Blood Bound (Mercy Thompson) by Patricia Briggs

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Blood Bound (Mercy Thompson) by Patricia Briggs

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Category: Fantasy
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: The return of our heroine with a much bigger challenge – a demonic vampire (or is it vampiric demon?), intent on raising hell and casualty figures. The novel side of the series, shifted toward the feminine, political and gentle, is sometimes overbearing, but the adventure ultimately gritty and satisfying enough.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: July 2008
Publisher: Orbit
ISBN: 978-1841496849

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There's nothing much I can teach you about being indebted to a vampire you don't already know, so let me instead use the example of our heroine Mercy. The vampire, Stefan, calls in his favour, and takes her as company to meet a fellow preternatural, in the form she can naturally, easily, adopt – that of a coyote. It's a bloody encounter, however, and one that carries an awful threat to the entire vampire race.

This is a world where Mercy the car mechanic can live next door to Alpha male werewolves, and other races of the non-human can integrate with varying degrees into society. All that is apart from the vampires – the only race yet to be outed as not one of us. And so when a horrifying series of killings seems on the cards, a most unusual and wary alliance of werewolf, vampire, and Mercy, must be formed. The were don't need adverse publicity from the blame on top of the customary hounding from humans they face anyway, and the vampires need help to keep things quiet.

The enemy, however, is not the common or garden vampire, but seems to be a powerful sorcerer, who adopted a demon into his character, and might or might not have lost control over that side of his entity before being turned vampiric. All points towards a most vicious, bloody denouement – which is to be relished. It's a little unfortunate that the spirit of the series if anything negates that relish.

I liked the first volume very much for being a vigorous yet genteel, slightly feminised werewolf story. I have no problem that the focus here is much more evenly split between the werewolves (including ones with designs on Mercy's love life) and the vampires, it is the other sides to the story's telling that I enjoyed last time, and that seemed slightly to get in the way of the grist of the adventure.

Take the minor scene in the middle, where Mercy must meet with the female vampire leader, and is forced into singing to a bar-full of fae. It's such a minor scene I can mention it with no problem about giving anything away, and such a minor scene it needn't be there. With so much well-written and well-considered detail elsewhere regarding so many balances of power, influence and control, this forced performance is not necessary. There is no cause to complain about any of the other characters returning from the first volume – either human or otherwise – it does leave a taste however that the middle third is more than a bit woolly.

Partly this is down to the weird decision by Patricia Briggs to have Mercy present at the forming of the quest – the need for the demonic vampire/ vampiric demon to be eliminated – and immediately sat at home mending her VWs instead of going on said quest. It's clear she will have to play a greater role in the drama, so why hold back?

Still, that is not to make you believe there is too great a problem with what we get partly in lieu of action. The sense of humour is a little lost on me – either being eminently ignorable or too forced when I did notice it, but the main character of Mercy is still most enjoyable, and not only when stuck under a car bonnet, or giving mental fashion tips to vampires. Her life is busy on many fronts – work, romance, fending off a journalist character that also seems to be disposable on the whole.

All of which adds to the humanising of the story – there is no sense here, despite the ability Mercy has to shrug off her form and trot around as a coyote (which she did a lot more of last time round, it must be said), of an unrealistic heroine. The world is well defined, and fully conceived with a fine sense of authority. I should also add that the couple of repetitions from part one do not get much in the way, and the book is as designed to be, very well self-contained.

I do think that, while by no means a fatal flaw, however, the way the main drama was approached in so circuitous a way was to the book's detriment. I would still recommend it – even to those not convinced enough from reading my review of part one and new to the cycle – but not as strongly. I could imagine this book minus twenty pages (mostly perhaps between the false and real climax), and none the worse for it. But it still forms an interesting take on slightly horrific fantasy, and is not going to put me off an ever-interesting series.

I would like to thank Orbit for sending the Bookbag a review copy.

Patricia Briggs Mercy Thompson Series in Chronological Order

Booklists.jpg Blood Bound (Mercy Thompson) by Patricia Briggs is in the Top Ten Books About Vampires.

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