and I was done by the time I reached my destination. It’s a compelling read and not difficult to understand. But by no means is it an exhausted storyline or a simple plot. On the contrary, the characters are multi-dimensional; even the villain of the story is unexpected, complicated, and hard to hate.

Erin’s storytelling is, as always, excellent. She’s tightly woven together seemingly unrelated storylines, realistic characters, intriguing setting, and through it all runs this beautiful thread of mercy, just as the title implies. The result? This book will make you think. It’ll make you question yourself. It’ll stretch you. It’s not one you want to miss.


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