Thursday, February 14, 2008

Iron Kissed - Patricia Briggs

When her former boss and mentor is arrested for murder and left to rot behind bars by his own kind, it's up to shapeshifting car mechanic Mercy Thompson to clear his name, whether he wants her to or not. And she'll have to choose between the two werewolves in her life-whether she wants to or not.

Blurb from www.fantasticfiction.co.uk
We've had a werewolf book with Mercy and a vampire book with Mercy; this one is about the Fae. It opens with Mercy's mentor and former boss - and fae - Zee asking her to check out a murder at the fae reservation. He hopes her coyote nose may pick up something the fae themselves have missed. The idea of the fae on a reservation and the dichotomy between the fa├žade they present and the truth they were hiding was beautifully shown. Mercy, of course, sees more than she is supposed to do and almost gets herself in a lot of trouble as a result. Her steps into the Otherworld are beautiful and I hope we get to visit here again in a later book.

Mercy does indeed identify the murderer, but that's the beginning of the story, not the end. When Zee and other fae go to confront the murderer they find him already dead and Zee ends up arrested for the murder.

From there, Mercy quickly finds herself caught up in high fae politics - not at all a comfortable place to be, haunted by a mystical walking stick that seems to have taken a liking to her and also forced to accept that it is time to choose between Adam, her neighbour and local werewolf alpha to whom she is attracted and Sam, her first love who has reappeared in her life.

I was happy with Mercy's decision and the thought processes that brought her there. (It helped she picked the one I wanted her to, but I would have been happy with either of them really.) I've seen some readers comment that they thought it all happened a bit too fast, but that still worked for me. It was like her coming to a realisation that had been there all along but she hadn't been ready to accept, rather than a new decision. It seemed right to me and I look forward to seeing how her relationships with both men progress as the series progresses.

The villain of the piece was well thought out and I felt realistically described. I had some suspicions about his identity and when I was proved right felt satisfied that my suspicions had been correct.

There's an unpleasant scene near the end that I've heard complaints about, but again I felt it worked properly within the context of the book. It certainly wouldn't have been in character for the villain not to attempt this and for all that the result was unpleasant, I think the book is stronger for it. (I'm trying not to give any spoilers here, which will make the rest of my comments unfortunately vague and only understandable if you've read the book. Sorry about that.)

The aftermath was beautifully done, especially Mercy's retreat and Adam's reactions. The way Ben stepped in to give his alpha a talking to (not an easy thing for a werewolf to do) and also reveal the pain of his own past was beautiful. Ben has not been an easy character to like - deliberately I am sure - and here at last we see some of his deeper layers and the why of the way he is. I hope he will continue to feature in the series as I suddenly find myself wanting to know all about him.

I was a bit unsettled by the ending, as I felt Mercy wasn't ready for the step she had decided to take and things were likely to go badly. I hoped the next book would pick up where this one left off to show what happened next. I've since learned that this is indeed the case - Briggs has started writing it, hooray! - and that makes me much happier with how thing novel finished. It wasn't really a cliffhanger, but it did leave things up in the air, but I feel I understand now and I can live with it better.

This series continues to be great and Briggs has cemented her place in my auto-buy list.

Iron Kissed
Mercy Thompson, Book 3
Patricia Briggs
9/10

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