books

Patricia Briggs

Books

Masques (1993/2010) , Wolfsbane (2010)

Dragon Bones (2002), Dragon Blood (2002)

Raven's Shadow (2004), Raven's Strike (2005)

Mercy Thompson: Moon Called (2006), Blood Bound (2007), Iron Kissed (2008), Bone Crossed (2009), Silver Bourne (2010), River Marked (2011), Frost Burned (2013), Night Broken (2014), Shifting Shadows: Stories from the World of Mercy Thompson (2014), Fire Touched (2016)

Alpha and Omega: On the Prowl (2007), Cry Wolf (2008), Hunting Ground (2009), Fair Game (2012), Dead Heat (2015)

Anthologies: Wolfsbane and Mistletoe (2008), Strange Brew (2009), The Best Paranormal Crime Stories Ever Told (2010), Naked City (2011), Down These Strange Streets (2011), Home Improvement: Undead Edition (2011), Happily Ever After (2011), Weird Detectives: Recent Investigations (2013), Magic City: Recent Spells (2014), A Fantastic Holiday Season: The Gift of Stories (2014)

 

 

Mercy Thompson

The Mercy Thompson Timeline (from Patricia Briggs website)

Long Ago
Silver (novella)

-10 Years
HomeComing (graphic novel)

Any Time
Gray (short story)

-1 Year
Seeing Eye (short story)

Year 1
Moon Called (book)
Alpha and Omega (novella)
Cry Wolf (book)
Hunting Ground (book)
Star of David (short story)

Year 2
Blood Bound (book)
Iron Kissed (book)
Bone Crossed (book)
Roses in Winter (short story)
Silver Borne (book)

Year 3
In Red with Pearls (short story)
River Marked (book)
Fair Game (book)
Frost Burned (book)
Unappreciated Gifts (short story)

Year 4
Redemption (short story)
Dead Heat (book)
Hopcross Jilly (graphic novel)
Night Broken (book)
Hollow (short story)
Fairy Gifts (short story)
Fire Touched (book)

Moon Called (2006)

I have to say, Moon Called was a lot of fun to read. I had no expectations of the book at all (I bought it because I liked other books by Patricia Briggs), so everywhere the story went was a surprise. And a pleasant surprise at that. Also, this book was as much a mystery as it was a fantasy, and a pretty well-done mystery at that.

Mercy Thompson is a mechanic and a shifter. Being a shifter is similar to being a werewolf, in that she can change into an animal form--her other form is a coyote--but in other ways it's completely different. Her changes are not affected or regulated by the moon, and her shifting is easy and painless. Mercy also lives next door to the alpha werewolf for her area, so she is surprised when a young werewolf shows up at her garage looking for work, because as far as she knows, he's not part of the local pack.

The writing was very good: the pacing was excellent (this was another couldn't- put- it- down- to- go- to- sleep book), the dialog was sharp and amusing, and I really liked the story. Several times it went places I hadn't expected, which I especially liked. Plus, actions taken earlier in the book left me wondering whether any character was safe from being killed off. Which I also really like, because as much as I hate having characters I like killed off, I also find it ridiculous when everyone comes through a horribly dangerous situation completely unscathed. (Though I have to admit this is far more noticeable in movies than in books.)

I could have done without the cover though--at least the half-shirt / perfect breasts portion of the cover. I mean come ON. The woman is a mechanic. She doesn't need grease embedded in her entire torso, including her ridiculous breasts and I'm pretty sure any woman smart enough to be a mechanic would also be smart enough to wear a bra to work. Not to mention the fact that wearing your hair loose combined with moving engine parts just can NOT be a good idea. So boo-hiss for the cover.

Luckily, the book more than overcame the foolish cover.

This book also had my all-time favorite characteristics--the story arc was completed within the book. Although there are plenty of openings for another book in this series, my hope is that when(!) Patricia Briggs writes more books with Mercy Thompson, she'll continue to write in this vein: completing the story arc in a single book, and no cliffhanger endings. Plus, as an added bonus, very strong female lead character.

And I really hope she writes more books about Mercy Thompson. The writing and dialog were excellent, but most of all it was just a fun book to read, and I want more like it. If you're looking for a fun book to read, I highly recommend Moon Called.
Rating: 8/10

Published by Ace

Re-Read: September 2014

I started listening to the Audible version of Moon Called, and I don’t know if it was the narrator, the fact that I’ve been so blown away by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith who reads Ben Aaronovitch’s Peter Grant series, or a combination of both, but I just couldn’t listen to it.

So, I re-read, instead.

Mercy Thompson is a walker–her father was a Blackfeet Indian, so she assumes she inherited it from him. But he died before she was born, so her mother sent her to Bran Cornick, the Marrock, to be fostered among the werewolves.

I have a degree in history, which is one of the reasons I’m an auto mechanic.

She bought her VW shop from Zee, a fae metalsmith, and lives next door to Adam, the Alpha of the local werewolf clan. So her life is a little more complicated than most.

She is surprised when a young werewolf–obviously homeless–shows up at her shop asking for a job. He doesn’t seem to be part of the local pack, which is even more unusual. So being who she is, she does what she can for him.

One of the things I love best about Mercy is that aside from her shifting (and a few other, smaller, things that are discovered over the course of the series) she doesn’t have many powers. She doesn’t have magical strength, beyond what she developed herself. She doesn’t have magical healing, so if she gets hurt, she is truly hurt, and recovers no faster than another human (albeit one in very good shape).

Despite all that, she will not bow to anyone, and refuses to allow Adam (or any of the wolves) to dominate her. And she is very protective of the vulnerable and those she loves, often to the point of getting herself into deep trouble.

The veil of civilization fell away from me rather easily , I thought, taking the empty cup and twisting it back on the thermos. All it had taken was the sight of that bruise, and I was ready to do murder.

Be aware, bad things happen in these books. People are hurt, and people die. Which is, perversely, another reason why I like this series. Because life is like that.

I really love this series, and I’m enjoying re-reading it.
Rating: 8.5/10

Re-Read: May 2016

And now comes the re-reading of the Mercy Thompson series.

Here’s the back-cover blurb:

Mercy Thompson’s life is not exactly normal. Her next-door neighbor is a werewolf. Her former boss is a gremlin. And she’s fixing a VW bus for a vampire. But then, Mercy isn’t exactly normal herself.

I love Mercy. Her super power is turning into a 35 pound coyote, but that doesn’t stop her from doing what is right.

I could have bitten off my tongue because I pushed him into a lie. Once he started lying to me, it would be harder to get him to trust me with the truth. I don’t know why it works that way, but it does— at least in my experience.

And she is always thinking, even when it seems like she’s just being difficult.

My cell phone rang again— it was Bran. That werewolf was uncanny. “Mercedes, let me speak to my son.”

I looked at Samuel, and said, “He’s not here. I told you earlier that I haven’t heard from him since last night.”

“Enough games,” Bran told me. “Give the phone to Samuel.”

Raising my eyebrows at David Christiansen and his men, I handed the phone over and listened to Samuel explain matters. Bran had probably heard the lie in my voice when I told him Samuel wasn’t here. Probably. But David, who had heard both sides of the conversation, was going to be forever convinced that the Marrok knew that Samuel was sitting beside me.

I hid my satisfaction. The more powerful the wolves believed Bran, the safer he was.

I do love this series.
Rating: 8.5/10

Re-Read: December 2016

I learned my lesson years ago, although sometimes I’d forget, this time I remembered: after reading Guy Gavriel Kay, I must read something absolutely different.

If I read any kind of historical fantasy after Guy Gavriel Kay, I am always sorely disappointed.

Since I was still in the mood for fantasy I decided that Patricia Briggs would fit the bill.

Very good but in a way utterly unlike Kay.

Once I started the re-read, I realized that I’d re-read these fairly recently, but decided I didn’t care.

Mercy Thompson is an auto mechanic, and a walker–a Native American shifter, but unlike weres, she can take one form only: that of a coyote. And she doesn’t have super strength or (more importantly) magical healing.

One of the things I like best about Mercy is that her past, although unconventional, has not hurt or harmed her, except in the ways events in our history shape us because we cannot control the acts of others.

I like my mother and stepfather. I even like all of my half siblings, who had greeted my sudden appearance in their lives with enthusiasm. They all live together in one of those close-knit families that television likes to pretend is normal. I’m very happy to know people like that exist— I just don’t belong there.

She’s level-headed and sure of herself while remaining aware of her limitations.

I’m in good shape, and I have a purple belt from the dojo just over the railroad track from my garage, but I’m no match for a werewolf.

This is world similar to ours, except that the Fae have outed themselves (before science and technology outed them).

And so the lesser fae, the weak and attractive, revealed themselves at the command of the Gray Lords. The great and terrible, the powerful or powerfully ugly, stayed hidden, awaiting the reaction of the world to the more palatable among them. Here, said the Gray Lord’s spin doctors who had been McBride’s lawyers, here are a hidden people: the gentle brownie who taught kindergarten because she loved children; the young man, a selkie, who risked his life to save the victims of a boating accident.

It’s a good story, and I enjoy re-immersing myself in the world of Mercy Thompson.
Rating: 8.5/10

Moon Called: Audible Version (2006/2009) read by Lorelei King

After finishing Moon Over Soho, I needed something new to listen to, and since I seemed to be in the mood for supernatural fantasy, I decided to start Patricia Brigg’s Moon Called, especially since I was reading and enjoying her collection of short stories set in Mercy’s world.

I got maybe a quarter or a third of the way in and then gave up.

The narrator just was not working for me at all. She didn’t sound at all like Mercy should, and I really didn’t like the way any of the male characters sounded.

So I just gave up.

The story is still great, but this narration was not working for me at all.

Published by Audible

Moon Called Audible Version (2006/2009) narrated by Lorelei King

The first time I tried to listen to this was immediately after finishing a Rivers of London audio book.

There was just no way anyone can compare to Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, so I just couldn’t get into it.

So, I started it again after when Mercy Blade kept crashing the audible app on my phone (I never discovered what happened, but I had to finish listening at home–and not from my phone) and found that I enjoyed it when I wasn’t comparing it to Kobna Holdbrook-Smith.

This is the first book in the Mercy Thompson series, which is a favorite of mine. I adore Mercy Thompson, and love that she isn’t strong the way most supernatural creatures are, but has worked and trained to take advantage of the strengths she has.

I won’t say she is my favorite narrator, but I won’t mind listening if she narrates other books in the series.
Rating: 7/10

Published by Penguin Audio

Blood Bound (2007)

Blood Bound is the sequel to Moon Called, and continues the story of Mercy Thompson, a mechanic and a walker. A walker is similar to--but not the same as--a werewolf. What she has is an inborn power to change form at will, and that shifting isn't tied to the moon. She also owes a favor to one of the local vampires--a favor he has come to collect.

There are several things about this book that I particularly like. I like the hierarchy of both the local werewolf pack and the vampire seethe, and they way they react to Mercy and each other. It makes sense that for the vampires to have survived for as long as they have, they would need to have some sort of hierarchy of control.

I'm also fascinated by how Patricia Briggs (and several other authors who write supernatural fantasy) have chosen to have at least some of their supernatural creatures come out of the closet (so to speak) to the general public about their very exisence

Another thing I particularly like is how Mercy works to make ends meet. Yes, her money problems do get solved, but that's part of the fantasy, isn't it?

However, I was a little bothered by the start of an "everyone wants Mercy" thing that was going on underneath the story. It looks like this was for the most part headed off at the pass, with Mercy needing to make a decision between just two guys, which I can accept. But I really don't care much for it when all the males find the heroine irresistible. Yes, that too is a fantasy. It's just not my favorite brand of fantasy is all. But as I said, Mercy seems to have limited her number of eligible suitors, which good.

Additionally, she had to make hard choices--and she got hurt making the choices she made (got hurt, and stayed injured for an appropriate amount of time even). I prefer it when the characters have to make hard choices, and when there are consequences for those choices.

I still dislike the cover though. Not the tatoos and the grease--that's good. I just hate the fact she has to have her coveralls undone to her belt. Why? Why would she do that? There is no good reason for her--or anyone--to dress like that. And I really don't think that she'd be wearing a frilly bra on the off chance she was foolish enough to undo her coveralls like that. I mean really--she's an otherwise sensible woman, so it just seems out of place. And I realize that the author has no control over the covers, but it really bugs me. I mean, when the book came, my grandmother asked what book I'd gotten (on the off chance it was a mystery). I held up the book, and said, "It's a fantasy book, I don't think you'll want to read it." She looked at the cover and said, "You're right."

If you read Moon Called, then you will want to pick up Blood Bound. If you haven't read Moon Called, you should be able to pick up Blood Bound without any difficulty, but you'll probably enjoy it more if you read the books in order. Otherwise, it was a strong, fast-paced story that I had trouble putting down last night so I could go to bed.
Rating: 7/10

Published by Ace

Re-Read: September 2014

This is a second book in the Mercy Thompson series, and finds Mercy inadvertently caught up in vampire business.

There are so many little tidbits that I enjoy, dropped randomly throughout the books.

The Marrok, the leader of the North American werewolves, insists that all of the wolves wear a collar when they run in the cities, with tags that identify them as someone’s pet. He also insists the names on the tags be something innocuous like Fred or Spot, no Killers or Fangs.

I watch TV . I’ve seen the way the police track serial killers— at least in detective shows. … If I ever become a serial murderer, I’ll be very careful to kill people in a pattern that centers around a police station— and not my home or work.

Again, these stories are on the darker side, not with horror, but with the reality that fighting a supernatural creature is bound to cause a lot of damage.

It’s strange how much of these stories I don’t remember. Either I’ve forgotten parts, or I sped so quickly through I missed bits. But that’s fine, because it means I discover new things up reading again.
Rating: 8/10

Re-Read: May 2016

This is the second Mercy Thompson book, and finds Mercy paying back her debt to Stephan that was incurred in the first book.

Why couldn’t the people I cared about just need someone to fix their cars? I could do that.

I especially like the end of this story, where Mercy does something very very stupid, but also very right.
Rating: 8/10

Re-Read: December 2016

The second Mercy Thompson books finds Mercy helping the vampires–specifically Stefan, who is a friend of sorts.

The Mistress of the City knows what Mercy is, but believes Stefan that Mercy is no threat to the local seethe, and so accepts Mercy’s place in the city (although Mercy still has to pay protection to the vampires).

There is a good deal of good versus evil in this story, since there is a demon at the heart of the problems.

Science doesn’t allow for magic any more than it allows for evil.

“I haven’t seen a sorcerer for centuries. Most people today don’t have the belief in evil and the knowledge necessary to make a pact with a demon.”

I do like how Mercy (much like Jane Yellowrock) has a strong faith that is integrated into the core of her being.

I also appreciate (even if I don’t like it per se) that there are fae hate groups, and that the preternatural communities recognize that they have to spin their existence to save themselves from genocide.

I like the amount of thought that went into the reactions of the world to the supernatural.

And how the supernatural would survive in a human world.

Werewolves aren’t immortal, just immune to age. But time is their enemy anyway. After just so long, one wolf told me, nothing matters anymore and death looks better than living another day.

And I also like the amount of thought that went into the supernatural communities themselves, and how they would work–and how individuals would react within those communities.

But Warren, hurt and confused, his human half submerged under the wolf, had forgotten that he was supposed to submit to Darryl’s authority. It should have been an instinctive thing. That Warren wasn’t listening to Darryl meant one thing— Darryl wasn’t really more dominant, Warren had been faking it all along.

One of the fascinating things that comes of rereading this series is seeing the set-up for things that happen in later books (or in the companion books and stories).

I do love this series.
Rating: 8/10

Iron Kissed (2008)

I really like Patricia Brigg’s Mercy Thompson series, so I’ve had Iron Kissed on pre-order since I found out it was available. I had to finish the book I was currently reading before I started this, but yesterday afternoon I picked it up and didn’t want to put it back down. Which is why I didn’t start reading today until I had a chunk of time in which I wouldn’t be interrupted. Because I did not want to put this story down once it got started.

As much as I really like the Mercy Thompson series, this may be my favorite book yet. First off, the last portion of the book had me running to my room to finish reading because it made me all sniffly and teary. So yeah, I’ve got extra hormones in my system right now, but still, the story was so well written, and I’ve come to care about what happens to Mercy so much that I was…concerned.

To clear her debt to Uncle Mike, Zee asks Mercy to come out to the Reservation to use her nose to investigate some crime scenes. As a result, Mercy ends up in terrible trouble trying to get her friends out of trouble–all the while realizing that she has to make a decision between Adam and Samuel, because not making that decision is creating even more trouble not just for herself but for Adam’s pack as well.

First things first, I loved the cover of this book. Despite the excess of skin Mercy is showing, the cover does an excellent job of depicting Mercy as she is described in the book. Her face as drawn matches how she was described in he book, as is her hair, and her attitude. Of course I think it’s a little silly to display that much skin while working on a car, but I suppose they have to do something to make the cover sexy.

Second, the story is very well done. Everything hangs together and makes sense, the pacing is excellent, and I didn’t want to put the book down until everything was concluded. Parts of the story were very hard to read, as some very bad things happen to Mercy, but these things not only help to resolve some of her issues, but they reinforce what Mercy is and how she fits into the local hierarchy. She’s small, weaker than everyone with whom she resorts, and had to resort to wits and cunning over strength–in essence, she is coyote (only without so much of the trickster traits.)

I also liked that although she had to rely upon others when brute strength was necessary, she was able to take care of herself for the most part–yes she gets herself into situations from which she cannot extricate herself, but it is not stupidity (in most cases) that gets her into those situations, and they are not situations from which anyone could survive alone. So it is right for her to lean on others–it doesn’t make her a damsel in distress.

I particularly like how Mercy deals with the trauma in the last several chapters, and I think that Patricia Briggs did a good job dealing with the issue at hand, making the situation and Mercy’s reaction to it quite realistic. Even if it did make me all hormonally weepy.

If you have ready any of the previous Mercy Thompson books, the you do not want to miss Iron Kissed. If you have not read a Mercy Thompson book before, and you enjoy supernatural fantasy, then run out and get Moon Called and Blood Bound because reading them first will make Iron Kissed all the better. Yes, you could read this without having read the other two, but you’ll enjoy it more if you know the history.
Rating: 9/10

Published by Ace

Re-Read: September 2014

I had forgotten just how dark this story was. Bad things happen to Mercy.

Very bad things.

And Mercy just doesn’t brush these things off, which means seeing Mercy suffer as she tries to recover.

It’s very hard to read.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s very well done, and it’s realistic. But it’s hard.

Zee needs help from Mercy, unfortunately, he pulls her into something bigger than he (or Mercy or Uncle Mike) expected.

Additionally, Mercy knows she has to choose between Samuel and Adam. Not that it’s really any surprise who she chooses. Samuel isn’t bad (he’s flawed, but that’s perfectly normal) but it’s been obvious from the beginning he isn’t good for Mercy.

Not that there aren’t fun parts.

“Shoot,” he said, the word obviously not giving him the satisfaction to be gotten out of cruder terms.

“Cheeses crusty, got all musty, got damp on the stone of a peach,” I agreed. He looked blank, so I repeated it with proper emphasis. “ChEEZ-zes crusty. Got Al-musty. Got DAMp on the StoneofapeaCH. My foster father used to say those around me all the time. He was an old-fashioned sort of wolf, too. He especially liked the Stoneofapeach. ‘Stoneofapeach, Mercedes. You don’t have the sense God gave little apples.’”

But be warned, there is a lot of darkness herein.

Re-Read: May 2016

This is probably the hardest Mercy story to read, but I read it, and cried like I always do.

Samuel had learned to write before typewriters and computers rendered penmanship an art practiced by elementary school children. His notes always looked like formal wedding invitations.

“Shoot,” he said, the word obviously not giving him the satisfaction to be gotten out of cruder terms.

“Cheeses crusty, got all musty, got damp on the stone of a peach,” I agreed. He looked blank, so I repeated it with proper emphasis. “ChEEZ-zes crusty. Got Al-musty. Got DAMp on the StoneofapeaCH. My foster father used to say those around me all the time. He was an old-fashioned sort of wolf, too. He especially liked the Stoneofapeach. ‘Stoneofapeach, Mercedes. You don’t have the sense God gave little apples.’”

“Sandra is turning forty today. I think she needs a birthday dirge, whatd’ you all think?”

The crowd erupted into applause that quickly settled into anticipatory silence.

“Hap-py birthday.” He sang the minor notes of the opening of the “Volga Boatmen” in a gloriously deep bass that needed no mike to carry over the crowd, then hit the bodhran once with a small double-headed mallet. THUMP.

“It’s your birthday.” THUMP.

“Gloom and doom and dark despair,

“People dying everywhere.

“Happy birthday.” THUMP.

“It’s your birthday.”

The time for keeping their secrets strictly to myself was over.

If there was one thing I’d learned over the past few interesting (in the sense of the old Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times”) months, it was that when things started to get dangerous, it was important to have people who knew as much as you did. That way, when I stupidly got myself killed— someone would have a starting place to look for my murderer.

This story is not for everyone. Terrible things happen to Mercy, and they are hard to read, as is the time following the terrible things. (That part is probably harder to read, to be honest.)
Rating: 8/10

Re-Read: December 2016

I still have great difficulty reading this book, and flat-out skip most of a chapter because it is so hard for me to read.

Just so you know.

Mercy is called by Zee to look into a death at the Fae Reservation; this will allow her to repay her debt to the Fae for using tools loaned her beyond the conditions of the loan. (See the previous book, and the vampire-killing toolkit.)

As with the previous book, we meet people who will have greater import in later books, and I particularly like these first impressions.

(T)here was a young girl of about eight or nine playing with a yo-yo in one of the yards. She watched the spinning, swinging toy with solemn attention that didn’t change when Zee parked the car in front of her house. When Zee opened the gate, she caught the yo-yo in one hand and looked at us with adult eyes.

“No one has entered,” she said.

Zee nodded. “This is the latest murder scene,” he told me. “We found it this morning. There are six others. The rest have had a lot of people in and out, but except for this one”— he indicated the girl with a tip of his head—“ who is a Council member, and Uncle Mike, there have been no other trespassers since his death.”

I looked at the child who was one of the Council and she gave me a smile and popped her bubblegum.

Yo-yo girl indeed.

One of the other things I like about Mercy is that she is, in some ways, similar to me.

I tried to imagine working a job where your convictions were an inconvenience that you learned to ignore— and decided I’d rather turn a wrench no matter how much better her paycheck was than mine.

I would be utterly incapable of working such a job, and it’s nice to know I’m not alone in that.

Me, I believe in revenge— but I also believe in redemption.

Redemption is important.

Please recognize that portions of this story are very difficult to read. As I said, I completely skipped the Bad Thing and the lead up to The Bad Thing, but I did re-read the aftermath, but so many important things happen there.

And I’m still irked by very end of this story, even if she does take it back at the start of the next book.
Rating: 8.5/10

Bone Crossed (2009)

Mercy is still struggling after the events of Iron Kissed, the previous book. Excluding the stitches, she is better physically, however, mentally and emotionally, she has a long way to go. Into this whirls a friend from college, Amber, who wants Mercy to come investigate the ghost who is haunting her house. Since the vampire queen, Marsilla, has issued a death threat against Mercy, getting her out of town seems like a good idea to everyone involved, including Stefan, her friend the vampire who is in trouble himself.

First and foremost, much of this book is Mercy’s dealing with the emotional wreckage of the events from the previous book. And that is one of the greatest strengths of the book. There is no magic fix for Mercy; yes, she is now in a relationship with Adam, but that relationship does not solve her emotional crisis–as much as she wants it too. I can’t express how pleased I am to see a character actually dealing with trauma in a realistic way. Yes, it’s hard to see Mercy struggling and in pain. But it is this that makes the story and her character so real.

The other thing I like is that although Mercy and Adam have troubles, and although Mercy is (especially during her panic attacks) slightly irrational, they deal with their troubles like grown-ups. In other words, their relationship is a strength, not a weakness, and although it is part of the book, it isn’t the heart of the story.

As far as the story goes, it was (as expected from this series) very good. Mercy is continuing to learn to lean on others, and although it’s a slow process, she is getting better at it.

One last thing–I love the covers of these books. Yeah, I think she’s showing a silly amount of flesh for being at work. However, the cover figure is curvaceous and REAL looking–not a ridiculous stick figure. Huzzah to Ace for these covers!

If you have not read the Mercy Thompson series, I highly recommend you start at the beginning and read your way to here.

One last night–I stayed up until 2AM to finish the book–that’s something I try very hard to avoid, so you know the story had really drawn me in when I lose sleep for it.
Rating: 8.5/10

Published by Ace.

Re-Read: September 2014

This book makes up for very end of the last book, where only a week after her rape, it seems like Mercy is ready to jump into bed with Adam.

She isn’t and she doesn’t, and Adam wouldn’t. So points all around for Adam.

And it’s good that things are okay with Samuel.

you can’t marry someone to fix him, even if you love them.

Marsilla has discovered that Mercy killed not one, but two of her vampires, which means that Mercy is now on her hit list, which could mean war between the local Seethe and the local Pack, since Mercy is part of Adam’s pack.

She learns this because Stefan lands almost dead in Mercy’s living room.

There is a lot to like about this story. I thought that the work of Mercy’s recovery was particularly well done, although, like the events in the previous book, it’s at times difficult to read.

But I’m not quite sure about the part of the story that gets Mercy out of the tri-cities. The parts with Marsilla make sense to me, but the parts further north? Not so much.

But it’s still well worth reading.

The old coal chute with a box of old blankets placed near the end. I stuck my head in the metal tunnel and sniffed, but only to confirm my suspicions : Chad had been sliding down the coal chute for fun. His eyes peered worriedly out from under his too-long hair. It didn’t look dangerous to me— it looked fun. More fun if no one else knew…

Mercy is very good with Chad. I liked that very much.

Re-Read: May 2016

The 4th Mercy Thompson book follows immediately after the events in book three–actually it replays and finishes the scene that the third book closes, and I appreciate the way this scene plays out.

Mercy had really awful things happen to her in the previous book, and it seemed like she’d just shaken those events off. This book makes it clear that Mercy still has a great deal of healing to do, which is a GOOD thing, because it’s realistic and true and healthy.

The Mercy who is able to say this, “you can’t marry someone to fix him, even if you love them” is not a person who could just have moved on from the events in the previous book as if they never happened.

I’ll note that this makes parts of the Mercy story difficult to read, but it also makes it true and healthy.

But never fear–Mercy is still herself, even if she’s a little more fragile right now.

I was upside-down in the driver’s seat, with my head up the Jetta’s dash, when a sudden thought came to me. I rolled over and looked at the shiny new CD player in the ancient car, which had held only a cassette player when it had last visited here.

When Zee came in, I was using Power Words to describe service techs who didn’t know how to tie their own shoes but felt free and easy meddling in one of my cars.

There is also a very nice scene between Bran and Mercy, that has Mercy continuing to reevaluate her past (and current) relationship with Bran.

Samuel laughed out loud. “You still haven’t figured it out, have you, Mercy? He never was mad about the car. He was the first one at the scene of the accident. He thought you’d killed yourself. We all did. That was a pretty spectacular wreck.”

I started to say something and found I couldn’t. The first thing I’d seen after hitting the tree was the Marrok’s snarling face. I’d never seen him that angry— and I’d done a lot, from time to time, to inspire his rage.

Samuel patted me on the back. “It’s not often I see you absolutely speechless.”

“So you had Charles teach me how to fix cars and how to drive them.” Charles was Bran’s oldest son. He hated to drive, and until that summer I’d thought he couldn’t drive. I should have known better— Charles can do anything. And everything he did, he did very well. That’s only one of the reasons that Charles intimidates me and everyone else.

“Kept you busy and out of trouble for a whole summer,” said Bran smugly.

He was teasing … but serious as well. One of the oddest things about being grown-up was looking back at something you thought you knew and finding out the truth of it was completely different from what you had always believed.

The story also finds Mercy with vampire trouble–Marsilla has discovered that Mercy has killed not just one, but two vampires, and is looking for revenge, so Mercy leaves town for a bit, only to run into another vampire.

I especially like Stefan in this story.

Re-Read: December 2016

The fourth Mercy Thompson book takes place immediately following the events of the third book, continuing the final scene in that book, and–more importantly–fixing one of the biggest problems of that book: Mercy acting as if everything was okay.

Although it makes for difficult reading, I really do love that Patricia Briggs showed just how hard Mercy’s recovery is from the attack in the previous book.

I also do love that Mercy recognizes her frailty and mortality–even if she doesn’t act like it most of the time.

Sensei looked at me and frowned. “You were stupid, Mercy. What is the first rule of combat?”

By this time I could talk. “The best defense is fast tennis shoes,” I said.

He nodded. “Right. When you noticed he was out of control— which I’m sure was about two full minutes at least before I did, because I was helping Gibbs with his axe kick— you should have called for help, then gotten away from him. There was no point in letting this continue until someone got hurt.”

From the sidelines, Gibbs, the other brown belt, said, “She’s sorry, Sensei. She just got her directions confused. She kept running the wrong way.”

Plus: Baba Yaga!

“I did it because of you, coyote. Do you know how much chaos you have caused? The Morrigan says that is your gift. Rash, quick, and lucky, just like Coyote himself. But that old Trickster dies in his adventures— but you won’t be able to put yourself back together with the dawn.”

However, I don’t much like the main Big Bad of the story or that arc of the story, despite many other things there are to like about the characters.

Chad taught me and the oakman how to swear in ASL and worked with us until we were pretty good at finger spelling. It left my hands aching, but kept him occupied.

It’s worth reading for Mercy’s healing, but I’m not enamoured with other parts of the story.
Rating: 8/10

Published by Ace

Silver Bourne (2010)

Every time I get a new Patricia Briggs book, I hesitate before reading it, afraid that this is the time she’ll let me down. That her previous books can’t be nearly as good as I remember them, and maybe this time I’ll be disappointed.

I never am, but that doesn’t stop me from being afraid, probably because so many story lines have disappointed me in the past.

Mercy is still working things out with Adam and his pack, while they are trying to work out accepting her, a coyote as part of their pack. And if things were not hard enough, Samuel suddenly goes off the deep end (almost literally) and his problems are thrown into Mercy’s problems with Pack politics.

Then to add insult to injury, Tad asks Mercy to check on a friend–a book seller from whom she borrowed a book–and it seems as if Phin is in serious trouble and no one but Mercy seems to know about it.

Have I mentioned before how much I really really like Mercy? Because I do. She’s not all powerful. She recognizes her own limitations. She cares deeply about people and will ignore her own safety to help others. What more could I want in a heroine?

SPOILER (rot13)
Nobhg gur bayl guvax V jnfa’g 100% ba obneq jvgu sbe guvf fgbel jnf gur erfbyhgvba bs Fnzhry’f ceboyrz. Abg gung V gubhtug vg jnf n onq erfbyhgvba, whfg gung V svaq vg… hafrggyvat… gung Oena’f fbaf ner nyy svaqvat gjbb yheir jura gurl’ir orra ybaref sbe fb ybat. Vg whfg srry n yvggyr gbb cng.
END SPOILER

Although it is not horrible, this is not my favorite Mercy cover. I just canNOT see Mercy wearing that outfit. I know they’re not sexy, but can we go back to the coveralls? Please?

But aside from those two quibbles, this was another good Mercy Thompson book, and I wait impatiently for the next to come out in paperback.
Rating: 8/10

Published by Ace

Re-Read: October 2014

This story has three separate story arcs: Mercy receives a call from Tad, asking her to check on the owner of the book fae book she borrowed, Samuel has started to sink further into his misery, and Mercy begins truly to have problems with the Pack, now that she and Adam are officially mated and she is part of the pack.

I especially like Samuel’s story arc, because I like the idea of Samuel’s wolf putting Samuel in his place.

I also like the fact there are consequences for actions. Although some of the consequences don’t seem fair, they are just and reasonable.

Re-Read: May 2016

Book 5 finds the Fae wanting an item back from Mercy–except that she’s not certain just what is is they want back, and also finds the pack using those bonds against Mercy.

I stumbled back away from the truck, shaking and sweating in the night air, the fae stick in one hand like a cudgel or a sword that could protect me from . . . being stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

Because they are unhappy to find a coyote in their midst (and a the head of the pack). It also finds Samuel tired of living, and that is a very interesting plot line.

“What have you done with Samuel? Is he all right?”

Pale ice blue eyes examined me thoughtfully.

“Samuel? I’m pretty certain he’d forgotten I could do this: it has been so long since we battled for control. He let me out to play when he chose, and I left it to him.” He was quiet a moment or two, then he said, almost shyly. “You know when I’m here. You call me Sam.”

And, in a thread that lasts for several books, Mercy causes Gabriel to have a falling out with his mother.

“She wasn’t happy about Heart pointing a gun at Maia,” I told him. “But I think she was madder at me than Heart. He didn’t bring in a werewolf for her kids to play with.”

His face went police-officer blank. “What?”

“Yeah,” I said. “I don’t think she’ll be coming here to get her car fixed anymore. Gabriel’s not coming back either.”

“You did what?”

“Cut it out,” growled Adam. He gestured at Sam. “This wolf would never harm a hair on a child’s head, and Mercy knew it.”

And we also see Ben’s continued growth. I really like Ben, and enjoy his (very slow) rehabilitation.

Re-Read: December 2016

The fifth Mercy Thompson book finds things slightly settled down after the events of the previous two books, but there are two problems: first is that Adam brought Mercy into the pack, and many of the wolves are deeply unhappy with that, and the second is that Samuel is tired of living.

There are a lot of events that have repercussions throughout this series: Mercy’s angering of Sylvia (Gabriel’s mother), Samuel’s attempted suicide, members of the pack attempting to harm Mercy. And the Fairy Queen.

I don’t like to kill quail. The way the lone feather sticking up on top bobs in opposition to their heads when they walk makes me smile. And they are silly, without a sporting chance against a coyote, at least not against me. I suppose they can’t be that vulnerable because I’m not the only coyote around, and there are a lot of quail. But I always feel guilty about hunting them.

As I finished my second kill, I planned what I’d do to the person who made me so hungry I had to eat quail.

“Samuel?” I asked. “Why are you speaking Welsh? I don’t understand you unless you talk a lot slower. And use small words.” It was kind of a joke. Welsh never seems to have small words.

Plus, many amusing bits.

“Piece of junk,” groused Zee. “What’s not rusted to pieces is bent. If you took all the good parts and put them in a pile, you could carry them out in your pocket.” There was a little pause. “Even if you only had a small pocket.”

I patted the car. “Don’t you listen to him,” I whispered to it. “You’ll be out of here and back on the road in no time.”

Zee propelled himself all the way under the car so his head stuck out by my feet.

“Don’t you promise something you can’t deliver,” he snarled.

I raised my eyebrows, and said in dulcet tones, “Are you telling me you can’t fix it? I’m sorry. I distinctly remember you saying that there is nothing you can’t fix. I must have been mistaken, and it was someone else wearing your mouth.”

He gave a growl that would have done Sam credit, and pushed himself back under again, muttering, “Deine Mutter war ein Cola-Automat!”

And I also like how Ben is ever-so-slowly being redeemed.
Rating: 9/10

River Marked (2011)

rivermarkedThings are going well for Mercy–except for the fact that her mother is driving her absolutely crazy with details for her upcoming wedding, which drives Mercy to beg Adam to elope, before things get even more out of hand. But can the Alpha of the Columbia River basin really get away with eloping?

OK, yeah, so there’s all this wedding/marriage stuff, but what is really fabulous about this book is the finally Mercy gets to learn something about her past. She discovers she isn’t the only walker around (and even that those she meets disdain the term skinwalker, as a different type of creature all together).

I love that we’re finally delving into the Native American mythos, and that (to me at least), it felt like she got it right. I really enjoyed the look at how Mercy became what and who she was.

I also have to admit that I appreciate her complicated relationship with her mother.

If you have not read the Mercy series, you should be able to read this book without much difficulty, but it will be much more rewarding to start at the first book and move your way forward to here.

Regarding the cover: I don’t dislike the covers in this series–in fact, I tend to like that they mostly seem to get Mercy right, unfortunately, I can’t stand the outfit she’s wearing and after the cover of Faith Hunter‘s Raven Cursed, this just falls way short. Mind you, it’s still better than lots of other stuff out there, but this is not portraying Mercy as a strong independent woman. So: please try harder Ace.
Rating: 8.5/10

Published by Ace

Re-Read: October 2014

Although Mercy and Adam are supposed to be on their Honeymoon, unexpected gifts from the fae lead to (when dealing with fae anyway) the expected consequences, of danger and threat.

But more importantly, we learn more about Mercy’s father, and finally meet Coyote (THE Coyote).

Figures that are both tricksters and are likable can be tricky. If the Trickster figure is TOO nice, then they aren’t really a trickster, but if they can also cross the line into being complete assholes.

Re-Read: May 2016

Book 6 is Mercy’s wedding to Adam, and further problems with the Fae and other supernatural creatures.

And their honeymoon.

“Are we going to Portland?” I asked. “Or Multnomah Falls?”

He smiled at me. “Go to sleep.”

I waited three seconds. “Are we there yet?”

However, on the good side, Mercy finally meets other walkers, and finally gets to have a long talk with Coyote.

Adam smiled and rocked me a couple of times. “How confusing it must be to have a coyote half, a human half, an Indian half, and a white half.”

This IS Coyote.

He looked down at the water, and said, as if it were a new discovery, “Maybe that’s where you get it. I always assumed it was just too much Star Wars, but maybe it was genetic.” After a moment’s thought, he shook his head. “No. I know where his genes came from. I think it must have been Star Wars.”

“How big is it?” I asked.

He looked at me and poked his tongue into his cheek. “You know? That’s a good question. I think we ought to find out.”

And he knocked me into the river.

Frost Burned (2013)

frost_burnedThis series switch to hard back first printings several volumes ago, which I hated, because I hate hard back books. Luckily for me, I have a kindle, so I can buy new releases without having to wait a year (or more!) for the book to come out in paperback. HUZZAH!

Mercy and Jesse, (Adam’s daughter and now Mercy’s step-daughter) are out doing Black Friday shopping because Jesse’s mom broke plans with her.

Which is how neither of them is present when the entire pack is picked up by supposed government agents. The pack is in trouble–Adam is in trouble–and Mercy is on her own, and barely just recovered from the serious injuries she suffered in the last book.

First, what I like best about this series is that although Mercy is now married to Adam, she still relies on her wits and her cunning to get out of trouble. And she does what she believes right, even when it pisses Adam (who wants only to protect her and keep her safe) the hell off.

I also appreciate (like isn’t the right term here) that although the weres have miraculous healing, Mercy doesn’t, and she isn’t healed after the commercial break when we wits are unable to keep her from fighting (or from wrecking her car and suffering the after-effects of that.)

I also like that Mercy and I also have a similar outlook on life.

I knew I was going to ave to do something about them later, no matter how angry I was now. It wasn’t a matter of what they deserved–it was a matter of who I was and who I wasn’t. At some point, everyone had to draw a line in the sand over which they would not cross.

It’s sometimes hard to be Kantian in the modern world.

Of course, it’s not all philosophy and Mercy getting beat up. There IS humor, although less of it than previous books I think.

I knew it was swearing because, even if lyrical–if to me mostly unfathomable–Spanish, swearing still sounds like swearing.

I will note, however, that this book alludes not just to events in the previous book, but also in the last Alpha and Omega book. You’ll probably be fine if you haven’t read that book, but events there are having repercussions on the world in which Mercy lives.

All in all, this is another good entry into the series, and I hate that I have to wait a year for the next book.
Rating: 8/10

Published by Ace

Re-Read: October 2014

Mercy and her step-daughter, Jesse, are hitting the Black-Friday sales when a panic attack causes Mercy to wreck her rabbit. When she can’t reach anyone to come pick her up, she discovers that with a few exceptions, the entire pack has been kidnapped—which takes some doing, kidnapping an entire pack of were-wolves.

This book switches point-of-view between Mercy and Adam, so we can see what Mercy is doing, while also learning about the men that have kidnapped the pack, which is easier than having him tell all about it once he’s free. ?

On the plus side for me, Bran sends Asil, the Moor, to the Tri-cities to help Mercy. I really like Asil.

Asil smiled; it was a warm and friendly smile. “He told me that gave you sorrow. You would scheme and plan so no one would know—and never realize that he didn’t even have to investigate such an incident. ‘Who else could it be?’ he told me when I called him to … discuss the incident. ‘Can you imagine any of the pack putting peanut butter on the seat of my car to teach me a lesson?’”

“Carefully worded for a fae who doesn’t have to tell the truth,” said Asil.

Tad turned to the old wolf cooly. “I am always careful with the truth. It is a powerful thing and deserves respect.”

“Of course,” anwered Asil. “When you are old, you will find yourself assuming that everyone else is careless with important things, too. My comment was not meant as censure; you merely surprised me.”

Rating: 8/10

Re-Read: May 2016

Book 7 finds Mercy adjusting to married life–and being a step mother. It also has Mercy attempting to discover what has happened to the entire pack, when they are kidnapped by rogue federal agents.

This book has several scenes that have stuck with me, including Mercy throwing up on Kyle’s floor.

We get a lot of Kyle in this book, which makes me happy.

“Did you find out if they found out anything about them?” I asked.

Kyle gave me a look, then busied himself making me a peanut butter and huckleberry jelly sandwich. “What really bothers me is that I understood that question. You will eat this and go to sleep, so your pronouns get their antecedents back.

ALSO, we get Asil, who I always enjoy.

There was silence on the stairs behind Ben and me.

“I believe I misheard,” said Asil, who’d stopped on the stairs. “English is not my first, nor even my fifth, language. Did you say ‘a vampire friend’?”

“I did.”

There was another of those speaking silences, then he laughed. “Please tell me I won’t end up with eggs in my pillowcase or peanut butter on my car seat.”

I threw up my hands involuntarily and turned to him to face him again. Walking backward, I said, “I was twelve. Don’t you wolves have anything better to gossip about than things that happened twenty years ago?”

“Mi princesa,” he told me, his voice deep and flirty, “I was in Spain and I heard about the peanut butter. Two decades are nothing, I assure you— we will speak of it a hundred years from now in hushed voices. There are big bad wolves all over the world who tremble at the sound of his name, yet a little puny coyote girl peanut-buttered the seat of Bran Cornick’s car because he told her that she should wear a dress to perform for the pack.”

“No,” I said, getting hot about it again. I turned and stalked down the hall. “He said Evelyn— my foster mother— should know better, that she should have made sure I had a dress to wear. He made her cry.” And that was the last time I consented to play the piano.

I opened the guest room door, and Asil paused until I looked at his face. “Yes,” he said sincerely. “Such a one deserves peanut butter on the seat of his pants.”

“Carefully worded for a fae who doesn’t have to tell the truth,” said Asil.

Tad turned to the old wolf coolly. “I am always careful with the truth. It is a powerful thing and deserves respect.”

“Of course,” answered Asil. “When you are old, you will find yourself assuming that everyone else is careless with important things, too. My comment was not meant as censure; you merely surprised me.”

Night Broken (2014)

Untitled-1This is the latest Mercy Thompson book, which I got as a new release, but was waiting for me to finish Why Kings Confess, which was waiting for me to catch up on the Sebastian St. Cyr series (which I didn’t actually do).

Mercy’s life is about to become miserable.

Adam’s wife is in danger–she has been threatened and then beaten by an ex-fling–and has come crying back to Adam for protection. Not only does Mercy have to live with this master manipulator in her home, but given Mercy’s already precarious position in the pack, Christy’s manipulations serve to undermine her authority with those in the pack who already didn’t like Mercy.

The fact that Jesse struggles with a woman who rarely has time for her and whose concern means Mercy can’t even strike out when Christy deserves it–because Jessee doesn’t.

“She’s a good person, but she is a weak person, too. She can’t take care of anyone else because she’s too busy taking care of herself.”

I think that’s one of the best things about Mercy, that she knows that what she wants isn’t always for the best, and sometimes you have to put aside your wants for the needs of others.

Something Christy doesn’t do.

But, with one sentence, it was made clear that no matter how selfish she is, she isn’t a monster, or even a bad person.

“I think your stalker just burned down your condo, building and all.”
She paled. “Did they get everyone out?”

That her first reaction was concern for her neighbors and not her things, shows that she isn’t completely self-centered.

But some good things happen to Mercy: she finally meets another Coyote shifter, even if she discovers that being the offspring of Coyote more of a curse to him.

“The funny part is that I had not had a drink of alcohol since I went on a five-day bender in 1917 and woke up to find I’d volunteered for the army .” He smiled and moved his arm back over his eyes. “It’s not safe, you see, to get drunk when Coyote might be watching.”

That’s both horrible and hilarious; I really liked Gary Laughingdog.

But, bad things happen to Mercy. She remains a shifter–fragile and easily broken–in a pack of werewolves with healing ability, and no matter how much she trains, when really bad things happen, she is going to get hurt.

Cover note: although the boobs are just ridiculous and I hate that these cover always dress her in stupid skimpy tops, the rest of the cover is pretty good. I loved that her braids actually look real–not the fake fat braids, but real braids from real hair, and she is in a position of strength.

All-in-all, another enjoyable entry in the Mercy series.
Rating: 8/10

Published by Ace

Re-Read: May 2016

Book 8 finds Beauclaire wanting his father’s walking stick back from Mercy.

“Beauclaire knew that someone was going to have to take out Lugh. He was, apparently, girding up his loins to do just that when Da took care of it. That didn’t mean he didn’t swear vengeance.”

Adam’s ex-wife fleeing back to Adam from a stalker has hurt her (and possibly killed a man she dated). But Christy is manipulative by nature, and her presence makes things very difficult for Mercy (and everyone else in the pack).

“You should hear what she says about you.”

No. No, I shouldn’t. Neither should Jesse, but there was nothing I could do about that.

But she’s not a terrible unfeeling person. She’s just self-centered.

“I think your stalker just burned down your condo, building and all.”

She paled. “Did they get everyone out?”

We get to spend a fair amount of time with Honey, who is still in mourning over the loss of her mate.

Also, Coyote comes back for a visit.

Coyote laughed. “That one has been trying to avoid me for most of his life.” His white t-shirt set off his long black braid, tied with a pink scrunchie.

“Maybe if you didn’t get him sent to prison when you visited, he’d be more interested in seeing you,” I suggested, trying not to stare at the scrunchie. It had a white lamb dangling from a chain.

“Stupid, stupid, stupid,” Gary chanted as he ran. “Stupid freaking Coyote. Always getting me in trouble.”

I bumped him with my shoulder. “Accept some responsibility for your own life,” I panted, finally. “You could have stayed sitting in the middle of the road. You chose to come with us.”

Gary gave me an irritated look. “Whose side are you on anyway?”

He wasn’t as out of breath as I was. Maybe he had more practice running.

Beauclaire looked at me. “I don’t know Coyote,” he said. “Maybe I will have to remedy that.”

Adam’s lips curled up in satisfaction. “I would pay money,” he said.

Fire Touched (2016)

fire touched_front mech.inddThe 9th Mercy Thompson book finds the problems with the Fey becoming even greater. They Fae are still hiding on their Reservations or Underhill.

(W)e thought for a while that we could stay on our reservations. No humans could get in, not with their fighter jets or tanks. A bard might have managed, but your bards are not given to wandering in the wilderness in this era.

HOwever, internal tensions are leading to trouble for Fey like Zee, Mercy’s former boss and the former owner of Mercy’s former auto-repair shop.

Because the Fae are in hiding, when a giant troll shows up on the Cable Bridge and starts destroying cars (and the bridge), it falls upon Mercy, Adam, and the Pack to fix the situation (ie, kill the giant “car-eating monster”).

Somehow, a troll hadn’t seemed as scary when I was reading about it in Ariana’s book. The drawing had been about four inches high by two inches wide.

(T)he traffic on the highway to town bogged down. A traffic jam on this road was unusual, but then so was a monster that destroyed cars. I suspected there was a connection. Sometimes, I’m observant like that.

I think what I like best about this series is that Mercy’s humanity and fragility.

I was as vulnerable as any human. My superpower consisted of changing into a thirty-five-pound coyote.

Yet despite that, she continues to do what is right, and she does get hurt (although when she has been hurt seriously, Coyote has stepped in to help out a bit, but she still has a lot of rehab to deal with).

Additionally, although Mercy is a part of the tumultuous events in the world, the is neither the cause of the problems nor the secret savior. She has gifts, but she doesn’t save the world and isn’t built to save the world.

There’s another interesting thing about this series. Although, unlike Jane Yellowrock, Mercy isn’t offended by cursing, she generally doesn’t curse. But other characters do (much like the general population) and so it gives those characters (ie, Ben) additional traits that make them stand out.

“Car?” Ben said, and glanced around. “Fucking troll throwing fucking cars. What’s the world coming to?” He pointed a finger at Scott and Sherwood, who’d followed his sprint. “You and you, come with me. We’re to rescue our Zackie boy, who might have gotten smashed by a fucking car.”

Although Mercy does frequently paraphrase what Ben says, if it’s not a direct quote, which amuses me.

This book introduces Aiden, the Fire Touched of the title.

“You aren’t a werewolf,” he said, but I could tell he wasn’t sure.

“No,” I agreed. “But I am in charge right this minute.”

Aiden made an angry noise.

“If Zee promised to do his best to see that we protected you,” I told him, “he’s fulfilled his word to you.” I smiled grimly. “If he’d come singing your praises, we’d have killed you where you stood.

This bit cracked me up:

“I could smack you,” I said. “Just saying.”

“I’m driving,” he answered meekly.

We have a rule (it actually stems back to my days in college) along those lines, except it is expressed as “Don’t Fuck with the Driver.”

Once the driver is done driving, however, all bets are off.

I quite liked this book, and was glad to spend more time in Mercy’s world and with Mercy. And I’m still pleased with the way this series is going.

However, don’t start here. Just don’t. You possibly could, since it’s been two years since the last book, and I didn’t get lost, but you really need to watch Mercy grow into her relationship with Adam and the changes within the pack (not to mention everything with the Fey).

And that’s one other thing I love about this series. Mercy and Adam are a solid couple (although they had difficulties, mostly stemming from the Pack’s acceptance of her) and that is one of the strengths of the story. It’s a lovely element to the series.
Rating: 8/10

Published by Ace

 

Alpha and Omega

 

Alpha & Omega (2007) (found in Shifting Shadows)

Alpha-Omega-Cry-WolfThe novella Alpha & Omega first appeared in On the Prowl, which I picked up only for the Patricia Briggs story. I recommend getting Shifting Shadows rather than that.

That is not, by the way, the cover for either Shifting Shadows or Alpha & Omega, but it’s a great scene from the first book, I couldn’t resist using it.

This novella introduces Anna, who is to become mated to Charles, and how they meet: Anna calls Bran because she discovers that her pack has murdered a teen boy.

Please be aware that Anna had been brutalized (to use a phrase from the first book) by her pack, and although we don’t see this, it has shaped Anna and it is mentioned several times. So this story (and series) might be upsetting to some people.

It brings me to tears usually, to be completely honest.

Why did I re-read this? Because after reading the latest Mercy Thompson book, I wanted to read more Patricia Briggs. I thought about re-starting the Mercy series, but decided I wanted to re-read this series instead (but I may go back to some of the Mercy books too), so I started with the novella.

There are some interesting bits in her world building that I quite like. For instance, “There was a madness that came sometimes to those who live too long.”

It’s all good and well to wish we could live forever, but it’s hard to truly contemplate what that would truly be like for some people.

You can start the series without reading this novella, but you probably want to.
Rating: 8/10

Published by Ace

Cry Wolf (2008)

I really like Patricia Briggs writing, so when I saw she had a new book coming, I ordered it without knowing anything about it.

CryWolf is set in the same world as her Mercy series, and many of the characters carry over, although Mercy does not make an appearance. Which is a good thing, since I think the series needed to be able to stand alone. We also learned about the Marrock’s pack from an outsiders point of view, rather than Mercy’s, which made it very different. Samuel made a brief appearance, but not a large appearance, which I liked, because he has been a major character in the Mercy series.

As with the Mercy books, the characters are distinct and well developed, although much of that may come from most of the characters having made an appearance in the Mercy books. One thing I liked was that we learned more about the characters who have made brief appearances in the Mercy series. The Marrock was a major character, and we learned quite a bit about his past, which I found fascinating.

And of course we spend lots of time with Charles and Anna.

However, I had one major problem with the book. I spent the entire book feeling like I had missed the first part of the story. I kept checking to see if there was a book before this. Nope. Was this something that happened in one of the Mercy books? I don’t think so. So why does it feel like I’m missing something?

Because there was a short story that came before this.

That’s not so good. The first book in a series should be able to stand on its own, without making you feel like you’ve missed something. Was it anything glaring? No. Just a general feeling as I read the book that I was completely missing something.

But what was even more annoying is I own the collection the story is in, but hadn’t gotten around to reading it yet.

So like her other books, it was a very good story with very good characters, but lost points for the nagging feeling that I was missing something. If you like Patricia Brigg’s Mercy series, then you’ll want to pick up Cry Wolf. Just be aware that if you haven’t read the short story, you may feel like you’re missing something.
Rating: 7/10

Published by Ace

Re-Read: September 2014

My reaction to this book, re-reading it and after reading half the Mercy books and the short story anthology is quite different from my initial read.

First and foremost, I realized this story is as much about Asil and Bran as it is about Anna and Charles.

I’ve grown to like Asil, so I quite enjoyed visiting with his past, and seeing him redeemed.

I’d also forgotten about Walter–I think Patricia Briggs did a very good job with his story arc, and I like how it turned out (despite everything).

Re-Read: April 2016

This is the first full Alpha & Omega novel, and takes place immediately after the events in the novella. (And by immediately, I mean, the next day.)

Charles’ Brother Wolf has claimed Anna as mate, but as Anna knows very little about being a werewolf, and absolutely nothing about being an Omega werewolf, she has a lot to learn, and unfortunately, they don’t have the time they need to learn it.

Interestingly, this is as much Asil’s story as it as Anna and Charles’ story. And I really like Asil, so I quite liked that part of the story.

IN his hothouse, Asil trimmed dead blooms from his roses. They weren’t as glorious as the ones he’d had in Spain, but they were a vast improvement over the commercially grown flowers he’d started with. His Spanish roses had been the result of centuries of careful breeding. It hadn’t bothered him to leave them at the time, but now he regretted their loss fiercely.

Sarai had often thumped him soundly on the head for looking at other women, though she’d known he’d never stray. Now that she was gone, he seldom even looked. Flirting didn’t make him feel disloyal to his dead mate, but he’d found he missed that thump too badly.

I really like Asil.

We also meet another wolf, who I quite like, and we learn a good deal about Bran’s past (there is a story about Bran’s past in the anthology Shifting Shadows).

I also really like Bran.

Bran didn’t reply, just spun himself slowly, around and around on the little stool in the corner of the room.

He folded his arms and rocked back on his heels. He must have read the obstinate refusal in Charles’s face because he sighed and switched to Welsh.

That’s a pretty good language to switch to, in the midwest, if you don’t want anyone to understand what you’re saying.

As with the novella, this story mentions Anna’s past, where she was tormented by her previous pack. We don’t get particular details, but it’s enough to read between the lines and know that horrible things happened to her.

Just be aware of that before starting this book.

But I do like this book, and this series, and there are events here that you won’t learn about in the Mercy book.
Rating: 8/10

Re-Read: December 2016

One of the things I particularly like about this book (and spin-off series) is that we get to spend time with both Bran and Asil.

Bran didn’t reply, just spun himself slowly, around and around on the little stool in the corner of the room.

In his hothouse, Asil trimmed dead blooms from his roses. They weren’t as glorious as the ones he’d had in Spain, but they were a vast improvement over the commercially grown flowers he’d started with. His Spanish roses had been the result of centuries of careful breeding. It hadn’t bothered him to leave them at the time, but now he regretted their loss fiercely.

Still, he’d been exchanging cuttings and rootstock with other rose aficionados for several decades before he’d been forced to leave, so his work had not all been in vain. Somewhere in the world there were probably descendants of his roses. Maybe if Bran made him live a few more years, he’d go out looking for them.

Sarai had often thumped him soundly on the head for looking at other women, though she’d known he’d never stray. Now that she was gone, he seldom even looked. Flirting didn’t make him feel disloyal to his dead mate, but he’d found he missed that thump too badly.

It’s that final sentence that is heartbreaking.
Rating: 8.5/10

Hunting Ground (2009)

Anne was still getting used to the idea of being married to Charles when they go to Seattle his father–the Marrok. The American werewolves are planning on coming out, and the European wolves have been invited to ask questions of the Marrok about how they would be affected by this.

Unfortunately, Anna and an auditorium of alpha males are not a good mix, and Anna’s problems are going to cause problems for Charles before all is said and done.

This is the second Anna and Charles story, and although I admit that I like Mercy Thompson just a little better, I am enjoying where these characters are going. Interestingly enough, I realized after a few chapters that two of the sub characters appeared in a short story Patricia Briggs had written for one of the collections I have. As I liked those characters, this added an extra element to the story.

As far as the story arc, it was interesting, and it followed up on a theme that has been running through the Mercy Thompson books (although you definitely do not need that background for the story.)

If you like supernatural fantasy with werewolves and vampires and fey, then I highly recommend checking out Patricia Briggs writing. Although you could read Hunting Ground without having read the Cry Wolf, doing so you’ll miss out on a great deal of character development and background.
Rating: 7/10

Published by Ace

Re-Read: October 2014

The second Alpha & Omega book finds Charles & Anna sent to broker negioations with the European werewolves, to find a way to make the Marrock’s bringing the American werewolves out of the supernatural closet.

The biggest problem is going to be the head of the European werewolves, who is a horrible monster who enjoys killing humans, but there is no one in Europe strong enough to take him down.

Meanwhile, Anna and Charles are still attempting to adjust to their mating bond, and Anna is very slowly recovering from her treatment at the hands of her first pack.

Re-Read: May 2016

The second Alpha & Omega book takes place soon after the events in Cry Wolf (around the events of Moon Called.) Bran has called a meeting with the European wolves, to discuss the fact that he is bringing the wolves out into the public.

Anna is still coming to terms with her Omega status, and her marriage to Charles, Bran’s enforcer.

Brother Wolf felt her, too. Mate, he told her, not unkindly. Get out of our head so we can deal with She-Who-Is-Not-Kin.

There is a lovely scene in a restaurant where Anna has to step away from the wolves, and plays the piano to distract herself, and then an elderly man asks her to play a song for him. I love that scene, and Charles’ reaction to it.

So often people got it wrong, treating their elders like children, people to be coddled and ignored. He knew better, and so did the big man. The Elders were closer to the Maker of All Things and should be deferred to whenever they made their will known.

And Anna is growing into herself in a way in which I completely approve.

Power came to her call, and she said, “I will make myself safe.”

She also states my beliefs on reincarnation.

If people remembered once being kitchen maids, or farmers who died of nothing more interesting than old age, I might reconsider my stance on reincarnation.

Re-Read: December 2016

The second book in the Alpha & Omega series takes place not long after the events of the first book.

Bran has decided that the werewolves are going to come out to the public, and he is meeting with the European wolves–not to ask them opinion, but to see if there is anything he can do to make things easier for them.

Bran was supposed to run the conclave himself, but Charles manages to convince him something bad will happen if he does, so instead Charles & Anna go to Seattle.

So often people got it wrong, treating their elders like children, people to be coddled and ignored. He knew better, and so did the big man. The Elders were closer to the Maker of All Things and should be deferred to whenever they made their will known.

If people remembered once being kitchen maids, or farmers who died of nothing more interesting than old age, I might reconsider my stance on reincarnation, Anna thought as she returned the British wolf’s smile.

There were many things he did not like about cell phones— but not tangling himself up in cords was a definite benefit.

Fair Game (2012)

My. I was not expecting where that went.

Now that the werewolves have been outed, the Marrock has been far more strict about enforcing the rules. And Charles, as his enforcer, has been very busy. He has also become haunted by those he is forced to kill, and those ghosts are cutting him off from his wife, Anna. So when a request from the FBI comes in for a werewolf consultant, Bran (the Marrock, and Charle’s father) sends Anna and Charles, in the hopes a break from enforcement will help Charles.

In general, I’ve strongly preferred the Mercy Thompson series set in this world to the Alpha & Omega part of the series. Not that I disliked this series, I just really like Mercy and her stories tend to my mysteries while this series is more romance.

So, I was expecting a pleasant read, but not much more, yesterday when I picked up this book.

I ended up away past my bed time, because I couldn’t put it down.

This is, first and foremost, a mystery. Yes, Anna and Charles have problems to resolve, but the main arc of the story was finding and catching the serial killer. The mystery is quite good, and one of the reason I couldn’t put the book down.

The second thing, is that the events in the conclusion of this book are going to have an affect on Mercy Thompson, as she is married to the alpha of the Washington tri-cities.

Third, I like how far Anna has come. When we first met her, she was abused and cowed and frightened of everything. In this book, when she gets into trouble, she sets out to rescue herself. That’s a huge thing, and it makes me happy to see how she has come into herself and no longer fears everything.

I would NOT recommend this as an entry point to the series–this references events in the last Mercy Thompson book, and, as I noted, Anna’s growth and change over the course of the series are one of the (many) strengths of the story, so if you haven’t been following along, that change might not be as powerful.

But aside from that, this is a fabulous story, and I can’t wait to read the next Mercy Thompson book–as this series has switch to an initial hard cover publication, I’m extra glad I have a kindle, and can read it there.
Rating: 8.5/10

Published by Ace

Re-Read: November 2014

This is the third Alpha & Omega story, and although it is about Anna and about Charles coming to terms with the changes in his position as the Marrok’s enforcer, but even more important are the changes to the world that Anna & Charles and Mercy Thompson live in.

Throughout the Mercy series there has been an under story of how the world would react to supernaturals, both socially and in a legal context. This story is really about the status of supernaturals in the world, and how the world might react to their revealed presence. And that is what truly makes this story.

Yes, the bits about Charles dealing with his ghosts is interesting, but to me it’s far less interesting than the tension that has been building between humanity and the supernatural.
Rating: 9/10

Re-Read: May 2016

The third Alpha & Omega book takes place several years between River Marked and Frost Burned.

After the werewolves became known to the public, Charles’ job became much more difficult, since infractions that were previously allowed to slide, now carry a death sentence–a sentence that in many cases Charles has to carry out, when an Alpha can’t or won’t.

Asil left Bran alone with his thoughts then, because if he stayed, Bran would argue with him. This way, Bran would have no one to argue with but himself. And Asil had always credited Bran with the ability to be persuasive.

To give Charles a break, Bran sends him to Boston in search of a serial killer who has been operating for decades, and has picked up werewolf victims.

It is here that we meet Beauclaire (who makes an appearance in Night Broken).

“It is not wise to give something old and powerful something they care about. And I am very old.” He looked at the FBI agents. “Even, possibly, older than your father.

Although the events surrounding the serial killer are horrific, there is much to lighten the story.

A jogger approached them and stopped, jogging in place. “Your dog should be on a leash,” he said in politely disapproving tones. “It’s the rules. There are lots of kids here and a big dog like that might scare someone.”

“Werewolf,” said Anna blandly, just to see what he would do. He stopped jogging and looked, his jaw dropping.

“Shit,” he said. “You’re kidding me.”

“It’s a werewolf,” said Leslie.

“It’s red. Aren’t werewolves supposed to be black or gray?”

“Werewolves can be whatever color,” Anna told him.

He bent down, stretching his legs and breathing deeply. “It’s beautiful.”

He bowed his head, working his hands; then he turned and started walking backward again, facing her. Anna followed, keeping a sharp eye out for things he might back into or over. She wondered if Isaac did this all the time— and, if so, how he avoided getting photos in the paper with captions like “Local Alpha Trips over Child” or “Wolf Versus Street Sign, Street Sign Wins.”

This book tells of the events that have bearing on later books in the Mercy series. You don’t have to know the details for the later books, but it is fascinating to see how the result came to pass.

Re-Read: December 2016

The third Alpha & Omega book finds Charles overcome by increase in killings he needs to do now that the werewolves have come out in public. I takes awhile for Bran to be convinced that this is harming his son.

Asil left Bran alone with his thoughts then, because if he stayed, Bran would argue with him. This way, Bran would have no one to argue with but himself. And Asil had always credited Bran with the ability to be persuasive.

“Asil has appointed himself my guardian?” asked Charles softly. Asil was overstepping himself.

“He was bored, he told me,” said his father. He gave Charles a small smile. “I have given him a job so he doesn’t get bored again.”

I wish there was more Asil here, but I’ll take what I can get.

Bran decides to send Anna–with Charles as her bodyguard–to Boston to look into a serial killer.

The FBI is interested in anything we can add to the investigation.”

“You’re sending me?” People instinctively wanted to please Adam. Charles was better at the destroy-and-subdue, not so good at the coax-and-charm.

“No,” said his da. “That would be dumb. I’m sending Anna. You are going as her guard.

I was informed by my second that we should be honored that you were visiting our city. We should bring you gifts and see if we can get you to abandon your pack and join ours. When I pointed out that that meant Charles would come, too— and displace me— I was told that the blessing of having an Omega in the pack would outweigh even putting up with Charles.”

Dead Heat (2015)

This is the fourth Alpha & Omega series, the story of Charles and Anna. Charles is the enforcer for all the werewolves in North America, and Anna is his wife–a werewolf herself who he rescued from a pack gone bad.

If you have not read the previous books in the series, don’t start here. Unless you aren’t planning to go back and read the earlier books, because there are spoilers galore for the previous books–especially the BIG event at the end of book 3.

Charles has few friends. His position as his father’s enforcer makes it hard for him to get close to anyone. But the few friends he does have, he loves deeply, and will do anything to protect.

Unfortunately, the one thing he can’t do is stop death and old age–at least not if the person refuses to be turned.

As a warning, this book does contain the kidnapping and murder of small children. It’s all off-screen, but it’s still there, although true to the mythology and folklore.

And Anna understands how to deal with evil.

(I)t was serious business, but humor in the face of evil robbed evil of some of its power.

This book was far less of a romance than the earlier books, and continues to take Mercy’s world in very interesting directions, after the events in the third book.
Rating: 7.5/10

Published by Ace

Re-Read: May 2016

The fourth Alpha & Omega book occurs before Night Broken. Charles takes Anna out to Colorado to meet an old friend.

“Really?” said Joseph tentatively. “You don’t remember?” “Someone asked me not to,” said Charles. “And I told him I would oblige him. So no. I don’t remember.”

And to buy a horse for her.

The Arabians might not suit you; they don’t suit everyone. They are like cats: vain, beautiful, and intelligent. But you deal well enough with Asil, who is also vain, beautiful, and intelligent.

They almost immediately become entangled with events surrounding a loose Fae who murders children. (Just so you know from the get-go: dead children here.)

There are also live and amusing kids.

“Shut your piehole, punk kid,” Max said, thumping her on the head with the palm of his hand.

“I’m telling Mama you said ‘Shut your piehole,’” Michael said. “‘ Shut your piehole’ is a bad word.”

“‘ Shut your piehole’ is three words, Michael,” said Mackie.

Undaunted, Michael said, “I’m telling Mama you used three bad words.”

Interestingly, perhaps because Charles is one of the main characters, there are again bits about aging and dying.

“In the old days they’d have kissed my cheek and then left me in the desert to die. Then my family would hire some Hopi or white man too stupid to know the dangers of handling the dead to go deal with the body. Now we’re caught between modern ways and the old. If I die here, only fire will keep my evil ghost from making everyone miserable, and they are too rational to do that.”

And some other bits thrown in.

He was twelve when he told us he liked boys instead of girls. That was right after some friend of his got kicked out of his home for doing the same. Stupid people tossing away the most precious thing God saw fit to give them, I say.”

“Take the question every husband dreads.” Leeds looked at the fae and then back at Leslie. “You know, the one about if pants make you look fat. A fae could say ‘No,’ which you would take to mean that you don’t look fat, when in fact he means ‘The pants don’t make you look fat, your extra weight makes you look fat.’” Leeds cleared his throat and a flush rose up his face. “Not that you do look fat. It was just an example.”

Re-Read: December 2016

The fourth book in the Alpha & Omega series, and I think the end of my Patricia Briggs re-read binge.

One of the things I particularly like about this story is the interaction between the kids.

“Shut your piehole, punk kid,” Max said, thumping her on the head with the palm of his hand.

“I’m telling Mama you said ‘Shut your piehole,’” Michael said. “‘ Shut your piehole’ is a bad word.”

“‘ Shut your piehole’ is three words, Michael,” said Mackie.

Undaunted, Michael said, “I’m telling Mama you used three bad words.”

Those conversations actually tell us as much about the parents as they do the kids, and I thought it was particularly well done.

 

 

Shifting Shadows: Stories from the World of Mercy Thompson (2014)

As I’ve mentioned previously (and repeatedly) I love short stories.

They’re a hard thing to love sometimes, because there are so many poorly written ones out there. Luckily for me, Patricia Briggs tends to do them well, so I didn’t hesitate to pick up this collection of stories set in Mercy Thompson’s world.

The stories are:
Silver
Fairy Gifts (previously published in Naked City)
Gray (previously published in Home Improvement: Undead Edition)
Seeing Eye (previously published in Strange Brew)
Alpha and Omega (previously published in On the Prowl)
The Star of David (previously published in Wolfsbane and Mistletoe)
Roses in Winter
In Red, with Pearls (previously published in Down These Strange Streets)
Redemption
Hollow
OUTTAKE FROM Silver Borne
OUTTAKE FROM Night Broken

The Mercy Thompson Timeline (from Patricia Briggs website)

Long Ago
Silver (novella)

-10 Years
HomeComing (graphic novel)

Any Time
Gray (short story)

-1 Year
Seeing Eye (short story)

Year 1
Moon Called (book)
Alpha and Omega (novella)
Cry Wolf (book)
Hunting Ground (book)
Star of David (short story)

Year 2
Blood Bound (book)
Iron Kissed (book)
Bone Crossed (book)
Roses in Winter (short story)
Silver Borne (book)

Year 3
In Red with Pearls (short story)
River Marked (book)
Fair Game (book)
Frost Burned (book)
Unappreciated Gifts (short story)

Year 4
Redemption (short story)
Dead Heat (book)
Hopcross Jilly (graphic novel)
Night Broken (book)
Hollow (short story)
Fairy Gifts (short story)
Fire Touched (book)

Yes, I do already own all the anthologies in which several of these had been originally published.

Don’t care.

The stories are in chronological order of the Mercy timeline, not the order in which they were originally published.

“Silver” tells the story of how Samuel and Bran were Changed, and how Samuel met Ariana. It’s quite dark, just so you know. It’s still good, and an interesting look at how Samuel and Bran became who they were.

“Fairy Gifts” (previously published in Naked City (2011)) contains none of the characters from the books, but please don’t skip it if you’re only getting this anthology for the Mercy stories (Never mind the fact you’ll be disappointed). It alternates between the past and the present, and is a look at the side of the Wild West few people write about.

I quite adored this brief passage:

“Tap her light, Tommy ,” said one of the men he’d escorted, giving him the traditional farewell wishes of a miner: when forcing a stick of explosive into a drilled hole in the granite, a miner wanted to be very careful tapping it in with his hammer.

It could be taken out, and the story would be fine, but it’s a marvelous piece of ambiance of the time and place.

“Gray” (previously published in Home Improvement: Undead Edition (2011)) is another story that does not have any of the characters in the Mercy and Alpha & Omega stories, but is still one I very much enjoyed. Elyna wants to buy the apartment in which she once lived. As the story unfolds we learn not just about why Elyna no longer lived in that apartment, but a good deal about Elyna herself–and that Elyna is far stronger than she gives herself credit for. This is another very good story.

“Seeing Eye” (previously published in Strange Brew (2009)) I recently re-read in the original anthology. Still really like this story.

“Alpha and Omega” (previously published in On the Prowl (2007)) is start of the Alpha & Omega story. What’s interesting to me is that I had not before realized the overlap between Moon Called and Alpha & Omega. Because I read this when I was well into the Mercy Thompson series, I’d forgotten the details of the events and hadn’t linked them together (or placed them in the same time-line). In many ways this is a difficult story, since the main character, Anna, has suffered a great deal of abuse (physical and sexual) in the past. Yes, those events are in the past, but they have shaped Anna’s life as a werewolf.

But it’s still a good novella.

“The Star of David ” (previously published in Wolfsbane and Mistletoe (2008)) is another story that features a character from Moon Called. I must have blasted through it the first time I read it, because I missed a LOT of details–or at least completely and totally forgotten them.

He’d thought you had to be bleeding someplace to hurt this badly.

That is a terribly, painfully true statement.

David Christiansen was Changed at the same time as Adam, however, he wasn’t found by a pack until too late, and so has spent decades separated from his daughter. The story isn’t really about him, however, as much as it is about his daughter Stella, a social worker who works with children. This is another story I really liked.

“Roses in Winter” is a story about both Kara–the young girl who was attacked and survived to be changed, and Asil, one of the oldest wolves in the Marrok’s pack, who is waiting for the final loss of control he believes is imminent. I’ve always liked Asil, but I like him even more after this story.

He crooned a child’s lullaby his father had sung to him. It wasn’t Spanish, but African, a Moorish tune his father had learned from his grandmother . Like Asil, it was old and worn, the words in a language that no one, to his knowledge, had spoken for a thousand years.

“In Red, with Pearls” (previously published in Down These Strange Streets (2011)) is a Warren and Kyle story. Warren does a lot silently in the background in the Mercy books, so it was good to see him in the forefront, to see who he really is. (Warren and Kyle were another detail I’d forgotten about from Moon Called.)

“Redemption” is a story about Ben, who is a tremendous asshole at the start of the Mercy series. Ben is in IT, so there are a lot of geek jokes in there, most of which are over-explained for the non-geeks. But they’re still funny.

Ben heard Rajeev’s unspoken dismay. What were they thinking selling this half-written spaghetti code to a customer who has never offended us?

“…What I can’t fix is that the program won’t run unless the password is permanently set to PASSWORD and the username is permanently TEST. Since I’m working on databases that hold the US governmental secrets of the last hundred years, you’ll understand that is not acceptable.”

There was a long silence. Then Rajeev said, very carefully “Someone hard-coded the passwords.”

“That’s what I’m seeing,” agreed Ben blandly.

Ben really doesn’t much care for women, so keep that in mind when you read this story.

OK, one last geek bit.

All the main servers had names. Most of them were references to the usual geek favorites : Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Dr. Seuss characters. The only server name that was out of the ordinary was the server someone had named Tree a couple of years ago. Word was that on the eve of transferring to Washington, D.C., a DBA who never read anything but nonfiction had named it in a fit of defiance.

“Hollow” is an actual Mercy story, in which Mercy is requested to investigate a haunting. Mercy isn’t the main character in this story, Rick and Lisa are the story’s center, and that’s perfectly fine.

Change is neither good nor bad. It’s just change.

This is all me:

“It has always been an ambition of mine to serve as an object lesson for others.”

OUTTAKE FROM Silver Borne wasn’t in the book, but it brings Samuel and Ariana (from the first story) back together.

OUTTAKE FROM Night Broken is just a little but from Adam’s point-of-view, from the end of Night Broken. Like the other outtake, it’s not a true short story, but both are interesting and good.

All-in-all, an excellent collection of short stories, and I wasn’t the slightest bit disappointed Mercy appeared only rarely. Patricia Briggs is a good short story writer, and it’s lovely to read stories set in Mercy’s world that are peeks into the lives of other characters.
Rating: 9/10

Published by Ace

Re-Read: May 2016

Interspersed with the novels, I read the short stories in Shifting Shadows. Patricia Briggs is quite good at writing short stories, which is why re-reading is such a pleasure.

Silver
Fairy Gifts (previously published in Naked City)
Gray (previously published in Home Improvement: Undead Edition)
Seeing Eye (previously published in Strange Brew)
Alpha and Omega (previously published in On the Prowl)
The Star of David (previously published in Wolfsbane and Mistletoe)
Roses in Winter
In Red, with Pearls (previously published in Down These Strange Streets)
Redemption
Hollow
OUTTAKE FROM Silver Borne
OUTTAKE FROM Night Broken

Silver tells of Bran and Samuel’s past, from Samuel’s point of view, telling how they were Changed and how Samuel met Ariana.

My father said a name that slid off my ears. He waited a moment, then said, “Samuel?”

I must have looked a little wild-eyed when I turned to him. “She stole my memories. Stole my name.”

He nodded once. “There will be a reckoning.”

“Do you remember them? My wife and children?” I asked. When he nodded again, my panic eased. “As long as someone does, they aren’t lost.”

“They are not lost as long as I live,” my father agreed. “I’ll remember them for you.”

Fairy Gifts is a particular favorite, and you don’t have to know anything of Mercy for this story, since it is set in Butte Montana, in the past and the present.

“It probably won’t surprise you to learn that all the fae don’t get along together, will it, Mr. Hao?”

“We vampires are the soul of brotherly love,” Thomas responded dryly. “I assumed that the fae were the same.”

This is one of my favorite stories.

Gray is completely outside the Mercy timeline, about a vampire who just wants to survive as best she can, and come to terms with the ghost of her husband.

“You don’t look like a vampire,” he said.

“I know,” she agreed. A stray breeze brushed a strand of hair off her cheek. “We’re like serial killers; we look just like everyone else.”

Seeing Eye is the backstory of two characters who appear in the Alpha & Omega series, and you need no background for this story.

Star of David is about David Christiansen, who appears in Moon Called. It’s a story of redemption and acceptance, and is one I particularly liked. “He’d thought you had to be bleeding someplace to hurt this badly.”

Roses in Winter is an Asil story, and gives us the story of Kara, whose father appears in Blood Bound, wanting help for his young daughter who was attacked and survived the Change.

He crooned a child’s lullaby his father had sung to him. It wasn’t Spanish, but African, a Moorish tune his father had learned from his grandmother. Like Asil, it was old and worn, the words in a language that no one, to his knowledge, had spoken for a thousand years.

Asil is one of my favorite characters, and I am always glad when he makes an appearance.

In Red with Pearls is a Warren and Kyle story, and as much as I love both of those characters, this story doesn’t do much for me.

Aside from the outtakes, you should be able to read these stories without having read any of the novels.

Redemption is a Ben story, and as much as I like Ben, and I like seeing his changes (which we do here) this isn’t one of my favorite stories.

But I do love various bits of this story.

Ben heard Rajeev’s unspoken dismay. What were they thinking selling this half-written spaghetti code to a customer who has never offended us?

“What I can’t fix is that the program won’t run unless the password is permanently set to PASSWORD and the username is permanently TEST. Since I’m working on databases that hold the US governmental secrets of the last hundred years, you’ll understand that is not acceptable.”

There was a long silence. Then Rajeev said, very carefully “Someone hard-coded the passwords.”

“That’s what I’m seeing,” agreed Ben blandly.

All the main servers had names. Most of them were references to the usual geek favorites: Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Dr. Seuss characters. The only server name that was out of the ordinary was the server someone had named Tree a couple of years ago. Word was that on the eve of transferring to Washington, D.C., a DBA who never read anything but nonfiction had named it in a fit of defiance.

Hollow is a Mercy story, and strangely, not one of my favorites, despite the bits I did like.

“It has always been an ambition of mine to serve as an object lesson for others.”

“Holy Roman Empire. What happened to my bedroom?”

 

 

Masques (1993/2010)

This is a revised version of Patricia Brigg’s first published book, and unlike some of her more recent works, is not urban/supernatural fantasy but straight up fantasy. Luckily for me, it’s not high fantasy that takes 30k pages to resolve the story, but a fun story told in 300 pages.

Aralorn is a mercenary who is also (secretly) a green mage. Those hidden skills have helped her out of numerous scrapes, and also helps her to rescue a wolf–a strange wolf who eventually speaks to her, and seems to have skills beyond what one would expect from a creature with four paws. Her green magic eventually leads her to becoming a spy, and it is as a spy that she eventually runs into serious problems.

I actually quite enjoyed this story. Much of it isn’t subtle, but it is interesting and it’s quite fun. The nice thing about fantasy is you not just that you can have magic, but that you can swords and women with equal (or mostly equal) rights in the same world. As much as I love historical fiction, it’s hard to have a strong and interesting female lead character who is not also completely out of character for her time. Whereas if you make your own world, you don’t have to worry about such historical accuracies.

Please note that as I said at the start, this is not a new work, but instead a revision of an earlier work, so there are some problems with the writing and the story telling, but despite those issues, it’s still a fun and enjoyable read, and one I recommend.
Rating: 7/10

Published by Ace

          


Raven's Shadow (2004)

Yes, I am gouging myself on new books. I'd been very good, about not bought myself any books for several months, so I figure I'm entitled to a small binge--especially when I can find books on sale.

Seraph, a Traveler, a mage, and the last of her clan, is saved by Tier, a solider heading home for peace and calm, years after he snuck out as a boy to join the army. The first two chapters tell of their meeting and how Tier saved Seraph. The remainder of the book tells of what Seraph does after Tier disappears.

Although Raven's Shadow is book one of a duology, it can be read as a stand alone novel--the author resolves the issues and problems satisfactorily by the end of the book. I have a great deal of admiration for authors who can do that (and also authors who can tell a story in under a thousand pages).

I was very pleased with Raven's Shadow. The story was fun, the characters were interesting, and the writing was good. There were several things that I particularly liked about the story: the Travelers, who were somewhat akin to gypsies, are an oppressed class, yet Patricia Briggs makes sure that they aren't all noble, and that some react to their persecution the way that many people react--with anger and hostility. It makes them far more human than than they would have been otherwise, considering the story.

I also like the fact that for most of the story Seraph and Tier older--middle aged by the standards of the time. Not callow youths learning their skills and powers, nor aged masters with wisdom and skill, but (somewhat) regular people, comfortable with their skills and with themselves.

There were some flaws with the book. I thought that things came together a little too easy in some parts. I wasn't sure what the limitations on a Raven's power were, mostly she seemed to be able to do whatever she needed, but again, as she was older, she should have known the limitations of her powers, and not attempted more than she was capable of doing. The same thing for Tier, although that is also explained to some small degree.

So there was at least some explanation

But all in all, the story was engaging and well-paced, with interesting characters. It was a fun read, and although I was able to put the book down and do other things, that isn't necessarily a bad thing. If you're looking for a good fantasy, with strong characters, then I definitely recommend Raven's Shadow.
Rating: 8/10

Raven's Strike (2005)

The sequel to Raven's Shadow, Raven's Strike picks up where Raven's Shadow left off. Tier and Seraph, and their children Lier and Jes are headed back from Taela. They are still traveling with the clan of Rongier the Librarian, and Hennea, who was separated from her clan when she was kidnapped by Volis .

Like the first book, Raven's Strike has an interesting story and characters. And my favorite: strong female characters. However, that doesn't mean the men are weak. In fact I again think Tier is the most interesting character in the story, although the focus is less upon him in this book than in the previous book. However, the complexity that Jes develops in this story makes up for it.

There were again a couple things in the story that bothered me--one of which made me look up from the book and say, "That's ridiculous!" I'm sorry, but the Emperor just doesn't show up at a peasant's house and stay for a few days, sleeping in the barn. And my desbelief was exacerbated by the fact that the emperor appeared without any warning, which stressed how unlikely the situation was. Even more frustrating, in the following chapters she did a good job of explaining why the emperor had to leave, and why he wanted to search out Tier. Perhaps if this part of the story had been presented first, I would not have found the Emperor's arrival so jarring, and might have been able to overlook how unrealistic the situation was. But was things were written, I ended up pulled abruptly from the story, which is a bad thing.

Also, towards the end of the story (and I'm going to try to be vague here) I did not understand the resolution of Tier's problem. I kept waiting for an explanation, and none ever came, which was rather frustrating. The way the problem was solved was entirely too much "then a miracle happens" to sit well with me.

However, despite these weaknesses, Raven's Strike was still a good and enjoyable book, and its many strengths were enough to overcome its flaws. I really liked the explanation of the mermori. I found them fascinating. I also liked learning more about Phoran's Memory.

Though, as much as I liked the cover of Raven's Shadow, I hate to cover of Raven's Strike. Seraph no longer looks like a mature woman, but isntead looks like a badly dressed teen. (And the dress she's wearing? Ugh. And it is repeatedly mentioned how Seraph keeps wearing herTraveler's pants, instead of going back to a dress like a proper Rederni woman. And what is the dog like creature supposed to be? Because it certainly isn't Jes. (Nor is it any species of canine known to man.)

I'm glad this was the second book in the series, because covers like this are enough to keep me from purchasing books by new authors. (I don't need look like even more of a geek than I already am, when I pull out books to read while I'm waiting for the PRT.)

If you enjoyed Raven's Shadow, then you'll definitely want to read Raven's Strike. If you have not read Raven's Shadow, the story is written so that you should be able to read the story without missing anything. But to me, Raven's Shadow is the stronger of the two books, so you'll really want to read that first.
Rating: 7/10

 

Anthologies

 

On the Prowl (2007)
Patricia Briggs, Eileen Wilks, Karen Chance, Sunny

on_the_prowlWow. Talk about a mixed bag. I read and thoroughly enjoyed the first two stories. I started the last two and thought, “meh.” But then realized that to review the book I had to finish all four stories.

I should have trusted my first instincts and just reviewed the first two stories leaving the last two unread.

The anthology opens with Patricia Brigg’s story Alpha and Omega. This is the prequel to her book Cry Wolf, which I read earlier (not realizing this story was in fact a prequel to it). If you’ve read her Mercy Thompson series, then you’re already familiar with Charles. But if you haven’t read the Mercy series (which really, you should) it won’t matter, because the main character is Anna, a young werewolf who has been terribly abused by her pack. A call to the Marrok brings Charles to town, to look into the problems with her Chicago area pack.

This story is the reason I picked up the anthology in the first place. I really like Patricia Brigg’s storytelling and characters. Why did it take me so long to read this anthology? Who can understand why my brain works the way it does, but this story was worth the cost of the anthology.

Anna has been physically beaten down, yet despite everything, her spirit has not yet be broken. But not for a lack for trying.

What I found particularly fascinating was what we discovered to be the eventual reason for the situation in Chicago. Some things cannot be forgiven, but sometimes they can be understood. She did a very good job of that with this story.

Although this story is a prequel to Cry Wolf, everything is resolved, and you do not need any prior knowledge of any other characters to enjoy the tale. Very good and very enjoyable.

...

So I recommend On the Prowl with reservations. The first two stories are very good. The fourth was little else but boinking, and the third story was a simply mess. With magical boinking. I’d say get it for the first two stories, and then pretend that the last two stories are part of some other anthology entirely and completely unrelated to the first two stories.
Rating: 6/10

Strange Brew (2009) edited by P.N. Elrod

Strange-BrewI love short story collections. They’re a way to discover new authors, visit with favorite characters, and to be honest I just enjoy short stories. Now if you like short stories, you eventually learn that a lot of collections are not worth buying, but there are certain authors that will cause me to buy an anthology on sight. This collection has several of those authors: Patricia Briggs, Jim Butcher, and Charlaine Harris.

...

Patricia Brigg’s story “Seeing Eye” was one of my favorites. It’s set in the same world as her Mercy Thompson series, but other than a mention of the Marrock, none of the characters from that series appear. Which is a good thing, since as I noticed with some of the other stories, if you’re not familiar with the characters in the series, short stories can fail miserably at times. This one does not. Moira is a witch–a good witch–who has made sacrifices for her power. She is very unhappy when her doorbell rings in the middle of the night, with a werewolf demanding she help him recover her brother. This story does feel like it may want to be larger, with these characters continuing.

...

What I thought was interesting was several of the stories reached back into mythology for parts of their stories, which I really enjoyed (although I didn’t need all the explanation that was given). If you think you might be interested in reading supernatural fantasy, this anthology would be a good place to sample some stories.
Rating: 8/10

Re-Read: July 2014

This is a re-read, and as such, I skipped the stories I didn’t like or wasn’t in the mood for.

Seeing Eye by Patricia Briggs was the reason I picked up the anthology to re-read. I love Patricia Briggs’ short stories. This story does not have any of her usual characters, but is set in her existing world where werewolves and witches are real. Moira is a witch who is looking for revenge. Tom has been sent to her because his brother has been taken by the person upon whom Moira has sworn vengeance. I liked both Moira and Tom, and quite enjoyed this story, but then I can’t think of one of Patricia Briggs’ short stories that hasn’t been excellent.

...

I love anthologies, but I wish that more collections were edited for quality short stories, rather than to get as many names on the cover–regardless of whether those authors are good at writing short stories and novellas.
Rating: 7/10

Published by St. Martin’s Griffin

The Best Paranormal Crime Stories Ever Told (2010) edited by Martin H. Greenberg & John Helfers

I wouldn’t say the best necessarily, but it’s not a bad selection of stories. And the fact that I got to read it for free probably helped.

Appetite for Murder - Simon R. Green
Star of David - Patricia Briggs
If Vanity Doesn't Kill Me - Michael Stackpole
Grave-Robbed - P.N. Elrod
The Judgement - Anne Perry
Surprise Special Guest Appearance by... - Carole Nelson Douglas
Occupational Hazard - Mike Resnick
She's Not There - Steve Perry
Hostile Takeover - Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Doppelgangster - Laura Resnick
The Necromancer's Apprentice - Lillian Stewart Carl
The Night of their Lives - Max Allen Collins
Road Dogs - Norman Partridge
Ninja Rats on Harleys - Elizabeth A. Vaughan
Stalked - Kelley Armstrong
Corpse Vision - Kristine Kathryn Rusch
The Unicron Hunt - Michelle West

...

Patricia Briggs‘ story, “Star of David” is set in the same world as her Mercy Thompson series, but as with Simon R Green’s story, does not feature the main characters from that series, and again, works as a very good introduction to her world. Stella helps place kids in foster homes, and when it’s reported that one boy she’s placed has attacked his foster parents, she thinks something is wrong, and turns to someone she said she wouldn’t call, to help he resolve the problem.

...

There were a couple other stories in the collection, but I didn’t love or hate them, so all in all, this was a pretty strong collection.
Rating: 8/10

Published by Skyhorse Publishing

Naked City (2011) edited by Ellen Datlow

This collection of urban fantasy stories has several of my favorite authors, so it was a no-brainer to get. The bad thing is that I’ve been reading this collection for several months, so I now have no idea what the stories at the start of the anthology were about, which is dangerous, because it means I may end up accidentally rereading several of them.

...

Patricia Briggs story “Fairy Gifts” is a vampire story, but it’s not one of those vampire stories. It’s of a boy who was forced to become a vampire, and more.

...

Although there were several stories I didn’t care for, I believe that was more a matter of personal taste than quality. And the stories I did like, I liked very much.
Rating: 8/10

Published by St. Martin’s Griffin

Down These Strange Streets (2011) edited by Gardner Dozois and George R. R. Martin

If you look at the list of authors above, you’ll immediately see why I read this series. There are some of my favorite authors here–many of whom write short stories I tend to love. And surprisingly, I loved most of these stories, especially a few by authors I haven’t particularly read before.

Death by Dahlia - Charlaine Harris
The Bleeding Shadow - Joe R. Lansdale
Hungry Heart - Simon R. Green
Styx and Stones - Steven Saylor
Pain and Suffering - S.M. Stirling
It’s Still the Same Old Story - Carrie Vaughn
The Lady Is a Screamer - Conn Iggulden
Hellbender- Laurie R. King
Shadow Thieves - Glen Cook
No Mystery, No Miracle - Melinda Snodgrass
The Difference Between a Puzzle and a Mystery - M.L.N. Hanover
The Curious Affair of the Deodand - Lisa Tuttle
Lord John and the Plague of Zombies - Diana Gabaldon
Beware the Snake - John Maddox Roberts
In Red, With Pearls - Patricia Briggs
The Adakian Eagle - Bradley Denton

...

“In Red, with Pearls” by Patricia Briggs is set in the world of Mercy Thompson and features two characters from that series, Kyle and Warren, that I very much like, so I’m glad to see them get their own story. Kyle is a human lawyer. Warren is his werewolf partner who has just started working as a PI for Kyle’s firm. When a zombie shows up looking for Kyle, they have to call in Elizaveta to both clean up the mess and help them figure out what the hell is happening. Here’s hoping for more stories about Kyle and Warren,

...

All in all, I found this to be a fabulous anthology, and I highly recommend almost all the stories I read–even the ones I didn’t love were, for the most part, interesting.
Rating: 9/10

Published by Penguin

Happily Ever After (2011) edited by John Klima

Happily Ever AfterNot sure how I missed this when I first came out, but this anthology is full of things I love: authors whose books I love, stories based on folk and fairy tales–lovely!

The only thing I didn’t like, is I wish the anthology hadn’t ended on such a dark and depressing story.

Mind you, the dark and depressing stories were good–very good–but these tales ran very true to the original stories, with a not insignificant amount of rape and incest and general horribleness. Just like the original tales.

But there’s also a good amount of humor as well, and I just wished the collection had ended with one of the funnier stories.

...

I usually love Patricia Briggs‘ stories, and “The Price” was no exception. It took me a bit to figure out which story it was borrowing from, but once I figured it out, it was quite lovely.

...

Please note, as previously mentioned, the stories have rape and incest and lots and lots of sex in addition to evil stepmothers and other such killers.

There were also a fair number of very dark and very depressing tales that were very good, but that I didn’t enjoy at all.
Rating:8/10

Published by Night Shade Books

Home Improvement: Undead Edition (2011) edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner

As with most anthologies, there are stories here I really liked, and some that I found to be just okay. What was unusual was that there were some stories that I actually strongly disliked.

“Gray” by Patricia Briggs isn’t a Mercy Thompson story, but is set her her world. A vampire returns to Chicago, to the home where she once lived. I quite liked this story. It stands on its own outside of the Mercy books, and is interesting in its own right. Vampires tend to be minor characters in the Mercy series, but I quite like her vampire mythology, and have very much enjoyed the short stories she’s written that have been about vampires. This is one of my favorites.

...

All in all, an okay collection, but I’m not sure why it’s been so expensive for so long, and if I could have gotten the Patricia Briggs story solo (I really do enjoy her short stories), I’m not sure I’d necessarily haven bothered with it.
Rating: 6/10

Published by Ace

Weird Detectives: Recent Investigations (2013) edited by Paula Guran

weird-detectives-recent-investigationsThis is a collection of short stories previously published elsewhere, so I’d already read several of these stories. But there were several I had not, and several of the ones I’d read before were well worth reading again.

This book has been sitting around for awhile, waiting to be read, primarily because I got it in trade paperback, and it’s huge and heavy–just the kind of book I hate reading. Too heavy and too bulky for comfortable reading. But the stories drew me in and didn’t let me go. (Though the book itself was why I lacked patience for stories I’d recently read or didn’t catch my interest immediately.)

“The Key” by Ilsa J. Blick
“The Nightside, Needless to Say” by Simon R. Green
“The Adakian Eagle” by Bradley Denton
“Love Hurts” by Jim Butcher
“The Case of Death and Honey” by Neil Gaiman
“Cryptic Coloration” by Elizabeth Bear
“The Necromancer’s Apprentice” by Lillian Stewart Carl
“The Case of the Stalking Shadow” by Joe R. Lansdale
“Hecate’s Golden Eye” by P.N. Elrod
“Defining Shadows” by Carrie Vaughn
“Mortal Bait” by Richard Bowes
“Star of David” by Patricia Briggs
“Imposters” by Sarah Monette
“Deal Breaker” by Justin Gustainis
“Swing Shift” by Dana Cameron
“The Beast of Glamis” by William Meikle
“Signatures of the Dead” by Faith Hunter
“Like a Part of the Family” by Jonathan Maberry
“Fox Tails” by Richard Parks
“Death by Dahlia” by Charlaine Harris
“Sherlock Holmes and the Diving Bell” by Simon Clark
“See Me” by Tanya Huff
“The Maltese Unicorn” by Caitlín R. Kiernan

Initially, I was just going to flip through and read stories by authors I love, but then I ended up just reading straight through. Having no patience, if I story didn’t immediately grab hold, I didn’t finish it, and if I hadn’t thoroughly enjoyed it the first time (or had read the story very recently), I didn’t give it a second read.

...

“Star of David” by Patricia Briggs was a story that seemed to be set in Mercy Thompsons’ world, but contains none of the characters from that series. This is another story I’d read previously, but one that I very much enjoyed re-reading. The main character is a werewolf who is estranged from his daughter. I really liked this story.

He thought you had to be bleeding someplace to hurt this badly.

Yeah. That’s harsh and true.

...

As I said, this contained a lot of stories I’d read previously, but they are for the most part good stories, so if you don’t have the original anthologies, this would be well worth getting.
Rating: 8/10

Magic City: Recent Spells (2014) edited by Paula Guran

Magic-City-Recent-Spells

Table of Contents
“Street Wizard” by Simon R. Green
“Paranormal Romance” by Christopher Barzak
“Grand Central Park” by Delia Sherman
“Spellcaster 2.0” by Jonathan Maberry
“Wallamelon” by Nisi Shawl
“-30-” by Caitlín R. Kiernan
“Seeing Eye” by Patricia Briggs
“Stone Man” by Nancy Kress
“In the Stacks” by Scott Lynch
“A Voice Like a Hole” by Catherynne M. Valente
“The Arcane Art of Misdirection” by Carrie Vaughn
“Thief of Precious Things” by A.C. Wise
“The Land of Heart’s Desire” by Holly Black
“Snake Charmer” by Amanda Downum
“The Slaughtered Lamb” by Elizabeth Bear
“The Woman Who Walked with Dogs” by Mary Rosenblum
“Words” by Angela Slatter
“Dog Boys” by Charles de Lint
“Alchemy” by Lucy Sussex
“Curses” by Jim Butcher
“De la Tierra” by Emma Bull
“Stray Magic” by Diana Peterfreund
“Kabu Kabu” by Nnedi Okorafor
“Pearlywhite” by Mark Laidlaw & John Shirley

...

“Seeing Eye” by Patricia Briggs is another story I’d read before, and actually recently re-read, because it stuck in my mind.

...

All in all this is a marvelous collection, that I highly recommend.
Rating: 8.5/10

Published by Prime Books

A Fantastic Holiday Season: The Gift of Stories (2014) edited by Kevin J. Anderson & Kieth J. Olexa

Fantastic Holiday SeasonI picked this collection up solely for the Patricia Briggs story, but once I saw some of the other authors, read through the stories that interested me (but skipped the ones that didn’t grab me after a page or two).

“Naughty & Nice” by Kevin J. Anderson
“Close Knit” by Nina Kirki Hoffman
“Astronaut Nick” by Brad R. Torgersen
“The Longest Night” by Mercedes Lackey
“Jimmy Krinklepot and the White Rebels of Hayberry” by Quincy J. Allen
“Midnight Trains” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
“A Christmas Feast” by Jonathan Maberry
“A World Done In by Great Granny’s Grateful Pie” by Ken Scholes
“Santa’s Mortuary” by Heather Graham
“Yes, Virginia2097c, There is a Santa Claus” by Sam Knight
“Christmas Eve at Harvey Wallbanger’s” by Mike Resnick
“The Atmosphere for Miracles” by David Boop
“A Sufficiently Advanced Christmas” by Eric James Stone
“Unappreciated Gifts” by Patricia Briggs

...

“Unappreciated Gifts” by Patricia Briggs is the story I bought the anthology for, and I’ve actually read it multiple times. Partially because Asil is one of my favorite characters, and partially because it’s fun.

When packing, he had briefly considered an outfit he’d saved from the rococo era. The silver-blue looked particularly good on him and the fabric looked as though it had been manufactured yesterday instead of nearly three hundred years ago. But, in keeping with the style of the era, it made him appear a little pot-bellied. It hadn’t bothered him at the time, but his tastes had changed. He also had no inclination to wear a powdered wig.

Who a man’s friends are, says a lot about him. She knew who and what I was— and still tried to save you from me. She is brave and loyal. No one needs to apologize for such a friend.”

I really love appearances by Asil.

This is a decent collection with something for everything, even if all the stories don’t appeal to everyone.
Rating: 8/10

Published by WordFire Press

Unappreciated Gifts I picked up this anthology solely for this story by Patricia Briggs. It's an Asil story (from Mercy Thompson's world) and I do like Asil, who is a complicated and fascinating character.

Someone in the pack has set up Asil on five blind dates, with bets going around that Asil either won't go on the dates, or that the dates will fail miserably.

* A successful date is one in which a) neither party runs screaming into the night b) there are no dead bodies at the end of it and c) lasts longer than two hours— at least an hour and a half of which is spent with your date— which is an hour and fifty minutes longer than we expect any date of yours to last.

But Asil is complicated (and vain) as well the person setting up the dates knows.

He looked in the mirror and regretted that his hair was cut short. Properly he should have a mane of curls to balance the lace, but he looked magnificent, anyway.

The date, however, is completely unexpected.

Trace and his girlfriend apparently thought it was a good idea one day while they were drunk.”

“They exchanged emails with people pretending to be me for two weeks,” Asil said dryly. “Were they drunk the whole time?”

“Them? Who knows, it’s possible.”

This as a lovely story, and it was nice to take a deeper look at Asil.

At some point, I will hopefully read the rest of the stories in this anthology.

Published by WordFire Press

 

 

Patricia Briggs' website