If TJ Klune's "Under the Whispering Door" and Ashley Poston's "Dead Romantics" went to a Western-themed party and played a game called "You've Got Mail: Gods and Zombies Edition," you'd get this bonkers genre mashup of a book! Demigod Marshal Hart Ralston patrols the derelict wilderness of the Old Gods to keep the border towns safe from zombie-like drudges. Sunshiney Mercy Birdsall shoulders the weight of Birdsall & Sons Undertakers, giving a respectful send off to the departed. She doesn't appreciate the callous demigod marshal; he doesn't appreciate upselling undertakers. When lonely Hart impulsively pours his feelings into an unsigned letter to "Dear friend" and a giant foul-mouthed jackrabbit deity delivers it to Mercy who unanimously writes back ... the rom-com game is afoot. But so is the increasingly dangerous mystery of the drudges population.
- Recommended by Dawn and Nicole; reviewed by Dawn— From Books We Loved in 2022
"A uniquely charming mixture of whimsy and the macabre that completely won me over. If you ever wished for an adult romance that felt like Howl's Moving Castle, THIS IS THAT BOOK." —Helen Hoang, author of The Kiss Quotient
Hart is a marshal, tasked with patrolling the strange and magical wilds of Tanria. It’s an unforgiving job, and Hart’s got nothing but time to ponder his loneliness.
Mercy never has a moment to herself. She’s been single-handedly keeping Birdsall & Son Undertakers afloat in defiance of sullen jerks like Hart, who seems to have a gift for showing up right when her patience is thinnest.
After yet another exasperating run-in with Mercy, Hart finds himself penning a letter addressed simply to “A Friend”. Much to his surprise, an anonymous letter comes back in return, and a tentative friendship is born.
If only Hart knew he’s been baring his soul to the person who infuriates him most—Mercy. As the dangers from Tanria grow closer, so do the unlikely correspondents. But can their blossoming romance survive the fated discovery that their pen pals are their worst nightmares—each other?
Set in a world full of magic and demigods, donuts and small-town drama, this enchantingly quirky, utterly unique fantasy is perfect for readers of The House in the Cerulean Sea and The Invisible Library.
"Truly outstanding romantic fantasy." —India Holton
"An unabashedly offbeat adventure." —Freya Marske
"I cried twice and smiled plenty." —Olivia Atwater
"A little sweet, a little spicy, a little sharp and entirely moreish!" —Davinia Evans
"I showed up for the fantastic, fun fantasy setting but it was Hart and Mercy that kept me reading." —Ruby Dixon
Megan Bannen is a former public librarian whose YA debut The Bird and the Blade was an Indies Introduce pick for 2018, a Kids Indie Next Fall 2018 List pick, a Kirkus Best YA of 2018, and recently was named by Stephenie Meyer as the most recent book that made her cry. In her spare time, she collects graduate degrees from Kansas colleges and universities. While most of her professional career has been spent in public libraries, she has also sold luggage, written grants, and taught English at home and abroad. She lives in the Kansas City area with her husband and their two sons.