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Saturday, June 15, 2019

'Storm Cursed' Mercy Thompson, #11 by Patricia Briggs

From the BLURB: 

My name is Mercedes Athena Thompson Hauptman, and I am a car mechanic. And a coyote shapeshifter . . . And the mate of the Alpha of the Columbia Basin werewolf pack. 

Even so, none of that would have gotten me into trouble if, a few months ago, I hadn't stood upon a bridge and taken responsibility for the safety of the citizens who lived in our territory. It seemed like the thing to do at the time. It should have only involved hunting down killer goblins, zombie goats and an occasional troll. Instead, our home was viewed as neutral ground, a place where humans would feel safe to come and treat with the fae. 

The reality is that nothing and no one is safe. As generals and politicians face off with the Gray Lords of the fae, a storm is coming and her name is Death. 

But we are pack, and we have given our word. We will die to keep it.

'Storm Cursed' is the eleventh (!!!!) book in Patricia Brigg's 'Mercy Thompson' series. 

Following on from 'Silence Fallen', 'Storm Cursed' is all about Mercy and the pack readjusting to a new world order in which Fae are public and deadly; but a coven of witches coming to town and wreaking havoc provides a sinister distraction for the entire Tri Cities area ... 

I really liked this storyline, straight off the bat. I hate, hate, HATE the Fae stuff and I was glad to see Briggs largely put that gangly, cumbersome back-story aside and focused on introducing a one-off "big bad" in the form of this witch coven. I especially liked this "episodic" supernatural quandary for Mercy and the gang, because it pulled in the vampires too - and everyone's favourite Stefan actually makes a satisfactory appearance! 

Yes, this instalment still feels like "filler" (as have the last four or so Mercy books of late) and Briggs is clearly still beholden to somehow making the Fae stuff work as the next story-arc even though it's dull, silly, and I still don't feel like I know any of the players or particularly care about them. 

But 'Storm Cursed' gave good pack interactions (though many of our fave werewolf regulars are missing, and the timeline slightly threw me - Mercy at one point has a chat with one of the pack about how she's still adjusting to Christy not being Adam's wife and I thought ... HOLD UP, haven't Adam and Mercy been married for an AGE by now?!) 

So, yes - this is a "filler" book but it's a largely enjoyable one ... even as I'm becoming increasingly worried about how much this series feels like its spinning its wheels. 

I'm having an increasingly mercurial relationship with Mercy Thompson. We're 11 books in now, which is around the time that I bailed out of Laurell K. Hamilton's 'Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter' and J.R. Ward's 'Black Dagger Brotherhood' series - which like Mercy, are all in the paranormal/urban fantasy realms. And the reason I left those two series (which are still ongoing) was becoming the same issue I found myself having with Briggs' Mercy .... namely; that the series had no end in sight (Briggs has also basically said she'll keep writing them as long as they keep selling and the publisher keeps asking for more) and it's a noticeable drop-off from where the series started out with tight storytelling, characterisation and a general sense of goal-posts being set up, and eventually reached. 

The main issue with Mercy is her romance with alpha werewolf Adam Hauptman was SUCH a huge part of the early books, and since their marriage it feels like they (and readers) are in stasis. I always state that I don't believe babies make for Happily Ever After, and that's the case here too - I don't feel the need for Mercy to be barefoot and pregnant for her story to take on gravitas and meaning - but each new instalment has them with fewer and fewer interactions (indeed, book #10 was literally all about Mercy being kidnapped and Adam working to save her - they were separated for the entire book) and it's what I miss most about those early books, was their general banter, heat and *togetherness*. 

I will say that this eleventh book does a much better job of giving us Adam and Mercy's marriage and more daily interactions - but I still feel like Briggs hasn't quite got back the *intimacy* of Adam and Mercy, or their heat. 

I keep coming back to this series for the relationships - and largely the relationship of Mercy and Adam - but it hasn't been clicking for me for about four books now, and I'm getting worried.


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