For a person who has spent a good portion of her life staying under the radar Mercy Thompson has made a rather spectacular mess of the past few months. Not only has she come to the attention of the local seethe of vampires and their mistress - she has also come to the attention of the media thanks to her coercion and rape at the hands of Tim, and the dismemberment of his dead body by Adam. Mercy has been treading softly and trying to stay out of trouble, but trouble seems to find her no matter where she goes or what she does.
When Mercy discovers her garage has been covered in graffiti it doesn't seem too bad, until she discovers the crossed bones painted on her door that nothing will remove. Along with the shocking arrival of Stefan it makes it clear that Marsilia has discovered that Mercy killed Andre as well as the demon-ridden vampire. Mercy knew that acting against one of Marsilia's vampires was a foolish move, but she didn't think she had a choice - and now everyone she cares about is a target for Marsilia and her vampires. The only sane thing for Mercy to do is to leave town for a while, and an old college friend has a ghost problem that she needs Mercy to help with. It seems like the perfect opportunity - and Mercy is about to learn that when something seems perfect, then it really isn't. In Spokane Mercy with face a challenge unlike any she has met before, and the stakes will be unbelievably high.
Binge reading a series has it's benefits and it's drawbacks, and one of the biggest benefits is that you get to enjoy the action in the space of a few weeks rather than across years (which is the rate that you usually have to enjoy them if you are reading them as they are released). Reading the world of Mercy Thompson and Alpha and Omega in this way makes you appreciated just how well defined and well tuned the two worlds are, and the subtle differences that make the series their own distinct stories.
Mercy is an interesting and engaging character - she is flawed and very human, and while she gets to sit in the world of the preternatural and supernatural because she is a walker, she is also so much "less" than the other critters which makes it easy to walk in her shoes. She is stubborn, fiercely loyal, and has a very ingrained sense of honour. With this particular outing we learn more about vampires and vampire politics which opens up the world and the consequences and subtleties of living in the world.
One of the most amazing things about this particular urban fantasy series is that it is so firmly grounded in our world - it is "more" than our world, but it is still our world. Urban fantasy can be difficult to read if the author doesn't carefully balance that sense of being "here" with being something "more" and Briggs has mastered that knife edge with apparent ease. Too many authors try too hard or push the boundaries so much that it is difficult to remember that we share the same world as the characters, but here is it easy to imagine a VW mechanic who can turn into a coyote exists, and that one of her friends is a vampire who has an obsession with Scooby Doo.
This series won't appeal to everyone, and traditionalists might resent the mythology of this world and the treatment of werewolves, vampires, and fae but it is a guilty pleasure to read them (because not everyone reads urban fantasy) and it has been a decadent pleasure to read them in the recommended order in a short time. If you haven't tried urban fantasy before then take a bite (ahem) out of this series.
The recommended reading order is:
- Moon called
- Cry wolf (Alpha and Omega)
- Hunting ground (Alpha and Omega)
- Blood bound
- Iron kissed
- Bone crossed
- Silver borne
- River marked
- Fair game (Alpha and Omega)
- Frost burned
- Dead heat (Alpha and Omega)
- Night broken
And to fill in the gaps there are some new (and old) short stories in:
- Shifting shadows: Stories from the world of Mercy Thompson
If you like this book then try:
- Tinker by Wen Spencer
- Night shifted by Cassie Alexander
- Kitty and the midnight hour by Carrie Vaughn
- Dark descendant by Jenna Black
- Burning water by Mercedes Lackey
- Blood price by Tanya Huff
- Urban shaman by C.E. Murphy
- Spiders bite by Jennifer Estep
- Dead witch walking by Kim Harrison
- Precinct 13 by Tate Hallaway
Reviewed by Brilla