Night Broken by Patricia Briggs

Just finished reading Night Broken, the 8th book in Patricia Brigg’s Mercedes series which I really enjoyed.  As with any series like this there can be peaks and troughs.  I didn’t particularly enjoy River Marked for example, for me, it felt like it went a little bit off track – or maybe it was simply because the majority of the story was based on Mercedes and Adam.  However, the last book Frost Burned turned me around again and this book feels like a really solid edition in the series.  In fact, taken as a whole I now like River Marked a lot more than I originally gave it credit for – Briggs is slowly turning this into something else.  It’s not just a series of books with a bunch of random adventures each time.  Everything is connected and the characters and world are adapted further and grow in intensity, likability and depth with each new edition.

At the start of the book life seems to be ticking along relatively smoothly for Mercedes until Adam’s ex wife, Christy, rings.  She’s running away from her boyfriend who appears to have become possessive and physically abusive and she’s called on Adam and his pack for protection. Of course Adam can’t really turn her away in her hour of need, apart from the fact that she’s the mother of his child he is, lets face it, a bit of a pushover for a damsel in distress.  So Christy moves right back in – literally picking up with the pack and the house as though she’d never been away.  I confess I didn’t like Christy very much and struggled in my mind to see what attraction she would ever have had for Adam.  Okay, she’s an attractive woman, soft and feminine and quite the opposite of Mercedes in virtually every way but she’s also a scheming and manipulative mare whose only experience of the truth seems to be in finding ways in which to bend it!  You could say that she’s very careful with the truth, if you were feeling generous you could say that!  If not then you might call her a few expletives which I won’t put here.  Unfortunately her lack of forthright honesty is about to put everyone in great danger as the ‘boyfriend’ she is running from is much more than at first suspected.

Now, just in case this all sounds very pedestrian and not quite the rough and tumble, anxiety packed fight for life that we’ve almost come to expect from Mercedes, yes, there is a little bit more of a ’slowed down’ feel to this book but in spite of that it’s one of my favourites so far.  This book spent more time integrating Mercy into the pack and establishing her relationship with others.  I like Mercy, she’s a strong character and through the series she’s definitely changed.  She started off as a loner, working hard and having very little time for anything or anyone else.  Gradually though she’s adapted.  She has Adam now and is part of his pack and family.  She can’t always just think about herself but has to stop and consider her actions in terms of the impact they’ll have on others.  On top of that she is in no way the toughest of the bunch but that doesn’t make her into a shrinking violet, she stands her ground even when she’s actually shaking inside with fear.  I like that Mercy is a flawed character, she’s not perfect and like the rest of us she has her own insecurities and petty jealousies to deal with.

Alongside the domestics, never fear, Briggs has spiced up the story.  This isn’t all about who has the longest eyelashes and can bat them the most effectively whilst baking the perfect batch of cookies – Briggs has injected her usual helping of ‘nasty’ and also come up with a whole new deity! Well, probably not new exactly but certainly one that I haven’t read about before.  He may be wrapped up in a human package but he’s the furthest thing from human and very difficult to eliminate – particularly as he seems to be accompanied by two fearsome, huge black canines who seem to have stepped straight out of hell.  We also have the appearance of the fey as one of the Grey Lords makes himself known to Mercy – with a none too subtle request for her to return to him one of the fey artefacts that came in useful in a number of previous stories – and you don’t want to disappoint this particular Grey Lord – his idea of anger can lead to tsunamis and mass destruction on an apocalyptic level!  Of course retrieving this is going to be far from easy, particularly as it’s now in the hands of Coyote and we all know how tricksy he can be.

There’s appearances from a few other favourites.  Stefan briefly makes a show and we learn more of the bond (and the feelings) he has for Mercy.  Tad shows up at a very opportune moment and we make the acquaintance of one of Coyote’s other children, appropriately named Gary Laughingdog.  Half brother to Mercy who was quite useful to have around in a fix with his prophetic visions of the future.  I think he will probably make return appearances in future stories and I quite look forward to that.

In terms of criticisms, yes, I had a few, but they were really minor.  Just niggles really – like, other than a strange plot device to provoke jealousy, how come Adam never answered his own phone!  It’s a mobile phone – which means it goes with you – and who the hell answered his phone before Christy returned to the marital home?? See, small time niggles, nothing to get excited about.

I really enjoyed this and probably the biggest problem was it came to an end all too suddenly, I wanted more and it’s going to feel like a long wait now.  This is without doubt a strong contender to be one of my favourite urban fantasies, Briggs has managed to come up with not just a main protagonist who you can’t help liking, but a whole cast of characters that you will become equally attached to.  She’s also a bit tricksy herself, there are a few twists and turns along the way, plotlines that you just have to run with because they will ultimately twist together into a unified thread not to mention a complete curveball towards the end which for a few moments made me sit bolt upright with my mouth gaping open very attractively!

River Marked by Patricia Briggs

Just finished reading River Marked by Patricia Briggs which brings to us the sixth in the Mercy Thompson series of books.

Before I start with this review it is possible that there will be spoilers.

River Marked has a different feel from the other books in the series, it’s not as fast paced, gritty or, frankly, urban.  I guess this isn’t too much of a surprise as we virtually start the story with Mercy and Adam finally getting married and going off on their honeymoon.  Of course, we know that everything isn’t going to be as rosy as that, this is Mercy after all, and sure enough a new and frankly rather horrible monster is lurking in the Columbia River, eating happy campers and attracting the attention of the FBI who believe a serial killer may be on the loose.

This is a strange book to review.  It was a quick read and, to be honest, I didn’t dislike it.  The pages turned swiftly and before I realised I’d read about two thirds – but, there wasn’t to be honest a great deal of plot to this story.  We were introduced to a new cast of characters as the old familiars took a back seat and we found out a little more about Mercy’s heritage.  But, this particular installment didn’t have the tension of past books.  I think we seriously miss the other characters who form such a big part of Mercy’s world.  I mean, I know they were on their honeymoon but it just felt too isolated.  The whole honeymoon in a trailer on a totally deserted campsite was also a bit of a stretch for the imagination.

So, I did like this book, it was interesting, but, it wasn’t what I was expecting and it made me think at times that Mercy has changed.  There’s still a lot of talk about things will never be dull with Mercy around, etc, etc, but she definitely feels as though she’s been tamed.  She’s never been unrealistic about her own capabilities but she seemed to spend a lot of time in this book stroking Adam’s ego or working out how to not rile his inner wolf or mediating for his daughter or worrying about somebody or other.  The thing is, there’s nothing wrong with this style of Mercy in itself or even this style of story it’s just that it wasn’t consistent with previous books and not what I’ve come to expect of Mercy.

Now, all that being said, and it does sound more criticial than I intended, this is still a good read and I will certainly have no hesitation in picking up the next – I just hope that in the next novel we don’t find Mercy wearing an apron and in search of the perfect meatloaf recipe to satisfy her man!  But the fact is, I’m invested in these characters now, I can take a bit of a break – almost a bit of an in-between, filler, book, because I do want to read more.  So, whilst this might not be my favourite of the series I’m still a big fan of Patricia Briggs and I love this world she has created.  I think Mercy is an amazingly strong character with a really well written supporting cast.  I would definitely recommend reading this series as they have just been so good to read.

Rating -B

River Marked

River Marked

Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs

Just finished reading Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs which is No.5 of the series.  Before we go any further – if you haven’t read the rest of the books STOP HERE! This will contain spoilers for the earlier books! (It might also contain spoilers for this book – you have been warned.)

Anyway, this book I felt took a change in direction, it was more pedestrian, if you want to put it that way or maybe, not quite as fast paced.  But, in a good way.  This series is really coming into it’s own.  In every book you learn a little more and this book was brilliant for that.  With Silver Borne we get a bit more insight into the whys and wherefores.  Now, don’t be thinking that means this was a boring ride.  None of this series could ever be accused of being boring and this installment is no different – it just didn’t feel quite as ‘life or death’ as some of the others which I think is a good thing – I needed to regroup.

Basically, with Silver Borne we get a little more insight into Mercy’s relationship with Adam and actually witness some of the vulnerability that both of them suffer.  We still have Mercy dealing with the trauma of previous events and we get to see Sam finally be overtaken by his inner wolf -now this isn’t a surprise because it’s been building in previous books but it’s like we finally see a bit more into what really goes on – like two personalities sharing the same body!   Plus, Mercy has to try and buy some time for him because if the rest of the weres find out, he’s toast!

On top of all this, back on to the scene, are the fey, in this installment looking for a precious object and wanting a bit of a chat with Mercy to try and locate it.  We are talking about a fairly high ranking fey here, not to be scoffed at (but I’m not going to give it away totally).  Long story short, there is werewolf drama provided by Sam and his recent turn of events and Mercy drama with people being kidnapped and in need of rescuing.  We get to see Zee in person – and he’s pretty cool if I do say so myself! And, we find something of interest for Sam (which he totally deserves).

So, this series is so good and so well planned.  I’m totally invested in the characters by now and lets face it – Mercedes is just brilliant (awesome if you will) and Patricia Briggs has built such a brilliant urban fantasy world.  It’s dark and gritty, fast paced, full of characters (no Stefan in this addition – boo), got an amazing lead character, bit of romance, danger, etc, etc, need I go on?

Anyway, give it a try, for me the first one is not my favourite so I think you have to bear with it but from there onwards it just goes from strength to strength.

Rating A

Silver Borne

Silver Borne

Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs

Just finished reading Bone Crossed, book No.4 in the Mercy Thompson urban fantasy stories.

I thought Iron Kissed was an excellent addition to the series and was really looking forward to reading Bone Crossed.  And I’m so glad I did.  It’s so good.  I don’t know where I’m going to go with my ratings after this because they’ve reached the top of the ceiling now!  So basically no disappointment here.  I guess there’s going to be a book somewhere along the line in this series that I won’t enjoy as much but so far I really enjoy reading about Mercy.

This story basically comes to life from the very start.  At the beginning Mercy is clearly still suffering from the events in book No.3 (no surprise) and I thought this was so realistic, no wand waving magic and a few cuddles and all’s okay – no we have panic attacks, feelings of inadequacy, flashbacks, nightmares, etc.  I thought it was all dealt with sensitively and realistically – so, if you just want Mercy to shrug it off you can expect to be disappointed.  That being said, Mercy has her usual adventures which she deals with in her usual style.

The Queen of the vampire seethe has unfortunately found out Mercy’s (and Stefan’s) little secrets and is deeply vexed!  Recriminations come thick and fast although not necessarily as you would at first suspect but the Queen has been around a long time and she knows how to play people like puppets on strings.  The secret being out, and in an attempt to shield her friends and pack from harm, Mercy takes a little trip to help out an old friend.  Again, this came very out of the blue for Mercy and seemed uncharacteristic for the friend in question, but, needs must when the devil vomits into your kettle, and so off Mercy set on her little trip to Spokane – with Stefan in toe.  Of course, as soon as Mercy lands in Spokane she immediately lands smack bang in the middle of trouble and attracts the attention of one who is known as ‘the Monster’ – even the Vampire Queen stays out of his sights.

Mercy and Stefan find themselves immediately turning tail and running for the hills – or Adam’s house.  Anyway, not to give anything more away we quickly have negotiations, strange ghosts, new fey – not to mention the return of the fey walking stick – which is actually becoming almost a favourite character of mine in the series – how is that possible??  This is an inanimate object but I feel strangely sentimental towards it. Get a grip woman!  We also learn more about Seethe politics and pack bonding and lets face it Stefan plays a large part in this book – and I’m finding I really like Stefan.  The Scooby thing and van alone is pretty cool but he’s cold, calm, collected, fierce and yet loyal and caring (if that is even possible for a vampire).

I really love the way that Patricia Briggs keeps finding new and interesting elements to add to her themes of paranormals, little things such as the Oakman.  Not to mention the strange what The Monster was actually up to.  We also see a little more of Mercy’s elements come to light in this book as she realises a little bit of her own potential in relation to ghosts.  And, I also liked the way that there wasn’t a great deal of recapping from the previous novel – there were lots of mentions but they didn’t go into great detail but are simply related with confidence – because clearly you will have read the other novels!  Which I have (so gloats happily).

The other thing I like about this series is it’s described as a romance but it’s not all about the romance.  Mercy spends a good deal of time on her own and she’s not some slim version of herself when she doesn’t have a man around – she gets on with it, quite often taking herself into very dangerous situations in order to protect people who she likes and are more vulnerable.  And, she’s a good character.  She works hard, has a sense of humour and quite often takes a severe beating but still keeps on going.

In terms of criticisms – I don’t really have any – I could have used a little bit of explanation about what had actually occured with Mercy and Adam with the letting down of the barriers scene!  Perplexed.  But I’m sure this will become clearer in due course.

Overall, definitely recommend.

Rating A+

Bone Crossed

Bone Crossed

Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs.

Just finished reading Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs and let me just say before anything else, wow. I loved this book. I’ve now finished the first three books that I bought at the same time and I’m cursing myself for not buying all six! Still, who knew that I was going to like this series so much? I can’t get enough of Mercy…

Iron Kissed brings us a new story centred around the Fey. Mercy owes the fey a favour and they call it in at the start of this book to see if Mercy’s coyote can bring anything new to bear in a series of increasing and grizzly murders that have been happening on the fey reservation.

I wonder if PB will continue her format of writing primarily about one particular supe per novel. Her first book was mainly focused on werewolves, the second centred around the vampires and this one brought to the fore the fey. I love reading about the fey and the information in this book is really imaginative. We find out more about the Grey Lords, and what a chilling bunch they are! I thought the scene on the beach was excellent.

We have the usual bunch of weres (although Stefan fans will miss his absence) and this book brings us a very satisfactory resolution to the love triangle that was going on between Mercy, Sam and Adam – and, no spoilers, but I thought this was definitely the right outcome!

Finally, this series just keeps getting better and better. I think Mercy is great, the plot is good, there’s plenty of action and some tender romance scenes (but definitely not the main focus of the novel) and the baddie – ugh! I will just mention that the last chapters may be a bit disturbing for some people to read, but I thought they were written so well that I couldn’t imagine them being omitted (not to mention the following scenes and emotions are so powerfully portrayed – simply brilliant, and revealing in terms of Ben). This series is dark and gritty but a definite must read! How much gushing can one person maintain? That’s it for me now. I have no idea how many times I’ve used the words brilliant or excellent but I’m sure it’s quite embarrassing so I’ll finish here by saying “read this series, I mean it, don’t make me come over there! And, read all three, the first is a bit heavy on information but it’s necessary for establishing Mercy’s world”.

Rating A+

Iron Kissed

Iron Kissed

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