Review | The Merciless by Danielle Vega

The Merciless

Danielle Vega
Published: June 2014
Page count: 279
Genre: Horror / Young Adult

Plot at a Glance:

Forgive us, Father, for we have sinned

Brooklyn Stevens sits in a pool of her own blood, tied up and gagged. No one outside of these dank basement walls knows she’s here. No one can hear her scream.

Sofia Flores knows she shouldn’t have gotten involved. When she befriended Riley, Grace, and Alexis on her first day at school, she admired them, with their perfect hair and their good-girl ways. They said they wanted to save Brooklyn. They wanted to help her. Sofia didn’t realize they believed Brooklyn was possessed.

Now, Riley and the girls are performing an exorcism on Brooklyn—but their idea of an exorcism is closer to torture than salvation. All Sofia wants is to get out of this house. But there is no way out. Sofia can’t go against the other girls – unless she wants to be next…

In this chilling debut, Danielle Vega delivers blood-curdling suspense and terror on every page. By the shockingly twisted end, readers will be faced with the most haunting question of all: Is there evil in all of us?


While fantasy is my favorite book genre, horror is one of my favorite movie genres, and I was just realizing the other day that I don’t read enough of it. You name a horror movie, I’ve probably seen it twice, but for some reason I don’t gravitate towards scary books as much as I probably should. So, when over the weekend I came across The Merciless by Danielle Vega, I was immediately drawn in by the understated cover design and the promise of dark, twisted horror that is at its heart, absolutely without mercy.

Clocking in at 279 pages, I blew through this baby in an afternoon. While it’s not the most original horror ever, and there were a few stumbling blocks – particularly at the beginning and very end – the middle section of the story was is a wild ride that was difficult to put down. Buyer be warned though, this is horror that I think is best suited for fans of the genre. To be quite frank about it, a layperson who doesn’t particularly enjoy scares or being grossed out by gore should probably find another book to read as this book has both in spades.

While I think that Vega nails the horrific aspects of this book, it’s the other stuff that I’ve come to look for in the novels I read that I found lacking – particularly complex characters with true blue development from page one until the end. 279 pages was just not enough space to properly introduce and develop the cast of cannon fodder characters in this novel.

Aside from Sofia and to a lesser extent, Brooklyn, we know absolutely nothing about any of the characters. What are their home lives like? What do other students in the school think of them? Why does Riley think she knows how to exorcise a demon from anybody? Because we don’t know these imperative facts about the characters, we cannot know what motivates their actions, making the majority of their decisions feel like they were generated from the stock horror movie dumb decision playbook.

For a novel that was published under the Razorbill – the Young Adult imprint of Penguin Random House – this story went heavy on adult horror content. I didn’t have a problem with it, but those looking for spooky and atmospheric horror alone should probably look elsewhere as this is filled to the brim with blood, torture and gore, as well as other adult oriented content such as drug abuse and mild sexual content.

Vega took the time to incorporate twists and turns into this to elevate it out of just being a by-the-numbers slasher, though the way that supernatural horror elements are incorporated sort of comes at a detriment to some character’s arcs. Some of the human characters in this story are deranged enough on their own that the entirety of the horror could have come from their behavior. The inclusion of supernatural horror alongside the human horror left me wondering how we were meant to feel about these characters when all was said and done.

All in all, this wasn’t a bad read. It’s extremely fast paced and full of enough horror to please any fan of the genre. The Merciless is a lot like one of those straight-to-streaming platform, independent horror films out today. Though I probably wouldn’t pay full price to watch a movie version of this in theaters, I’d gladly sit at home in the dark with a big bowl of popcorn and let this indulge the old scare center of my brain for a couple of hours.


🌟🌟🌟 = 3.5/5 stars! 

Have you read this? What did you think of it? What other horror or scary reads do you love?




43 thoughts on “Review | The Merciless by Danielle Vega

Add yours

  1. I don’t read too much horror, Stephen King and Dean Koontz are my go to’s for horror. This sounds like a good scare.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I can totally relate. I try to see every horror movie, good and bad, but don’t really read a lot of horror. I’m definitely trying to remedy that! I just finished The Broken Girls by Simone St. James and I’ve got a couple other horror novels lined up. I’ll definitely add this one to my TBR!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wonderful review! I’d seen this one on the shelves at my library but have yet to pick it up. Like you, horror is one of my favorite genres but I don’t read enough of it. The premise to this one sounds intriguing but it’s disappointing to hear that the character development is lacking and that some of the horror elements were detrimental to other factors of plot’s inherent strength. Also sad to hear that there’s actually some supernatural activity going on. I was really hoping the horror was played up by the characters themselves and human nature. Oh well. I love B (and C and D) horror movies, so this sounds like something I’d enjoy reading regardless LOL.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Azia, if you’re a fan of horror, I definitely think that you’ll find a lot to like in this! Like I said in my review, the horror fan in me was compelled to keep reading and see the horror play out. The characters are weak, but the horror still pretty on point.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. My first thought when I saw the cover was “Oh my gosh, I have the matching purse!” I was super excited until I realized I’d probably end up sleeping with the lights on for days if I ever tried to read this.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Stephen King! Wow, you had guts o.0 I’ve never read his works, how is ‘IT’? Is it scary? I’ve heard ppl say the movie wasn’t as frightening as the book.


  5. Great review! I also love watching horror movies but I don’t read a lot of Horror books. Merciless does sound interesting. Demons and witchcraft thing always involves gore and blood but they never scare me enough. I mostly enjoy reading spooky ghost hunting books, they at least gives me chills. My favorite series is Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper By J. L. Bryan.
    Anyway, hope you enjoy rest of the series! Happy reading! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for the review! I’ll be checking this author out in the future!

    I really love Clive Barker and Joe Hill. Barker’s short stories are perf and I love The Thief of Always LOVE LOVE altho that’s less horror-y and more Coraline-esque. I have yet to be able to get thru a Stephen King book, but most everything Joe Hill has put out, I’ve loved. If you like graphic novels, Locke and Key is superb.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great review, horror films are my absolutely favorite films as well especially if it is sci-fi horror, I don’t read a lot of horror books too which I really need to remedy that hopefully soon. But I was kind of iffy about this book but after reading your review I might need to check it out one day. Thank you so much for sharing your awesome post.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m so happy I stumbled across your blog! I’ve had this book on my shelves for year but never gotten to it. Now I want to read it immediately. To be honest, I haven’t read any gory books yet, but I have been curious about the genre!

    Liked by 1 person

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