This is assuming you've read everything up through Bone Crossed and know who Mercy picked as a mate. If you haven't, then SPOILER ALERT! Anyway, here's my review of...
It's been a couple months since we left off from Bone Crossed and Mercy's still getting the hang of having a mate...and a pack. Since magic of any kind usually acts 'oddly' around her, things aren't going as smoothly as she thought they would. Adam assures her that he'll guide her, but their bond isn't working the way it should, and it's starting to get on her nerves.
Mercy is still living with Samuel in her own trailer. Partly because of the pack's general dislike of having a coyote as their Alpha's mate, and partly because she's still worried about Samuel. He's still holding up, better than he was in Blood Bound, but she can still sense that things aren't quite what they used to be.
With vampires being the star of the last book, the fae and werewolves seem to have gotten a bit jealous.
Mercy receives a phonecall from Tad, Zee's son, asking if she's still got that thing Phin gave her. If you'll think back to Iron Kissed, you'll recall that Mercy borrowed a book of fae stories from Phin when trying to help Zee clear his name. And if you don't, Mercy fills you in anyway.
So Mercy heads out to return the book, but has a little trouble finding Phin. He's not at his house and his shop is closed. Plus, there seem to be a lot of Fae interested in what she has to return. Interested enough for a little threatening.
If the Fae weren't scary enough, it doesn't help that the werewolves are acting a bit less friendly. Apparently some of the pack aren't afraid to act upon their dislike, going so far as to invade her mind and manipulate her actions. Adam is furious and assures her that he will find the culprits and protect her. That's all well and good, but not all her werewolf trouble comes from within the pack.
Samuel has hit the breaking point. After a botched suicide attempt, his wolf-side takes over for self-preservation. Now Mercy's faced with a tough decision. If she tells Adam or the Marrok about Sam's condition, it will mean putting him down. Wolves, without their human counterpart, are more prone to violent rampages. Sam seems to be holding out alright, but how long can he last? And can Mercy really put his life above others? Even her own?
Continuity of Style
This book is slower than the last. Of course, that's to be expected considering the last book had vampires trying to kill her. Still, the action is mostly tame, drawing on the characters' bonds rather than heart-pumping action, until about halfway through. Then the action starts to pick up.
If the other books were mysteries, I'd describe this one as a mystery/romance/thriller. There's really not enough of each aspect to place it in any genre, but there are snippets here and there of all of them: the mystery lies in figuring out about Phin and the fae book; there's more romance between Mercy and Adam; when the action does pick up, there's a slight thrill to the chase. Mostly, it's another urban fantasy book. Oh, and, yes, there is finally a sex scene.
Something new to this novel, however, is Mercy's predominant role as observer. Yes, she's the narrator and ultimately observes the events in all the books, but never before has she been so...passive. Though she was in the middle of all three main conflicts, she really didn't do much, herself, to resolve them. Only involved in two fights? Come on, Mercy!
A Couple Problems
First, my repeated complaint about how the series has gone into hardcover. Again, I'm a paperback purist, so I prefer all my books to be in mass-market paperback (the normal size, not the taller version that they've decided to come out with). Suddenly deciding that they'll make more money with hardcover in addition to paperback just ticks me off. Now I have to wait a year for it to come into my format.
However, I am assured that this is purely the publishing house's decision, not the author's, so I'll just have to live with it.
As you know, I re-read the previous four books before delving into this one. It was mostly because I enjoyed them, but partly because I wanted to make sure I remembered everything. Phin, for instance, probably wouldn't have been remembered so easily.
However, the Mercy series has a sister series called Alpha & Omega, staring Charles Cornick (Samuel's half-brother) and Anna Latham, a rare type of werewolf who exudes a calming presence instead of rage. I own the series (2 books) but haven't had a chance to read them yet.
Thus, I was a little angry that it was revealed that Charles and Anna had mated and married. It is suggested that Anna might be able to help Samuel with his problem, and she is referred to as his sister-in-law. Well, so much for that surprise.
What I Like
I have a tendency to be overly vocal about things I don't like, so I'm going to try my best (even though I'm a bit pessimistic due to illness) to vocalize the positives.
Mercy and the bunch are very true to form. There's nothing out of left-field in their actions or reactions. Sure, there is one convenient coincidence, but it's still believable. Mercy may be more out-of-action than normal, but that doesn't mean she's on the sidelines emotionally. She's invested in everything happening, and brings the reader right into the action. Sure, she may not be getting thrown around or ripped to shreds, but isn't it about time she get some healing done?
The story-flow works. I was a little concerned when I discovered that there were 3 major conflicts instead of just two, but they weave together so well that you don't really notice until it's all over. The fae conflict does take a backseat most of the time. However, it is often the action that causes the reaction in the other disputes. When the fae villain acts, the other conflicts react--forcing Mercy to deal with the aftermath rather than the main cause. Once that's all taken care of, she can then focus on the original problem. It's a bit messy to explain, and I'm sure it was a pain to execute, but it really does work masterfully.
Fans of the series will love the latest installment. Maybe not for its action, but definitely for its characters' journeys. There're a lot of changes made, especially with Mercy, Samuel and Adam, but also with many of the lesser characters. Though, as with all of the books, this one can stand on its own, you're left begging to know what comes next. I don't think February can get here fast enough.
Approximate Reading Time: 8 hours
In addition to the release of this book, which was awesome in and of itself, I also got to meet and hear the author! That's right, I listened to Patricia Briggs read an excerpt from Chapter 4 AND got two of my books signed! And where do you suppose this happened? Yeah, where else, but Powell's?
In addition to reading and signing, she also answered a few questions*:
The Mercy Series will have (at least) 7 books. The next book is called River Marked and is scheduled for release next February.
No, I don't think I'll be doing a cross-over with Mercy and Anna. Mercy's so dominant a character that Anna would fade into the background. They're both in the same universe, so there's always the possibility, but I don't think they'll be meeting anytime soon.
My first book, Masques, is being republished later this year with some much needed revision. So, for those of you who were unfortunate enough to read my first version, I'm sorry, but you'll have some perspective to find this one much better. And for those of you lucky enough to have missed it, I hope you enjoy! It is also being accompanied by a sequel, Wolfsbane.
Some authors have everything planned out down to the last detail before they start writing. Jim Butcher is one of those. Personally, if I know where a book is going, I'm pretty sure my readers, who are much smarter than I am, will figure it out too. My preference is to throw characters together in a room and see what happens. If I don't like it, I'll take one or two out and maybe put a different one in, until I get something that works.
*Paraphrased from what I can remember from 3 months ago.