Something’s Fishy | The Unraveling of Mercy Louis Book Review

Book: The Unraveling of Mercy Louis

Author: Keija Parssinen

Genre: YA, Mystery, coming-of-age

Published: March 2015


Once I picked up The Unraveling of Mercy Louis, I could not put it down.

I mean, it did take me about a month to finish it, because I had to squeeze it into my crazy school schedule.  But it is so dark and gripping, so gothic and full of emotions that I had to shove all the books I was reading aside, just to rip my way through it.

The premise is already amazing: it was inspired by the 💀Salem witch trials💀, but in a modern high-school setting.

There is so much going on in the novel, but all the clues and strands of development come together at the end.


The story evolves around the teenage girls living in Port Sabine, Texas. It is an oil refinery town, extremely superstitious and repressive🔮.

  1. The main girl, Mercy Louis, 🏀 lives with her grandmother “Maw Maw” Evelia. Evelia is a strict evangelical who is convinced that the world is going to end soon.
  2. The last day of school, the town discovers a dead baby abandoned at the dumpster. 
  3. Mercy’s mother Charmaine, who left right after Mercy was born, starts sending letters to Mercy.
  4. As summer unfolds, Mercy falls in love❤️ with a guy named Travis and gets her first taste of things forbidden by Maw Maw.
  5. As the police investigates, every high school girl in town is suspected of being the teenage mom that left the baby.💔
  6. When girls go back to school, a lot of them developed mysterious physical and verbal tics. One by one, they fell, and the town panicked.

The writing of this book is amazing🌟. The language is powerful, dark and urgent, loading up the suspense of the story even more.

The narrative🎈 switches between the perspetives of two characters, Mercy Louis and Illa. Mercy is the basketball star of Port Sabine, beautiful, strong and caring, but she is oppressed by her strict and super religious grandmother. Illa is in the same grade as Mercy, and is the manager of Mercy’s basketball team. What I love is that Illa is still trying to figure out her sexuality. She is spellbound by Mercy’s talent and charisma, and wonders if she likes guys or girls more.

The author really makes you root for the characters🌞. Even the minor characters have really clear motives, and the interactions are full of conflicts.


“Already, summer breathes through the hurricane shutters… wet and close… Maybe if I stay right here in my room in the stilt house, the final school bell won’t ring, dismissing us into the anarchy of summer.”

The themes are also worth regurgitating upon. Keija Parsinnen wrote the book when she was pregnant. Underneath all the gothic superstitions, maladies and mysteries, it is a story about mother and daughter💗, about female sexuality👩🏻 and about abortion rights👶.

It discusses how some people use religion as a weapon to suppress female desire.

“…if for some terrible reason I needed an abortion after twenty weeks I would not be able to get one.”     (Keija Parssinen)

All in all, it was just such a wildly satisfying read. I wouldn’t say the ending provided all the answers I wanted, but for a mystery novel, it wraps up a lot better than books such as Gone Girl. It is a brave, eloquent and unsettling book, and I think everyone should give it a read.

Daily prompt: fish


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