Himself is a solid fan of this series and had pre-ordered this book, though I had slightly lost touch with this supernatural urban fantasy adventure since the early days – see my review of Blood Bound here. Has this long-running series run out of steam?
Tensions between the fae and humans are coming to a head. And when coyote shapeshifter Mercy and her Alpha werewolf mate, Adam, are called upon to stop a rampaging troll, they find themselves with something that could be used to make the fae back down and forestall out-and-out war: a human child stolen long ago by the fae. Defying the most powerful werewolf in the country, the humans and the fae, Mercy, Adam and their pack choose to protect the boy no matter what the cost. But who will protect them from a boy who is fire touched?
The story hits the ground running and whisked me straight back into Mercy’s world with a deftness that always wins me over. Though this time around, she is happily married to Adam – a huge improvement on the romantic shilly-shallying that was going on in the earlier books. Depicting a solidly happy marriage in a long-running series is trickier than it might seem, but I reckon Briggs has nailed this one. I like the strong bond between them that didn’t descend into unrealistic treacle. Not that they have all that much time to stare meaningfully into each others’ eyes…
It all kicks off very fast and the threat continues to ramp up, as Mercy’s impulsive drive to protect a frightened refugee leaves the pack very exposed and Adam with some hard choices. It goes without saying that there are a whole cast of strong, enjoyable characters who also feature in the mayhem. My two favourites are Zee, the grumpy Fae smith with a galaxy-sized chip on his shoulder and Baba Yaga – Briggs’ version of this famous Russian witch is enjoyable.
As well as providing entertaining characters, Briggs excels at unspooling the action. She understands that in order for the big, crashing climaxes to really work, we also need quieter moments to reflect exactly what is going and just how high the stakes are being raised. And scenes that tip into farce can also provide much-needed light relief. I really enjoyed these.
I had expected to be whisked away into the another of mischief and mayhem – it’s why I’m a fan of speculative fiction – what I hadn’t anticipated from the ninth book in the series, was the same chirpy insouciance that was apparent in the earlier novels. It is a given that as a series progress, the initial light-heartedness inevitably fades away as the stakes are gradually raised ever higher. But episodes like the rescue of Sherwood Post from the top of a crane and the spatula smack in the kitchen made me grin and kept all the life and death stuff from getting too heavy.
That said, was the final denouement sufficiently satisfying? Oh yes. There were still a few twists to keep it exciting and plenty of drama, while I have a hunch that Mercy and the pack will be dealing with some of the fallout from this business in the future. In short, this was a blast. If you like urban fantasy with a feisty heroine and werewolf action, then it doesn’t get better than this.