I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
Mercy Thompson is a shapeshifter, a talent she inherited from her long-gone father. And she's never known any others of her kind. Until now. As Mercy comes to terms with this new information, an evil is stirring in the depths of the Columbia River. Something deadly is coming, facts are thin on the ground and Mercy feels ill at ease.
For me, this was a lull in the Mercy Thompson series. Too much lovey-dovey stuff for someone as completely unromantic as I am. There’s Mercy & Adam’s wedding (planned by other people, no less, and seeming to include much more fluff than someone of Mercy’s tastes would generally choose) and the resulting honeymoon. Of course, their honeymoon has been carefully choreographed by Uncle Mike and the Fae, steering them towards a potential trouble spot.
Trouble, however, is good in my books, because it gets us away from all of the “OMG, how much we love each other” and the “look how much sex we are having” stuff that seems to be necessary to engage the paranormal romance crowd. And make no mistake, I read some PNR, but I don’t enjoy it nearly as much as urban fantasy without all the PNR tropes. However, for a good story I will put up with it.
I did enjoy Mercy’s exploration of her own heritage and Native American mythology. I felt that Briggs was really happy and engaged while describing the landscape, the pictographs, and the history. I suspect, but don’t know, that the villain was something that Briggs made up, rather than a real creature from Native American tradition. I maybe wasn’t comfortable with the whole set up, but I could definitely see where it fulfilled its purpose in the series story arc.
I was also glad to see that our friendly neighbourhood vampire, Stefan, is back is a substantive way. I’ve missed Mr. Tall, Dark & Dangerous. Plus I’m much more comfortable with writers using the good old European folklore tropes—it feels so much less like cultural appropriation.
I am getting repetitive, but Mercy needs some women friends in the worst way possible. All the dudes are fine and dandy, but she needs a soul sister and a confidant who will have her back. I would have been so happy to have one of the Native characters introduced in the novel be a medicine woman. Entirely plausible, and highly desirable—someone who lives in the nearish area and could become that go-to female friend. But, we have to make do with a medicine man and his male apprentice instead, an opportunity bypassed.
Basically, I think this is book 6 and there was bound to be a “pause and regroup” book. Briggs has filled in some of the holes in Mercy’s past, accustomed the reader to Mercy & Adam’s new status as a married couple, and is in the process of pivoting to pursue a new book that is refocused on the familiar secondary characters again (at least I hope so).
A very pleasant evening’s reading.