Night Broken (Mercy Thompson) by Patricia Briggs
|Night Broken (Mercy Thompson) by Patricia Briggs|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: The latest adventure for Mercy the mechanic and the werewolf family she married into. The balance of domestic detail and sheer fantasy threat shows this to be one of the more successful urban fantasy volumes available.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 352||Date: March 2014|
Phew. That's the sound of relief I gave when I found this book, the eighth in this lengthy genre series, was on form. As the quality had hardly ever dipped in the past you might be wondering why I sounded particularly anxious this time. Well, book seven was that dip, and this time round things have changed – for the first time the British market gets a hardback. But we've not jumped the shark. If anything, the fantasy side of this series is following on from book six – River Marked and the fae implement that was so much a feature of that book is being requested by a dangerously powerful character. But the urban fantasy side of this series is not without its dangerous characters – as Mercy is forced to bring the worried, frantic yet exceedingly manipulative figure of her husband's first wife into the shelter of their household…
Again, that might sound like cause for alarm, but is easily assuaged. There is no problem in the hands of this author for the personal politics and family warfare of Mercy's household being to the fore. She, if it needs saying, is a shapeshifter with growing powers of magic and kinship with her coyote form; her husband Adam is the prime werewolf in the area, and the status, bearing and power of everyone in the household is constantly on a knife-edge. And neither is that anything like the real story – not only is there the issue for Mercy of the fae wanting his walking stick back, there is the very real and very dangerous reason for Adam's ex seeking shelter with them.
It still feels a little odd to be holding a hardback Mercy Thompson book, however. I credit the decision for giving the series the prestige it deserves – this is a well-loved franchise, and even after all this time I can't see any reasons to quibble about it seeming nowhere near ending. But by doing it now it seems to be suggesting this is a reasonable place to start, when I can't see it as being as a particularly easy ride for the newcomer. The series is, and has always been, exceedingly rich, in the balance of power throughout society of witches, fae, vampires, werewolves, humans – and others. Too many people could be too disadvantaged if they hoped to absorb it all. It's a completely realised world, and that once again includes the working life and domestic details of Mercy's narration – not for nothing does the opening paragraph feature her doing the washing up. That balance of mundane and much more exotic is spot on once more here, as the 'real life' detail feeds into the fantasy adventure plot and vice versa.
As a result, quibbles are very minor. Seeing as we here didn't review book seven, Frost Burned, I'll compare the two to prove my case. That had a brilliant set-up, a mediocre middle that felt eminently disposable, before something much more typically riveting to close. This book has more of the slow-build, although it is still quite early on when we learn of the threat. This time round, however, the execution of the author matches her ambition, there is no lapse or ignoring of relevant characters, and a fluid, much more sustained approach to a conclusion that ties just enough up. Yes, once again, you could justifiably say Mercy doesn't do enough to defeat the big bad, but that seems routine for her stories now she's married. This is the Mercy Thompson series after all, and as is often pointed out here, that's no longer her surname. But that change can be ignored, as can the initial change in publishing format. This is a Patty Briggs book and that does tend to mean sheer quality and well-thought-through fun, and that's once more what she's offered.
I must thank the publisher for my review copy.
You can read more book reviews or buy Night Broken (Mercy Thompson) by Patricia Briggs at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Night Broken (Mercy Thompson) by Patricia Briggs at Amazon.com.
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