Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Book 8 of Mercy Thompson
Publisher: Ace (March 11, 2014)
Author Information: Website
Mogsy's Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Mercy Thompson is a favorite urban fantasy of mine, one of the long-running series that I've kept up with NO MATTER WHAT. Clearly so much has changed in these books since the beginning, not least of all the marriage between Mercy and the werewolf Alpha Adam. I've always thought having the main character tie the knot was a gutsy but smart move -- after all, there's only so far you can take the romantic tension between Mercy and the men in her life, and I can appreciate a series that's not afraid to evolve.
As it happens, I've started enjoying these Mercy books so much more since she formed a mate bond with Adam and was subsequently integrated into the Columbia Basin pack, albeit to some dissent and opposition from the other wolves. Inviting a coyote shapeshifter into a den of werewolves was apparently quite the scandal! It leads to no end of conflict in these books, which is just the way I like it. It's hard to resist tuning in to each installment just to watch the fur fly, er...so to speak.
But wow, Night Broken really takes things to the next level. Let's just put it this way: there's the drama you think you know, and then there's the invite-your-ex-wife-to-live-with-you-and-your-new-wife drama featured in this book. Throughout this series, Mercy's faced all sorts of nasty things that go bump in the night, including evil vampires, overzealous fae, a river demon and now a volcano god in Night Broken. But Adam's ex-wife Christy might just give them all a run for their money.
I adore Mercy's character so much which is why in the end I still loved this book to bits, but I have to say I spent most of this book feeling awfully indignant. If Patricia Briggs had set out to make her readers squirm, then she was definitely successful. I wanted so badly to wring Christy's neck, and then maybe go beat up each and every one of wolves in the hopes of smacking some sense into their heads. Whatever respect I gained for Adam in the last book, I'm sorry to say I lost some of it again here. Alphas may have a natural instinct to protect those in need, but letting someone walk all over your wife is also NOT okay. And I wanted to shake Mercy too, for not fighting back earlier and just letting it all happen.
Ironically, Christy the mundane human may have seized the throne as the most loathsome antagonist of this entire series ever. It's not often that a fictional baddie can make me see red, but Christy managed to do it single-handedly. I resent her for rendering Mercy self-conscious and powerless to act in a lot of situations, and I also dislike the effect she seems to have on the rest of the pack. Christy doesn't have any supernatural powers, but she does possess the uncanny ability to manipulate others, and all the werewolves act as if they've taken a bunch of silly pills when they're around her. It's always rankled me how "pack magic" can sometimes override human common sense when it comes to the wolves, and Christy's the dangerous catalyst that makes many of them act out of character.
Despite my roiling emotions, I have to say Night Broken is my favorite Mercy Thompson book yet, simply due to the reactions it invoked from me. I'm mad at a few characters but certainly not mad at the novel, and when it comes to a ongoing series and eight books under my belt, at this point I'd gladly take stories with emotional impact over the same-old-same-old that leaves me cold. It's nice to see I can still be surprised. I would also love to see the return of Gary Laughingdog, Mercy's sort of half brother who was introduced in this book, and given how past characters in this series have a penchant for returning in later installments, things are looking good for me!
This one opened my eyes to how much I am invested in these characters, especially when it comes to Mercy; I felt anger and offense on her behalf even if she was too polite and courteous to show it. In a way, the ex-wife drama even overshadowed the main storyline involving the hunt for Christy's stalker (which was why she had to stay with Adam and Mercy in the first place) but in the end there's action aplenty to complement the social conflict, making this one hell of an entertaining book.
A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to Ace Books!