Mercy Markos and the Blades of Betrayal

Young Adult - Fantasy - General
345 Pages
Reviewed on 07/06/2023
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    Book Review

Reviewed by David Korson for Readers' Favorite

Mercy Markos and the Blades of Betrayal by Sally Gratz Garcia is a clever coming-of-age fantasy that hits all the marks. Growing up in a community responsible for protecting Earth’s elements can be difficult for a young girl. But Mercy Markos faces her toughest challenges when she enters the Tray, a school designed to train students to develop their elemental powers. With the emergence of unexpected abilities, the discovery of a pertinent prophecy, and brushes with villains, Mercy will have her hands full with more than just homework assignments. Fortunately, she makes some trustworthy friends to help her navigate the complexities of the mysterious school. Though she has a lot to juggle during her first year at the Tray, with her friends by her side, Mercy is determined to uncover a truth concealed for decades.

If you’ve ever been enamored with a grand tale of an unwitting character attending a whimsical school for special kids, you’ll enjoy reading Mercy Markos and the Blades of Betrayal. Though some broad similarities exist between Sally Gratz Garcia’s book and other enchanted-school fantasy novels, the distinct characters and unique world-building place this book in a class of its own. The world is replete with history and nuances that bring it alive, and a burgeoning conspiracy adds a depth of intrigue and tension that kept me glued to the pages. Led by a young protagonist discovering where she fits into the world, Mercy Markos and the Blades of Betrayal is an enthralling and engaging mystery set in a meticulously crafted fantasy world.

David Cameron

Mercy Marcos and The Blades of Betrayal by Sally Gratz Garcia is set in The Tray, a school for Ara’Jaeon children on an island in the Mediterranean. The Ara’Jaeon is a magical, purple-eyed race living among humans, but their existence is mainly unknown. Mercy’s parents are members of the Ecclesia and have become involved in a secret security mission. As a result, she enters the Tray earlier than her parents intended. On her first night, danger awaits the Metalicons, but her new friends Tambora, Vesuvius, and Phin help her. This is just the start of her adventures. An ancient prophecy, a murder mystery, and betrayal set the scene for an enthralling mystery.

At first, it is hard not to recognize the setting of a magical boarding school and a child who discovers they have exceptional magical powers, but Sally Gratz Garcia’s writing is imaginative and compelling, and soon you are swept up in her world. Mercy and her friends are real and have all the human weaknesses. This tale of self-discovery, belief, and romance is tied into a young adult fantasy mystery. The magic lore is complex, and the magical world is believable. Garcia’s writing sweeps you along as she builds the tension from the first chapter and doesn’t let up. She takes this world and makes it all her own. Her villains are very bad, as good and evil struggle, but you can’t help but root for twelve-year-old Mercy. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I look forward to reading the next in the series.

Cloie Belle Daffon

Mercy’s parents, Orion and Emzlie Markos, were called to service by the Ecclesia. They received an order to report to the Southern Atlantic Regional Agency. Ecclesia was one of the most exclusive groups of Ara’Jaeons. Membership in the Ecclesia was for life, and each term of active service was five years. Twelve-year-old Mercy was left alone while her parents were off fulfilling their duties. Despite Mercy’s wishes, they sent her to the Training and Residence for Ara’Jaeon Youth Center, located high on a hill in an unpopulated area on the island's northwestern tip, Ara’Ja. Minor children with nowhere else to go or no one else to look after them while their parents were off on assignments were usually sent there. Despite Mercy’s initial reluctance to attend, she soon met new friends and found herself tangled in an unexpected mystery. Read Mercy Markos and the Blades of Betrayal (Realm of Ara'Ja) by Sally Gratz Garcia and join her in a thrilling adventure.

Sally Gratz Garcia has created an engrossing storyline with an enjoyable and unique set of characters. The story opened with a betrayal that had me curious about the cause. The story reeled me in with its evenly-paced narration and the mysterious air surrounding the Tray Center. Mercy was witty, intelligent, and powerful, but she was understandably fearful and anxious as a twelve-year-old facing unexpected danger and problems. The characters’ growths in the book were interesting to follow, and the deeper I got into the story, the more hooked I was. Mercy and her friends’ troubles were not easy to overcome, but seeing what they would do in the face of problems that would leave most stumped was exciting. Garcia’s vivid descriptions and distinctive setting made the story come alive. In the end, Mercy Markos and the Blades of Betrayal left me with the impression that this was just the beginning and more adventures and excitement would come. I cannot wait for the next book. Excellent work.