I seldom review books – I’m just too darned picky. But I love Patricia Briggs‘ Mercedes Thompson series. Last night I read the third in the series – Iron Kissed. For those not familiar with Ms. Briggs’ world, VW mechanic Mercedes Thompson is a walker – she has the ability to shift into the shape of a coyote. She’s not got special healing powers, she’s not the leader of her pack, she doesn’t have any magic about her – that you know of, though things are gradually being revealed through the series that Mercy has some special abilities that even she doesn’t realize – mainly by being unaffected by the other creatures in our world. Such as vampires. And werewolves. And Fae. Which gives her a power over them that leaves her in a very unique position. Here’s a description from Amazon, but it’s wrong – the two werewolves aren’t her lovers – yet. Nor does she work for her mentor anymore – she bought his garage for him years before when he revealed what he was. Plus he isn’t arrested for killing a citizen of the fae – he’s arrested for killing a human who was a guard at the gates to the reservation.
Shape-shifter Mercy Thompson has a complex life, juggling two werewolf lovers and a job working for a fae mechanic; things get even more hectic when her boss and mentor is arrested for killing a citizen of the fae reservation. As the fae seem content to let him rot, Thompson takes it on herself to clear her friend’s name, beginning a lone-wolf investigation that may cost her life. Briggs’s third novel featuring Thompson (after Blood Bound) is another top-notch paranormal mystery; her well-balanced contemporary world, where humans live uneasily among werewolves and fae, is still a believably lived-in world; the ever-present threat of government legislation against nonhumans (though familiar to X-Men fans) adds weight to her paranormal elements, and thoughtfully researched mythology adds rich detail. Thompson is a sharp, strong heroine and her lycanthropic love triangle is honest and steamy. Briggs never shies from difficult material, and she moves effortlessly from werewolf pack psychology to human legal proceedings, making this a tense, nimble, crowd-pleasing page-turner.
Patricia Briggs has created a wonderfully in-depth world mingling the paranormal with the day to day mundane chores. Because of the advances in technology, twenty years before, the Fae – fairies and other creatures were forced to reveal themselves to the humans and found themselves placed in reserves while the humans try to decide how they should deal with these strange folk. In the last book, Blood Bound the Werewolves were slowly revealing themselves – not everyone, but a few. Including the Alpha of the area, Adam Hauptman who has declared Mercy his mate – though Mercy thinks it’s only a political gambit to keep her alive. Coyotes and wolves – well, they don’t get along in the same territory usually.
In Iron Kissed Mercy’s friend and former teacher, Siebold Adelbertsmiter – a fae metalworker who calls himself a Gremlin – is accused of the murder of a human guard. Mercedes knows he’s innocent and sets out to help prove it, even when he doesn’t want her help. During her quest, she finds herself at odds with the Grey Lords who are quite happy to have a fall guy to take the blame for them.
Add to that, she’s divided between two love interests – Samuel Cornick, the son of the Alpha of all the Werewolves, and an old flame of hers, and Adam. But if she doesn’t choose soon, someone’s going to get killed as the two Dominant wolves vie for her heart. Throw in a Selkie, a Findeal (there’s no way I could explain what he is), a Carrion Crow and a whole bunch of other Fae folk, add to the mix an anti-Fae group of humans, and Mercy’s in for a rough time.
There’s one scene between Adam and Ben that is so moving that I had tears running down my face. Ben – one of Adam’s pack whom Mercy has been wary of in the last two books – shows an incredible insight into why Mercy is the way she is, and why she’s feeling the way she’s feeling after a particular event. And as part of it, you get a glimpse into Ben’s character that just made me fall in love with him.
I loved the book, but I found one thing to nit pick at — shortly after that wonderful scene, Patricia felt the need – and I can’t figure out why – to add another scene between Mercy, the Findeal and Zee that just didn’t work for me. I don’t want to give away spoilers, but to me the entire scene could have been cut. The only reason it’s there, that I can think of, is she wanted to reveal Zee without his ‘glamour’ (the magic the Fae use to disguise their real looks). It just seemed gratuitous and unnecessary. But the rest of the book rocked, so it’s really a small point.
A lot of times I find that series often grow stale after a while – either the author grows weary of their characters, or they’re being pressured to ‘get that next book out.’ But I’m thrilled to say that each book in this series seem stronger, better. And now I’m really looking forward to book 4 – Bone Crossed. Which means I have to wait until February 2009. But that’s okay, because Patricia’s released another book following Charles and Anna – another couple from a story she wrote called Alpha and Omega from the anthology On the Prowl. Guess what I’m heading down to Chapters to buy with a gift card I got for my birthday?