I've been waiting for this book with such anticipation, and then when it finally came into the library, I was almost afraid to start it. My hopes were so high! I have come to adore this series with its smart and feisty heroine and cast of complex and engaging characters, and I was just a teensy bit afraid of being let down. But I needn't have worried - the book was fantastic. In fact, I think it might be my favorite one yet!
I know I always say this, but you really have to start with the first book, Moon Called, to fully enjoy this series. Each book builds relationships and characters, as well as continuing narrative arcs from earlier books, and the stories gain a depth and complexity throughout the series that is best appreciated if you start at the beginning.
In this installment, shapechanging coyote Mercy and sexy werewolf Adam go camping alone together. What precedes their trip is a bang-up opening scene that had me grinning like a fool the whole time I was reading, but I won't ruin things by describing it. I enjoyed the change in pace - after all, it was time for the two of them to finally have some alone time together, to sort out their complicated relationship without all the usual complications and distractions of living with a werewolf pack. But of course, their serenity does not last long. Something strange is happening in the area near their campsite, and when Mercy rescues a Native American man who has been attacked by some creature in the river, she and Adam become involved in a story that began thousands of years earlier.
Mercy has a deeper connection to the mystery than she at first realizes - but when she sees the ghost of a dancing Indian and recognizes him from the photo she has of the father who died before she was born, she realizes there is more to the situation than she expected. She meets a Native American medicine man who immediately recognizes her for the shapechanger she is - and for the first time in her life she meets others who can change shapes. She learns more about her past, and the situation proves to be an effective means of testing Mercy and Adam as they negotiate and strive for a balance in their own relationship.
I thoroughly enjoyed this installment to the Mercy Thompson series, particularly as it features my favorite character from folklore, who is portrayed just wonderfully, spot-on, which made me grin so many times as I read. The story is at times dark and violent, but it contains those usual sparks of bright humor I've come to expect from Briggs' work, and, as always, I felt a deep emotional connection to the story. This is a fantastic series, and I highly recommend it - even to readers who are normally not drawn by supernatural elements in their fiction. Briggs is a master storyteller, and this reader, for one, is more than willing to follow wherever she decides to go next.
Books in the Mercy Thompson series:
1. Moon Called
2. Blood Bound
3. Iron Kissed
4. Bone Crossed
5. Silver Borne
6. River Marked
River Marked (#6 in the Mercy Thompson series) by Patricia Briggs (Ace Books, 2011)
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Book Series Reviews: "Character development was stellar, even for some of the minor characters. World-building continues to be top notch in this series."
Fiction Vixen: "Patricia Briggs writes one of the best heroines in the urban fantasy genre today in Mercy Thompson. Mercy is not only strong and tough but she’s smart, loyal and genuinely good, making her a heroine that is so easy to love."