Review: Mestlven by Jesse Teller

Noooo don’t go down there, the floor is lava!

This has been on my review requests pile for an age, but I’ve put it off because… uh, well the Perilisc books, if you’re unfamiliar, are fairly dark. Like… seriously horrorish dark. And I was not in a good place for really-really-dark until… quarter past 2 days ago >.>;

So here we are!

I was given a free copy of this book, and in exchange, here is an honest review of it!

Revenge, Insanity, and the Bloody Diamonds

Meredith Mestlven was abused and betrayed by her nobleman husband. After a desperate fit of retaliation, she fled for her life and lost her sanity. Now nearly 20 years later, she returns to her home at Sorrow Watch to destroy her enemies and reclaim her jewels. How far will she go to satisfy her revenge? Dark, cunning and beautiful, Mestlven will win your heart or devour your mind.

“You are insane, dear. You will burn the world down around you and strangle to death everything that loves you.”

There’s a scene right at the beginning of this one, that despite the darkness I knew I was about to get all up in, made me smile. There’s a festival to the goddess of death in Mestlven, and part of that is The Grim, who is the avatar of The Pale (the aforementioned death goddess) riding into town. On a giant white horse. This event is told from the POV of a character named Mort, as well. Of course, it then goes on to visit the avatars of all the horrible disease gods who are also here for the party who are missing skin or otherwise gross in some way. Because of course it did. But, I enjoy a nod to Discworld all the same. 😀 Was it on purpose? Who cares!~

This story appears to be a sequel to the events in Chaste, which makes me glad I read that one first. This story follows Sob, who is really Meredith Mestlven, the former wife of the former Lord of the town of Mestlven, until some insane shit went down and subsequently turned her into… well, what she is now. Mostly insane, and totes down with killing literally everyone.

This book is dark. And I mean that as like… darker than most books I would call dark. All kinds of shit happens or is implied as having happened in this book that is just… horrible. Rape, murder, using a paralytic poison on a toddler whilst kidnapping them, more murder, bit more rape, stabbing, stabbbbbbiiing, poisoning a dude and then fucking him to death, torture, plague fucking…. AND MORE! I was expecting these sorts of things (okay, maybe not all of those things, because goddamn), because just… if the books I have read are any indications… nothing good ever happens in Perilisc. It’s like Westeros on fucking crack. I mean… there’s a lot of actually consensual fucking in this one too… but either way, FYI probably don’t really read this if you aren’t prepared for grim with some fucking grim mixins, with grim sprinkles on top in a grim waffle cone. This book is about an abused woman gone batshit insane who goes on a fucking crazy rampage on everything and everyone that she perceives has ever wronged her in any way. So… I mean… yeah. Stabbity fucking stab and what have you.

That all said though, this is a really well written book. The prose is quite lovely and while it is often used to describe horrific things, it makes them seem… more captivating to read about than you’d think sometimes, and just that alone made it often hard to put down. This story switches POVs every now and then to other characters, and it’s a really good way of seeing the story, and especially seeing Sob from more than one perspective. This is a story is, as I said, more or less about a woman driven insane, who is having flashbacks to the trauma that drove her thus while doing her best to get her revenge on everyone involved in any way. Sob is mad AF but doesn’t always seem it. It’s very subtle sometimes, but oh my, it’s there.

The pacing was nice, it wasn’t really ever boring. I did like some of the other characters, like the mage, Saykobar, and like Sai, who was, like Sob, a recurring character. I especially liked Emily and Donnie. They and their entire subplot were unexpected but very enjoyed. I still think that much like its predecessor, some over-the-top stuff was added in for the sheer shock value at times, but all told it was a really good read all the same, with a really satisfying conclusion. I had a hard time getting into it right out of the gate because even right at first it’s a bit shocking, but once you really get to the meat of the thing, it’s a pretty damn good story.

Binky 4eva!

I was surprised by this one, because I was expecting it to be like Chaste (being in the same world with recurring characters), which I thought was alright, but didn’t love. While that one was more -these tragic events are happening!- I felt like Meslven was more -this is the aftermath of tragic events with MORE tragic events as a result- and I think I liked the story from that angle a bit more. I give it 4/5 stars!


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