Plot Type: Urban Fantasy (UF)
"Star of David" (short story in Wolfsbane & Mistletoe and Shifting Shadows anthologies)
"Roses in Winter" (short story in Shifting Shadows anthology)
MOON CALLED Graphic Novel Series:
1. Briggs includes two valuable sources of information that will help you manage the huge cast of characters and the all-new setting: a map of Prague at the beginning of the book and an annotated "Cast of Characters" section at the end. Believe it or not, ALL of the characters listed here appear in the book.
2. Additionally, be sure to heed Briggs's cautionary "Dear Reader" note: "For the best reading experience please pay attention to Mercy's notes at the beginning of each chapter. Fair warning—the time line is not completely linear." This gets to be particularly important about a third of the way into the book, beginning with chapter 6, where Mercy warns, "So from now on, the timing between my part of the story and Adam's gets tricky and you'll have to pay attention." Each chapter takes the perspective of either Mercy or Adam, but since they are describing events that occur congruently and because the two are separated for almost the entire book, the events they narrate necessarily appear slightly out of order. Don't worry, Briggs is such a talented writer that all of the action flows very smoothly. As you read the book, always keep in mind that even in Adam's chapters, the introductory note is written in Mercy's voice.In chapter one, a powerful European vampire master named Iacopo Bonarata (aka Lord of Night) kidnaps Mercy (nearly killing her in the process) and spirits her off to Milan, Italy. In her chapters, Mercy describes the experience and takes us with her as she escapes from Bonarata and eventually winds up in Prague, only to find herself in an equally dangerous situation with an entirely different enemy. Here, Mercy describes her situation after her escape from Bonarata: "I couldn't reach Adam or the pack through the various bonds I had to them...I was in the belly of a bus in Italy, alone, naked and penniless. Also without a passport. In a place that a coyote was likely to be noticed because coyotes aren't exactly native to Europe. I thought a little more and added 'can't speak the language.' "
In chapter two, Adam gets blasted through his mate bond when Mercy is injured and taken. In his chapters, Adam describes the scene of the kidnapping and then takes us with him and his allies as they travel to Milan to confront Bonarata and get Mercy back.
Unfortunately for Mercy and Adam, the mate bond does not work when they are far away from one another. Even when Adam gets to Milan (by which time Mercy is in Prague), he is traveling with only one member of his pack, so there is not enough pack power to strengthen the bond. Thus the title: Silence Fallen—because although Adam and Mercy can feel (barely) that the bond is still there, they cannot use it to communicate. Adam has his allies, but Mercy is all alone for the first time since she found her home—and her safe space—with Adam and his pack. Mercy's isolation definitely plays a big emotional part in this story as she reflects on her need to be near Adam...always. Here's Mercy: "I'd grown used to feeling safe again, ever since Adam and I had become a couple. Okay, vampires, trolls, and a host of other villains...had tried to kill me on a fairly regular basis, but Adam had my back. I hadn't realized how much I craved it until it was gone. Again."
Even though she is alone, Mercy is a survivor, so she makes the best of her bad situation and succeeds in escaping from her kidnappers, finding a way to get far away from Italy, track down an ally in Prague, and communicate (very briefly) with Adam. But she also finds herself in the middle of a major vampire rebellion that puts her life at risk. And just to add more danger and drama to the story, an ancient being seeks her out and wants to make a bargain.
This is a triumph of a novel that never slows down, not for a moment. The action is truly compelling even though there is very little violence (only the kidnapping in chapter one and some fighting in the suspense-filled final chapters). But since vampires are involved all the way through the book, a threatening cloud of danger hangs over every scene, particularly the tense, antagonistic dialogues involving Bonarata, Adam, and Marsilia.
Mercy and Adam narrate the events with clarity and emotion. Both reflect on their relationship and what it means to their lives, but none of their interior monologues are sappy or repetitive or overly anguished. These are two intelligent, courageous people who are deeply committed to one another and will do what they have to do to reunite.
As part of Adam and Mercy's separate narratives, we learn even more details about Mercy's world: for example, the truth about Zack, the pack's submissive wolf; the power of the bond between Stefan and Mercy; and the long and complicated history that Stefan, Wulfe, and Marsilia share with Bonarata.
Along with her slightly non-linear story telling, Briggs throws in a few "Aha!" twists that are completely unexpected (and delightful). Even if you think that Mercy and/or Adam have figured out what's going on (with Mercy's kidnapping, with her trip to Prague, with Bonarata's shenanigans), each of the final chapters serves up a new surprise or two. This is Briggs at her finest, so it's a definite must-read experience. I actually read this novel in one day—just couldn't put it down (even skipped lunch!).
Click HERE to read or listen to an excerpt from this novel on its Amazon.com page by clicking on the cover art for print or on the "Listen" icon for audio.
FULL DISCLOSURE: My review of Silence Fallen is based on an electronic advance reading copy (ARC) of the book that I received from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I received no promotional or monetary rewards, and the opinions in this review are strictly my own.
Living in the Pacific Northwest, Mercedes “Mercy” Thompson is a Native American “walker” who can shift at will into coyote form. In a feminist twist, she owns her own garage where she repairs mostly German cars. In this world, paranormal beings are gradually making themselves known to the public, beginning with the lesser creatures (e.g., brownies, gremlins, elves, garden sprites) and gradually moving to the greater beings (e.g., werewolves). Vampires are still hidden from public knowledge.
Briggs' web site has a number of pages devoted to this series. Click HERE to go to "Mercy's World," a source of information for the MERCY THOMPSON and ALPHA & OMEGA series. That page includes a link to a character list. Click HERE to go to the “Books” page of Briggs’ web site, where you can click on the cover art of any of her books to link with author’s comments, maps matching each novel’s location, and excerpts.
NOVEL 6: River Marked
Brief scenes at the beginning and the end of the book bring us up to date on Stefan's story as he tries to recover from his vampire queen's treachery in the previous book, but the bulk of the story takes place at an idyllic campground on the scenic Columbia River—no vampires, no pack members, just Adam and Mercy trying (unsuccessfully) to have some peaceful, romantic moments.
Mercy's adventures in River Marked bring her in contact with her Native American heritage as she finds answers to her questions about her mysterious biological father. She also gets to meet some fellow "walkers." Unfortunately, she also sustains some serious battle injuries as well.
NOVEL 7: Frost Burned
As this book opens, the human world is still coming to grips with the fact that werewolves and the fae actually exist. After the catastrophic events that followed a fae's killing of a U.S. Senator's son (he really deserved it!), most of the fae have gone into hiding in their own realm. That leaves the werewolves to take the brunt of the sometimes violent actions of human bigots, many of whom have found a home in the Combined Nonhuman and Transhuman Relations Provisors (aka CANTRIP), which is a government organization that is supposed to be working towards better relations between supernaturals and humans. Unfortunately, CANTRIP has become a refuge for humans who hate supernaturals with a passion.
As this story begins, it's the night after Thanksgiving, and Mercy and her step-daughter, Jesse, are out hitting the Black Friday sales when they have a minor traffic accident. When Mercy tries to contact Adam to pick them up, no one answers at the pack's house. In fact, she even gets a mysterious coded message from Bran that she interprets to mean that the wolves' phones are being tapped. Soon it is evident that Adam and the rest of the pack have been silver-drugged and kidnapped—taken down by mercenaries claiming to be government agents. The rest of the plot involves Mercy's attempts to find and rescue her man and her pack while trying to keep the few uncaptured pack members safe, including Jesse.
This is a terrific story, as usual. Briggs spins out a compelling, action-filled plot with effortless ease. Each time you think that a resolution is near, though, something else comes up to complicate the situation. Most of the story is told from Mercy's point of view, but we do have a few scattered scenes from Adam's viewpoint as he does what he has to do to escape, but worries about his soul as he is forced to take some horrific actions. This series gets better and better as the supernaturals deal with human bigotry while trying to keep peace within their own world. Mercy is a topnotch UF heroine: brave, intelligent, and independent; fully in love with her man and completely devoted to her pack. For me, this book is even stronger than the last one, which concentrated solely on Adam and Mercy and did not include much interaction with the always fascinating pack members. Along for the action-filled ride in this book are Tad, Zee, Kyle, Warren, Ben, Honey, Stefan, and Marsilia—always a treat to have the whole gang involved in the plot.
NOVEL 8: Night Broken
At first, Mercy believes that all she has to do is get through a few days with Christy in the house before Adam tracks down and threatens her stalker and then sends Christy back home to Eugene, Oregon. Unfortunately for everyone, Christy's stalker turns out to be an extremely powerful and dangerous supernatural being who REALLY wants Christy back, no matter how many people he has to kill to get her. Meanwhile, Christy takes over as if she is still the mistress of the house: cooking gourmet meals, insisting on having the bedroom right next to Adam and Mercy's, and even leaving her make-up and shampoo in Mercy's bathroom (although Mercy does get her back for that little trick).
Could things get worse? Oh yes, they could. On the very night that Christy calls, Mercy is awakened by a fae Gray Lord named Gwyn ap Lugh (aka Alistair Beauclaire). Beauclaire/Lugh is the fae who declared the fae to be independent from the U.S., forcing them to seek safety in Fairyland (aka the Ronald Wilson Reagan Fae Reservation). Lugh's father was the maker of the walking stick that seems to have adopted Mercy in the past few novels until she handed it over to Coyote for safekeeping. Now, Lugh wants the walking stick back, and he gives Mercy only one week to track down Coyote and get the stick. It is a tribute to Briggs' masterful plotting that she creates these two diverse story lines and then skillfully and effortlessly weaves them together into a page-turning, can't-put-it-down supernatural mystery.
The situation with Christy's stalker gets worse and worse. He burns down Christy's condo (paid for by Adam) and then heads for Seattle, where he does some serial killing and eventually attacks Mercy in her garage. This brings the nasty, bigoted agents from the Combined Nonhuman and Transhuman Relations Provisors (aka CANTRIP) into the case, always an uncomfortable experience for the supernaturals. In the inevitable showdown scene at the end, Mercy and her allies stand up to the monster, laying their lives on the line to save Seattle (and Christy). The only clue I'll provide about the identity of the stalker is to say that I was amazed to learn that in the early 1700s, Spain sent families of Canary Islanders to settle the area that is now San Antonio, Texas. I'm embarrassed to say that even though I was a history major in college, I never knew that these Canary Islanders were part of the first regular organized civil government in Texas. Click HERE to read more about the connection between San Antonio and the Canary Islands.
Here's what Briggs says about her villain in Night Broken: "I’ve had a lot of requests for supernatural beings outside of the mythology of Europe and Asia. The one I picked for Night Broken is, at the very least, not one of the more commonly found creatures and I had a lot of fun doing research for him—not something I usually have to do a lot of when dealing with more Celtic/European or Native American supernatural creatures. I also read a lot of history of an area of the world I haven’t explored much. So I was a happy camper when I set out to write this—and the book just got more and more fun as I wrote."
Once again, Briggs provides us with well-drawn characters, each of whom has an interesting back story that adds depth to the plot. In this book, Mercy meets another Coyote skin walker, Gary Laughing Dog, who helps her contact and deal with Coyote. Coyote himself makes several appearances, sometimes helping and sometimes just interfering. Mercy also gets to know Honey better and is surprised to find that she is an ally. Other characters who play key roles are Tad, Warren, Kyle, Jesse, and the vampire, Stefan, who has been keeping a big secret from Mercy.
Briggs has a great time with the Christy-Mercy situation. With Christy living in the house, Mercy has to walk a fine line. She can either submit to Christy's manipulations and look weak in front of her pack, or she can confront Christy and look like a jealous shrew. Will Mercy be able to outwit and outplay Christy, or will Christy manage to turn the pack against Mercy?
This series just keeps getting better and better, so you won't want to miss reading this novel. Towards the end, we get a clue that Mercy may have to intervene in some problems that Tad is having in Fairyland, and there may be some further repercussions involving her situation with Stefan. Not to mention that Christy is thinking of moving back to Seattle. Click HERE to read a lengthy except from the beginning of Night Broken.
NOVEL 9: Fire Touched
Defying the most powerful werewolf in the country, the humans, and the fae, Mercy, Adam, and their pack choose to protect the boy no matter what the cost. But who will protect them from a boy who is fire touched?
|The Cable Bridge that the troll attacks|
After the battle, as Adam lies unconscious (or pretends to be unconscious), Mercy swears to protect a boy who was captured and tortured by the fae and is now on the run from them. When Mercy swears that protection oath, the magic walking stick begins to glow and heat up, especially when she finishes by saying, "Let the Gray Lords in their halls know that the Columbia Basin Pack holds these lands and grants sanctuary to whomever we choose." Mercy's oath comes back to haunt her and the pack throughout the book, although Adam and (eventually) the rest of the pack agree with her words. I'm guessing that this brief speech will contribute to the plots of future books because now, all sorts of supernaturals will feel that they can find sanctuary with Adam's CB pack. Not to mention its effect on the local vampire population.
Early on, there is a satisfying scene in which both Mercy and Adam FINALLY stand up to the whiney pack members (especially Mary Jo) who have been giving Mercy a hard time because she's "some dumb bimbo who seduced our Alpha and stumbled into a stupid magic trick that allowed her to become part of the pack. That she is a mistake. That she is a weakness." Throughout the past few books, I kept wondering whether Adam would ever open his eyes to Mercy's difficult situation and do something about it because it seemed very odd that he would let his pack members treat his mate so badly.
The "boy" Mercy swears to protect is Aiden, one of four human children kidnapped by the fae centuries ago and treated very badly. In sympathy, the children received elemental magical powers from Underhill, the sentient spirit that controls the fae lands. Unfortunately, Aiden is the only one of the four to survive. Aiden has the power to burn through any material with just a touch. Unfortunately, he doesn't have full control over his fire and keeps setting Adam's house on fire, making for some humorous fire-fighting scenes.
The fae want Aiden back for a number of reasons, one of which is that Underhill keeps them awake by sending dream messages that Aiden must be returned, so some of them send more monsters directly to Adam's house to kidnap the boy. Then the fae council—the Gray Lords—request a meeting in which they demand his return. The Lords are a typical bunch of feuding power-mad egotists who sneak around trying to grab up Aiden and his powers however they can. Eventually, Mercy, Adam, and Aiden are forced to go into Underhill to fulfill the terms of a contract they make with two of the Gray Lords. Betrayal and retribution follow.
Although this is another solid addition to the series, I have to admit that it rambles a bit and that I sometimes had a hard time understanding the mythology of Underhill. If you're a fan of the series, this is a must-read novel because it signals the return of Zee and Tad from the fae realm and moves the fae story arc along several more steps. This is definitely not a stand-alone book. Even having read all of the previous books, I had to think hard to remember Zee and Tad's story line and the details of the fae vs. human situation. Remember, it's been two years since the last MERCY THOMPSON novel was published, so you might want to read my summaries and reviews of the previous books (below) to bring yourself up to date. Click HERE to read the first chapter of Fire Touched.
FULL DISCLOSURE: My review of Fire Touched is based on an electronic advance reading copy (ARC) of the book that I received from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I received no promotional or monetary rewards, and the opinions in this review are strictly my own.