Author: Patricia Briggs
Page Count: 336 pages
Where I got it: A review copy sent to me from the fine folks at Ace Books (Penguin)
Patricia Briggs does urban fantasy well. While her world is not as big or all-encompassing as other authors, she still writes a damn fine tale. Her latest Mercy Thompson novel (6th in the series) RIVER MARKED is no exception.
This is a fairly self-contained little story, one which really only includes (from the main cast list) Mercy and her mate/husband/Alpha werewolf Adam. Other main characters appear but only at the beginnig and at the end, but that's okay as we needed a rest from them methinks. Mercy and Adam decide to get married...suddenly...., and then when they go a’honeymoonin’ things of course start to go south. Equal parts supernatural mystery, Mercy’s heritage and her love story, RIVER MARKED, while not a perfect entry in the series is a very fast and fun read.
The story begins with a very simple premise actually. There is something in the river, or near it, that is killing people (the book begins with a couple of news articles about disappearances) and of course that’s right where Mercy and Adam head to relax. I don’t want to spoil anything here, but things ramp up when Mercy and Adam rescue a guy in a boat who is injured, and Mercy is “attacked” by something she thinks is innocuous, but later finds she has been marked by a river monster. The story takes off from there and get's weirder, more exciting and is a heck of a ride.
What’s nice here, for me at least, is that this story FINALLY branches out from the whole Stefan/Marsilia vampire coven feud, werewolf measuring contests, and crazy fae from the reserve stories that have populated the books till now. I’m not saying I disliked those, but I am just glad that Briggs was smart enough to start widening her supernatural world, including more about shifters and the like. Plus, a sea monster is always a nice add.
I think the most intriguing part of this story is actually the view we finally get into Mercy’s past. Her coyote skinwalker nature comes to the fore and we get to learn a few things. The sea monster/otterkind storyline is kind of icing on that cake to be honest.
The only issues I have are with Mercy and Adam. After this long together and the things they have been through I know they are in love, but they behave sometimes like probing teens firstly awakening to love and sex...and they aren't. Real folk don't act like that ALL the time, only some of the time. I'm probably nitpicking, but it stood out a little to me here. More than it has in previous volumes at any rate. Things like Mercy licking a drop of sweat off Adam’s chest seems rather excessive. I like urban fantasy as much as the rest, but I just hope that Briggs doesn’t descend into vampire/werewolf porn. Are these romance books, or supernatural urban fantasy? That said, so far Briggs has kept the romance to a blissful minimum and the main plotline is normally in the forefront. I just hope it stays that way, because in RIVER MARKED there were a few moments that had me wondering. On the flipside, there is a letter in this book that was probably one of the most poignant things Briggs has ever written about love and that I was fine with and even admired.
Like I said above, a fast read, but one that ends with a kind of breathlessness that makes you wonder about the future and what is next in store for Mercy, Adam and Co. Briggs has crafted a really great tale and one that you can probably get through in one sitting. RIVER MARKED is a real wildfire, page-turner and a well-honed 6th entry in the Mercy Thompson series. If you enjoyed the previous volumes you will enjoy this one, and in fact I'd even go so far as to wager you'll enjoy it even more. I certainly did.