Iron Kissed (Mercy Thompson) by Patricia Briggs

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Iron Kissed (Mercy Thompson) by Patricia Briggs

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Category: Fantasy
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: The third book has another adventure for Mercy, which soon leaves its sense of familiarity behind for a rollicking story. Thus is the trilogy back to the strong, recommendable heights of the first volume.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: August 2008
Publisher: Orbit
ISBN: 978-1841496856

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To state the obvious, there is more than a little trepidation involved in the art of book reviewing – added to the relief when a successfully enjoyable read is encountered. This series has provided me with both a pleasant and an unpleasant surprise, and so with the third book poised to either return to form or sink further into mediocrity, the sense of the unknown was greater.

Luckily, I can report there is no problem with this part three, and the relief that the series is back on track in such a fine way is equal to the pleasure provided by encountering it in the first place.

It has to be said that the doubts do carry with one over the first couple of chapters, as a strong sense of the routine seems to be present. Yet again some of the metahuman population that share Mercy's home towns call in a debt to her, involving unpleasant murders, and yet again she is forced to enter a tangled web of death and danger to satisfy the people she is beholden to.

With the knowledge this series is not ending with this latest, third volume, there is also the feeling that there will be a problem-by-numbers approach – we had the werewolves at the fore originally, then the vampires in the last book, and now it is Mercy's Germanic gremlin-type fae friend Zee getting a look in. He is sorting out a series of nasty fatalities, and asks for Mercy's help, despite the risk to her, but the chapters that follow of Mercy in her coyote form padding round murder scenes – and beyond – soon drop the déjà vu and are very enjoyable. They and other events certainly provide her with reasons to leave her human existence behind, and thus the character is used much more successfully than in book two.

Similarly, other flaws that were writ far too large last time round, have disappeared. The soapiness that drifted across the middle section regarding her love life, with her attractions shared between two werewolves, and that just clogged the book up with the unnecessary, is here much more sharply defined. Not only does it carry its lack of resolution much better, it also shows nicely the effect of it all on the adventure at hand.

And it is this mystery that is the major appeal of the book. Again, it is a gentle, certificate 12 read that will not make anyone cringe, but the more pleasant, feminised feel has if anything been lost in favour of the drama here. The cast list is not too huge for you to not guess the bad guys, but there is still a nicely strong sense of peril for Mercy, and mystery about what is going on. Subsidiary characters are drawn more engagingly than the prior volume, and tie themselves into the story more fully.

Also of appeal is the sense of Briggs writing of her world with more depth than before. Yes, we lose her vampire mythos, and only old details of werewolves are here, but with fae artefacts involved, and the very mystery of Zee's actual nature and existence, we are getting a stronger look at the depths of this fantasy world, and its creator. I was happy to see life in the fae reservations – something I flagged of potential note in reviewing book one.

If there was a place for improvement, it would surely lie in Briggs' slightly repetitive style. Mercy's first person narration can explain the relevance of a certain fact, truth or object on one page, and unfortunately tell someone else as dialogue the next. Such details are dropped in more than once quite often, and if there was a way for the very humanised Mercy to be a bit less human-sounding, then it might tighten things up.

But on the whole the relief was not of getting through the book as quickly as the pace and well-controlled mystery telling allowed, but of the series reverting to its original high standard. You could say the book feels a lot more like a mystery thriller as opposed to the fantasy horror of before, but that is no bad thing. With the second book drifting too much, this again feels like an author writing not to contract, but because she had a fine tale to tell. Blood Bound was regrettable and forgettable, but the bookending volumes are much better, and well worth a Bookbag recommendation. With the series rush-released a month apart in the UK as we play catch-up with the USA, before it gets expanded in 2009, we sit back with no little displeasure at the extended wait.

I would like to thank Orbit for the review copy they sent us.

Buy Iron Kissed (Mercy Thompson) by Patricia Briggs at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Iron Kissed (Mercy Thompson) by Patricia Briggs at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Iron Kissed (Mercy Thompson) by Patricia Briggs at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Iron Kissed (Mercy Thompson) by Patricia Briggs at Amazon.com.

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