Angels & Demons

I remember really enjoying this book when I first read it. I liked the fast pace, the all-or-nothing drama of the mystery that needs to be solved. Scholars saving the day is always a fun trope—Indiana Jones is awesome, after all, and I LOVE The Librarian movies.

Now that I’m older, I got pretty annoyed by the way Brown writes about the females in the book. I’m sorry, female, singular. Just one. Gorgeous and intelligent and for some reason SO eager to have sex with the protagonist when I don’t think he’s really done anything to warrant that kind of attention. I guess it’s like at the end of The Kingsman. An ending for the hetero guys, maybe? Cause I didn’t see why it was necessary, at all.

The writing can be a bit purple, and the protagonist is pretty full of himself and just conveniently knows things that no normal person would know. I mean a lot of this stuff isn’t even in his field! But it is a fast story and the suspense is good and the villain is sort of cookie cutter but not terrible. You can see the twists coming, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still enjoyable when they arrive.

I think fans of suspense and mystery fiction would enjoy these Robert Langdon books, and probably males more than females, because there isn’t much in here for females to relate to. Ultimately I think it comes down to this not being my type of book anymore. My tastes have shifted as I’ve gotten older and experienced more stories, and my MFA definitely changed how I read things now. So, there are plenty of people out there who would like this story a lot, but I think I won’t be re-reading it after this time.

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A Torch Against the Night

Second books in a trilogy are sometimes lackluster. NOT SO WITH THIS BOOK. It doesn’t feel like a bridge between books one and three at all. This feels like an action-packed amazing continuation and escalation of the original story.

Elias and Laia and Helene—they are such beautifully-wrought characters. I can’t get enough of Elias and Laia, and getting to know Helene was supposed to be sort of tedious, right, because she’s all pious? Except NO WAY could Tahir’s writing ever be tedious. Every chapter was engaging and lovely.

The mythos woven into this story, the magical powers and legends, they build up at just the right pace. You never feel like she’s infodumping, and you always get the next bit just when you want a little bit more to keep you guessing.

Settings, perfect. Story, perfect. Well, okay. There was one thing I saw coming before it happened, but I think that was just because I was shipping a particular pairing so hard that I wanted to believe I was right about this other thing…and even then, I only guessed a small portion of what it actually was, and the greater truth was big and momentous.

All the feels, in this book. ALL OF THEM. If you haven’t read An Ember in the Ashes, start there, and DO NOT STOP until you’ve finished this one and are waiting as eagerly for the third book as I am. Seriously. Do it.

The Da Vinci Code

There are a lot of people out there that love this series, and there’s something to be said for the pacing, the way the puzzles fit into each other, the subject matter that is accessible but complex enough to make readers feel smart as they follow along.

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of this many adjectives in a novel. I also would love more believable female characters—ones who don’t automatically fall for the main character just because he’s been around with them during some dangerous events. I can’t really relate to any of the characters in this novel.

All that said—I do really appreciate the attempt to spread knowledge about the “sacred feminine” from a historical angle. It’s nice to have something so mainstream talking about pentacles/pentagrams and symbols of fertility and goddesses. In that respect, I think Brown is doing Neopagans everywhere a service—if this helps change the mainstream narrative that usually conflates Pagans with devil-worshippers, then I’m in full support.

Silence Fallen

I’ll start with the same disclaimer I always start with when I review Mercy Thompson books…if you haven’t already read all the previous ones, go do that. You start with Moon Called, and then work your way through. After you’ve finished up to Fire Touched, you can come read this. 🙂

Silence Fallen, the newest Mercy Thompson novel, is a fabulous continuation of the series, and it offers something extra that we haven’t experienced before in Mercy’s world. I almost didn’t want to read this, because it means I’ve caught up to the publication of Mercy novels, and now have to wait with everyone else until the next one comes out. More Mercy, please!

I’m super glad I read it, though, of course. I always am, with Mercy novels.

In Silence Fallen, we start out in the normal setting, in the tri-cities in Washington. Where do we end up, for the vast majority of the novel? Oh, just Europe. With European vampires and werewolves, of course. 😀

It’s pretty awesome seeing Mercy in such a different setting. She’s away from the comfort of home, and beyond most help, actually, from the people she normally relies on. This book alternates between Mercy’s POV and Adam’s, which is also new and interesting. There’s a fun surprise near the end which I honestly didn’t spot coming, though many people online said they saw it right from the start. I had to do internet searches to have some questions answered by the time I finished the book, actually, because I suspected I knew what happened but wasn’t 100% sure. Sometimes it’s nice to hear the author weigh in themselves.

Once I understood what I’d missed, I was pleasantly entertained.

The characters are, as ever, beautifully realized. There’s a more subtle, tricksy villain in this one than many of the others we’ve seen, and there’s more relationship politics as the US vamps and wolves band together to help Mercy out.

In short, if you’re a Mercy fan, you’ve already read this novel and I don’t know why you’re bothering to read this review. Another excellent addition to the series. Job well done, Patricia Briggs.

Frost Burned

I absolutely love the way this book starts out. Mercy and Jesse are out shopping on Black Friday. So mundane, so human. Then Jesse says something interesting and…things really take off. The acceleration is insane in this seventh book of the series.

As ever, if you haven’t read the others in the series, go read them. You don’t want spoilers. Believe me. Read them in order. Go start with Moon Called.

I don’t want to give away the central issue, so let me just say it hardly matters that the “villains” are shrouded in mystery, or using obscure military groups to conduct their evil schemes. The only thing that matters in this book is Mercy and how much she discovers about her abilities. It’s fascinating and beautiful stuff. I love watching Mercy discover herself, her powers, her inheritance.

The ending is a different sort of pace in this novel than everything that comes before it. You don’t really see it coming, and it kind of sneaks up on you. Feels a little off-course and abrupt, too, though poignant for Mercy’s associations with the vampires. Basically, I feel like this book had the climax it did just so we could bring Stefan back into things. You won’t find me complaining about that, though.

This is a tense installment to the Mercy Thompson series. It’s fascinating, and heart breaking, and sets us up well for the novels to follow. Forever Mercy fan, here, if you couldn’t tell.

River Marked

Only Mercy Thompson could go on her honeymoon and encounter a friggin RIVER DEVIL bent on seducing all humans to their deaths by drowning, dismemberment, or mind-controlled thrall-ness. Damn.

If you haven’t read the other books in this series yet, get the hell out of this review and go read them. Seriously. Spoilers ahead, and I don’t want to be the one who ruins them for you.

All gone?

Okay, good. As for the rest of us…(not that you need a review to convince you to read this book, since you’re probably devouring them as fast as you can already…)

So, Mercy and Adam. Not the worst pairing ever. And they seem to suit each other really well. I love that Adam is a super controlling, powerful pack leader—but is continually forced to let Mercy do her own thing. Independent women kick ass, yo.

The river devil isn’t quite as fascinating as the other shapeshifters that Mercy meets in this novel. Including some big powerhouses of the Native American totem variety. Coyote’s role in this book is hard to pin down, just like the trickster he is. I think Briggs writes him super well. And man is it interesting, finding out more about where Mercy comes from!

The climactic battle had me very much on edge. I don’t know how Briggs does it. You think things can’t get any more dangerous than they have already gotten, right? Wrong. She manages to amp it up every single time, until I’m seriously wondering how Mercy is going to stay alive through this, because there are other Mercy books after this in the series. Unless Mercy actually dies and comes back as a ghost or something. Or gets turned into a vamp. Please don’t get turned into a vamp. I don’t want another Anita Blake. I just want Mercy. Mercy forever.

Silver Borne

This fifth installment of the Mercy Thompson books is a must-read for Mercy fans—especially those who love Samuel.

I’m not saying I wanted Mercy and Sam to be together. Really, I’m not. It’s just that Samuel is so much more interesting than Adam. I’m not really drawn to the tortured, I’m-a-werewolf-therefore-I’m-a-hideous-and-irredeemable-monster type guys. I’d go for the brooding Celt over the guilt-ridden Russian any day.

Samuel is having major problems with life in general in this book. His story isn’t quite central to the plot, but it matters a lot, and helps keep the tension high. I love it when the wolves surface. I love the duality of the wolf and human, two separate halves, sometimes cooperating, sometimes dominating each other. I think it’s a really beautiful interpretation of werewolves and creates interesting internal power dynamics.

You get a lot of the werewolves and some Fae in this one, not so much the vamps. The Fae stuff is usually kind of over my head—there’s a lot going on with their complicated society. At least the werewolves and vamps are all basically their own species. The Fae have so many different kinds it’s hard to keep track of them all. There’s a Faerie queen driving the plot of this book, and I didn’t find her as compelling or memorable as some of the other villains from the series so far.

Regardless, you’ve gotta read this book if you already love the series. I mean, come on. You know you want to hear more about Samuel, and get to know him better. Here’s your chance. Go take it.

Bone Crossed

I’ve loved Mercy Thompson since I picked up Moon Called. Blood Bound was fabulous as well, and it made sense after how much I loved Iron Kissed that I would pick up the next book in the series pretty much right away.

Bone Crossed is the fourth book, and feels sort of like a bridge. Books one and two introduce us to the werewolves and the vampires, book three to the Fae. Bone Crossed deals with the intersection of all of those, to some degree. Mostly it works to deepen the relationships between characters, and strengthen the reader’s interest in what will happen next. Mercy and Adam, Samuel and Zee and Warren and Kyle and Stefan and even Jesse—they’re old friends, now. You read them, and you think, “I know you,” at the same time you’re hungering to know more about them. Some of them still have mysterious pasts. Some of them have uncertain futures. They’re beautifully written and so very real.

The villain in this book is pretty creepy. Not quite as psychopath-creepy as Littleton from Blood Bound, but still scary. Suave and scary. It feels like the book is going to take one direction, but it veers off course a little and dabbles in a distraction instead. A distraction that ends up being beneficial, though you feel odd at the end of the book that even though you’ve gotten a big confrontation out of the way, it wasn’t the one you were expecting to get.

I think the order in which I like the books at this point goes: Iron Kissed, Blood Bound, Moon Called, then Bone Crossed. But even in last place among its fellows, this is still a very good book. It made me pick up book five right away. Go figure. I can’t get enough of Mercy Thompson. 😀

Iron Kissed

Wow. Just—wow. Moon Called was really good. Blood Bound got my heart racing with the tension and terror and high stakes. Iron Kissed is EVEN BETTER.

How often do you get to say that? Some authors really peter out as their trilogies or series continue. It takes real skill to keep your books on an even level, or to make each subsequent one better. So far so good, Patricia Briggs. You’re totally rocking these stories.

Moon Called focused on the werewolves, and Blood Bound on the vampires. Iron Kissed is about the Fae. It starts so innocuously. Come to think of it, it was like that in Blood Bound, as well. Stefan showing up at Mercy’s doorstep asking for help with something vampire-related. Zee calling Mercy up and asking for help with something Fae-related. Good friend that she is, Mercy complies. She does everything she can to help—both times in her coyote form. Both times getting in WAY over her head.

The crazy part is, Briggs starts the stories the same way—and takes them to entirely different (and almost equally good) levels. Blood Bound has more horror in it. Iron Kissed more suspense. Blood Bound deals with characters and creatures who are “evil” in the moral and/or religious sense of the word. The stuff that goes down in the climax of Iron Kissed is “evil” in the gut-wrenching, nausea-inducing sense of the word.

Trigger warning for survivors of sexual assault: whether you read this book is up to you. It is fantastic, and does end on hope rather than despair, but you’ll need a strong stomach to get beyond the events of the climax. They could be triggering.

I love how Briggs is able to grow Mercy into such a REAL character. Not changing her clocks for Daylight Savings Time. Putting her phone into her back pocket, which has cost her two phones already. Her hot chocolate comfort food predilection. Her strength of will that allows any romantic B-story through-lines to develop organically and make sense when they do (instead of the “instant” attraction of so many romance novels). The dialogue is wonderful. Mercy’s internal commentary is still a joy to listen to. The writing is so on point when Mercy’s internal voice changes while she’s under the influence. I’m impressed by the skill it must have taken to balance that just right, to avoid annoying the reader or popping them out of the story but still show that Mercy was not truly herself.

Damn. I’m so happy I found these books.

As a side note, Lorelei King does a FANTASTIC job narrating the audiobooks. She’s a gem, nails so many different voices, and has the Welsh, Irish, AND German accents down pat. I would definitely recommend the audiobooks for those who like that format. I’m eager to get my hands on physical copies of these books, though. I can imagine them becoming old friends, like some of the other series I re-visit from time to time.

I’m eager to start the next book. Briggs is doing such a wonderful job with these, and Mercy Thompson is the newest on my list of favorite badass female characters. ❤

Blood Bound

If you love Mercy Thompson as much as I do, when you finish reading Moon Called, you’re desperate to know what’s next. I have to admit—I was a little apprehensive about what the situation might be, coming into the second book. It felt like our kickass, independent heroine was giving in to romance a little too easily. I should have more faith in Patricia Briggs, because book two of the series starts off with Mercy being too damn independent to let a man claim her. Any man.

There’s a bit of a love triangle situation going on in this book, and it adds to the intrigue, rather than detracting from it. It’s a slow tension, subtle, never directly influencing events much, but growing the characters. It helps flesh out their backstory, makes them real.

The primary action-packed conflict in this novel centers around a baddie much more evil than the one in the first book. Literally evil, as the whole book deals with vampires and the demon-possessed (or demon-rider/ridden, if you want to get technical). It’s nice to learn more about the vampires in this series, and to spend more time with Stefan. These vamps are actually bearable (coming from someone who has never been a vampire fan), and figuring out the minutiae of how they live, organize themselves, use their powers, and feed is very interesting.

Compound that with a truly scary baddie, an action-packed climactic battle, and the hint of future repercussions after Mercy has to do something during the battle that seems small but will probably have major consequences down the line…and this is a beautiful continuation to a series I was already hooked on after reading the first book.

Funny anecdote: I was listening to the part where Mercy kneels on her bed all night, shotgun in hand, while we had a tree leaning against our house (waiting for the tree guys to come remove it). So all that night I woke repeatedly to the scritch of twigs scratching the windowpane in the wind. You’ll get it once you read the book. Which you should go do, right now (as long as you’ve already read Moon Called. Don’t hit these out of order—they’re too good to screw up for yourself that way, though Briggs usually includes small backstory to the previous tome at the beginning of the next, folding it in to the story to feel mostly germane).

Seriously. Go read this book. Read the whole series. It’s off to an auspicious start and sequel so far.