"'You have committed a vile and savage act, one that any other nation would punish with death. Our punishment, on the other hand, will only be to give you what you want. You have sought to live in a world without boundaries of civilization, and such a world shall henceforth be your dwelling place.'"
A cold-hearted murderer. A vicious abuser. A young man hiding a shameful secret. A bewildered immigrant. A pure-minded spy.
All of these men have found their appointed places at Mercy Life Prison, where it is easy to tell who your enemies are. But a new visitor to Mercy is about to challenge decades-old customs. Now these men's worst enemies may be hiding behind masks . . . and so may their closest allies.
A runner-up in the Rainbow Awards 2014, the book bundle "Mercy's Prisoner" can be read on its own or as the first volume in the Life Prison series. Friendship, desire between men, and the costs of corruption and integrity are examined in this multicultural speculative fiction series, which is inspired by prison life at the end of the nineteenth century.
"Life Prison." In the unmerciful world of Mercy Prison, there is no rule but unending pain. For Merrick, the arrival of his new guard provides hope that he may break beyond the boundaries of his life prison. But appearances can be deceptive, and Merrick does not yet recognize the danger this guard poses to his future.
"Men and Lads." Two guards. Two prisoners. A multitude of problems.
"Milord." He was the model prisoner, respectful to his guards and loyal to his fellow prisoners. What no one knew was that he held the key to destruction.
"Isolation." Being locked in a prison cell can cause a man to re-examine his priorities. Especially when the door never opens.
"Curious." His job is to guard the prisoners. But against what?
"Mercy's Prisoner: Epilogue."
"Mercy's Prisoner: Historical Note."
"Liveprison. Der Name sagt alles. Sehr düster." - Mllesatine: Empfehlungen.
His face came full into the light as he stepped forward. Wearing the uniform of a Compassion guard, he looked even more like his father: he had the same thin lips and the same straight eyebrows. But the eyes were empty of all coldness – indeed, of all expression of any sort – and there was no smile on his lips, cruel or otherwise.
"My name is Thomas," he said. "I'm your new guard."
I noted the use of his given name rather than his paternal name, and with the instinct of a veteran fighter I dropped and made my attack accordingly. "Ah, yes," I said. "The son of Compassion's Keeper. I can expect great deeds from you, I'm sure."
His lips grew even thinner, but that was all; it seemed that he was well used to this mode of attack. He said, as though I had not spoken, "My job is to provide service to you during your stay at this prison, and to make your stay as comfortable as is possible under your circumstances. If you have any needs, I hope you will let me know of them."
I stared at him open-mouthed for a moment, and then I gave a hoot of laughter that resounded through the entire level. The early-morning conversations across the fire-pit paused briefly, and Sedgewick, who was passing my cell, glanced in with narrowed eyes before continuing on.
"Let me – let me understand you correctly," I said, struggling to gain control of myself. "You'll give me any service I want?"
"Any service that is in accordance with the rules of your stay."
"But the only rule is that I should not be permitted escape, either through death or any other means. So you'll give me anything else?"
"If it's within reason, yes."
"Anything at all?"
"Tell me what you want, and I'll be able to give you a firm answer." His patience, I saw with delight, was wearing down.
"Fine," I said, leaning back and pulling off the blanket to reveal my body underneath. I had given up wearing clothes at bedtime several guards before. "I want you to come over here and service me on your knees."
About the Author
Honored in the Rainbow Awards, Dusk Peterson writes historical speculative fiction with diverse characters: historical fantasy, alternate history, and retrofuture science fiction. Friendship, romantic friendship, and romance often occur in the stories. Visit duskpeterson.com for e-books and free fiction. Dusk Peterson also runs Historicalfic: Historical Research for Fiction Writers (historicalfic.com). A resident of Maryland, Mx. Peterson lives with an apprentice and several thousand books.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Hmm. Different than my usual read, but before I get into that – I want to make one thing clear, Dusk Peterson is a helluva great writer. Now onto what I thought of this bundle of shorts that are all connected by the setting of Mercy’s prison. The events takeplace at the end of the 19th century. First off, while I’m all about historicals – especially M/M historicals because the tension and drama is always right there within a historical setting –this is an alternative history. One of the main differences for me in reading this book is that it is not romance. I do read gay fiction, but I tend toward romance because I usually get a HFN at the very least. Nope. Doesn’t happen, so you can forget all about that right now. But again, because I love historical M/M and do occasionally read gay fiction – I thought I’d give this a try. I’m very glad I did. Okay, yeah, no happy endings for me – or the characters. This all falls under more of a soul searching umbrella. Each story tells the tale of a prisoner who is condemned to live his days out at Mercy prison. The prisoners aren’t allowed to die (which means the inmates or guards can’t kill them) because that would be like skipping out on their punishment. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t be raped and beaten. Or that they’re having a good time or that they aren’t subjected to mind-numbing boredom or worked half to death (Remember – only half, not whole). There are attempts at romance, attempts to reconcile with fate, attempts to forge a life within a living death. Because this volume of stories is the first of more to come, there are plot lines that are introduced that don’t get resolved. Overall, you’re looking at a very dark, gritty, depressing tale – with a few touches of black humor – and things aren’t neatly wrapped up at the end. You might think that I’m trashing this collection - but I’m not. I merely want readers who don’t care for that type of book or have triggers that this may not be the read for them. What’s my opinion about these stories? They made me think. They really made me feel, and it wasn’t always a comfortable feel. Is that a bad thing? Not at all. It’s very important that tales like these be told so that we remain aware of the different shades of humanity and that there are those who suffer unjustly. I’m not sure if the word ‘love’ is the proper label for me to attach to my feelings regarding Mercy’s Prisoner, but I was wholeheartedly invested and lost in the horror of the world Dusk Peterson created. When writing successfully does that to me, then I have no choice but to give it 5 Stars. Reviewed by Michele for Crystal’s Many Reviewers *Copy Provided for Review*
ThreeStar Borrowing from the author's website, "Life Prison is a speculative fiction series about male desire and determination in nineteenth-century prisons." Each of these things is true. The world-building is exquisite. Anchored in Maryland is the Republic of Mip and its life prisons, forgotten places where the worst criminals go and pray to die. Dying, though, is outlawed, because it is an escape from punishment. This is an anthology of sorts. The first protagonist is Merrick, a child-murderer. That should set the tone. The murder is vivid and gruesome, as are the rapes and beatings Merrick endures in the life prison. It's unrelenting. This is not a light book, and it's not a redemptive book. If rape, murder, and torture are not for you, then this book is not for you. Dusk Peterson, despite this, has a huge following. The writing is fantastic. Each word shows talent and craft, research and imagination, passion and purpose. Mercy's Prisoner is a great read. It gets three stars from me because of its ultimately frustrating lack of resolution. Mysteries are hinted at, plots thicken, but there's no payoff. Dusk relies on murky atmosphere rather than resolution, and leaves the reader with no catharsis. If you step into Mercy Prison, there will be no escape. I was given this in return for an honest review by Inked Rainbow Reads. C.E. Case