The Sword of Mercy and Wrath is not a book/story that generally interests me - supernatural fantasy is not my cup of tea - and TSOMAW is filled with werewolves (something I tend to avoid). However, to support the author, NC Koussis, I entered/promoted a giveaway for the novel and, much to my surprise, ended up being a winner. Thus, I read it! Here are my thoughts:
Let's start out with what I didn't like. The book is short, and while I don't have a problem with shorter books, I do think this one suffers because of it for one main issue. The main protagonist, Selene, has (and I'm being very vague here as to avoid spoilers) very specific thoughts on something. Then, when we get to a specific event, immediately about-faces on how she thinks/feels (now this about-face WOULD make sense if we got more of her thoughts on the matter, but unfortunately, we don't, and so it feels very sudden). And then, when it feels like she's committed to this new line of thinking, she does another 180 and returns to her original thoughts/feelings on this particular matter. If Koussis had slowed down a tad here and given us a bit more of internal monologue/debate inside Selene's head, I think the payoff would've been better. Having said this, I know that the author, NC Koussis, is about to release a 2.0 expanded version of the novel, and I wonder if this will fix this. I also appreciated the romantic subplot, although the thirstiness of the two main characters was bit humorous.
On to the good things! Although I just criticized the shortness of the book, I think it's also a strength. Not every fantasy tale needs to be an extended epic, and this is proof of that. The story is short, concise, and, for the most part, tells you the things you need to know without a lot of extras (I think a few character introductions to some of the side characters could have been fleshed out a bit more, but ultimately they weren't important enough to require this).
Personally I think that Koussis excels when it comes to description, creating a vivid world filled with differing images (often writers struggle to vary their descriptors and Koussis doesn't fall into this trap). The story/plot was interesting enough, though I do wish we got a little bit more of Tristain's POV, as I was more interested in him. Another stand out character for me would probably be Soren, who had a lot of delightfully evil moments - probably my favorite parts of the novel involved Soren being a terrible person.
Overall, an interesting, though not my normal type of fantasy, read. I'll give it a 3.5/5, rounded up to a 4 for Amazon and Goodreads. Personally, I think if you enjoy werewolves you'll really enjoy this book, particularly if you get the revamped edition coming soon.