Book Review: The Cruelest Mercy by Natalie Mae

Rating: 5 Stars

Title: The Cruelest Mercy

Series: The Kinder Poison #2

Author: Natalie Mae

Genre: YA Fantasy

My Review - contains spoilers for Book 1.

The Cruelest Mercy is the follow-on sequel to The Kinder Poison, and I have to say that The Kinder Poison completely took me by surprise and I absolutely adored the story and the characters, and it immediately became one of my favourites. This meant I had a lot of expectations for book 2 and it did not disappoint.

Zahru was front and center and her hilariously relatable self and we had a very exciting plot to continue on from the ending of book 1. Kasta was back and entertaining and ever, I never knew where we stood with him and I was so conflicted on whether to believe him or not throughout the whole book which kept me on my toes and have me racing through dying to know where the story would go.

There was a lot of morally grey goodness in this book, Zahru certainly spiraled into morally grey decision making which I loved, and I found her justifications were very authentic and believable. Zahru actually handled her stress a lot better than I would have and I really enjoyed seeing how she took on her new responsibilities. The lure of her new power was intoxicating and whilst she started to embody the worst traits of kasta she still was herself – Kasta is a blind spot for her I think, and she’d do anything to not be betrayed again by him. The angst of this was perfection *chef’s kiss*.

Her banter with Kasta was excellent – my only complaint is that we didn’t get more of it – I would literally read a whole book of just them arguing hahaha. I also really appreciated that we got a lot more Han in this one as we get to see more of her crafty and wild self constantly doing crazy illegal things.

The setting of the palace was perfect and a great change for book 1, and I really enjoyed seeing all the palace dynamics. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and that we got to see Kasta in a less panicked and desperate state and that we get Zahru becoming a different version of herself as she’s clearly traumatised from being stabbed in the heart, understandably. I devoured the story and couldn’t tear my eyes away from watching Zahru give in to the intoxicating lure of power, as she became increasingly more paranoid of betrayal whilst she plotted revenge.

Overall an entertaining story full of morally grey decisions, paranoia, a complete shake-up of events for everyone in the palace, and a very unexpected ending. The writing style is one I love, it’s so easy to read and makes Zahru feel very relatable and like a normal person – you can’t help but love her. A great follow-on to book one and all the questions that The Kinder Poison left open were answered. The ending was very intense and did not end as I expected, I would love more time with Kasta and Zahru so I’m begging Natalie Mae for a third book - though the ending was mostly resolved I could easily see it lead on to another book. Ultimately, I love this series with all my heart so please read it and come chat with me about it!


After surviving the Crossing, Zahru has sworn off adventures. While crown prince Jet navigates the looming threat of war, she's content to simply figure out what the future holds for them. But they're dealt a devastating blow when prince Kasta returns with a shocking claim: he's the true winner of the Crossing and the rightful heir, and he bears the gods' mark as proof. Even more surprising--he's not the only one.

Somehow, Zahru possesses the very same mark, giving her equal right to the throne. The last thing she wants is to rule beside her would-be executioner, but she can't let Orkena fall into his merciless hands. So Zahru, Jet, and their allies must race against the clock to find a way to stop Kasta, because once he's crowned, there's no telling what horrors he'll unleash to win the war.

Zahru will do whatever it takes to keep Kasta from taking the throne...but to stop a villain, is she willing to become one herself?

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