Series: Mercy Thompson #6
Published by Ace on March, 2011
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy, Werewolves / Shifters
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Coyote shifter Mercy Thompson knows that life with her mate, the Alpha werewolf Adam, will never be boring, but even their wedding doesn't go as planned. Nevertheless, a ten-day honeymoon camping on the banks of the Columbia River, alone, just the two of them, should make up for it. But the trip - and the pimped-out trailer they're using - is courtesy of the fae. And nothing from the fae comes without strings attached...
Being a different breed of shapeshifter - a walker - Mercy can see ghosts, but the spirit of her long-gone father has never visited her. Until now. An evil is stirring in the depths of the Columbia River - and innocent people are dying. As other walkers make their presence know to Mercy, she must reconnect with her heritage to exorcise the world of the legend known as the river devil...
As it’s the sixth book in the Mercy Thompson series, you could be forgiven for thinking that River Marked is more of the same – werewolves, vampires, fae… but Patricia Briggs manages to keep injecting her most popular series with new elements and new characters, keeping it interesting while still maintaining her main cast of characters her readers have grown so attached to!
“I can turn into a coyote. My mom tells me I must get it from my father.”
The standout aspect of River Marked, for me, was the Native American aspect. We haven’t really gotten a chance before to really explore Mercy’s heritage and how that implicates her place in the supernatural world. We met characters such as Coyote (Mercy’s ‘father’) as well as a whole other host of Native American spirit gods that brought something new to the series. The world really is much bigger than just creatures based on European myth.
This instalment also differs from previous books in the series, as it’s ‘pack-light’. It really focuses on Mercy and Adam’s journey after their wedding, and we don’t see much of the pack itself. While some readers will miss these characters, it was great to see how Mercy and Adam work independently from them. While different, I found it enjoyable!
That being said, the wedding between Mercy and Adam seemed quite rushed and was at the start of the novel, rather than the climax of it. I was really hoping that we’d get some kind of build-up, since Mercy and Adam’s relationship has been bubbling and evolving from the very first time we were introduced to them! I thought the wedding would be more of a milestone even than it was!
There were some interesting plot developments (ah, walking stick – you are one of my favourite characters!) and I really found the story arc involving the river monster quite engaging. River Marked also brought forward a lot of new possibilities with this series in general, which was great to read.
“Someday, I’m going to meet some supernatural creature who tells me everything I should know up front and in a forthright manner – but I’m not going to hold my breath.”
However, like the other books in this series, the big ‘showdown’ between Mercy and said villain was quite anti-climactic. Everything else is done so well, but the endings never really satisfy me. They seem too rushed and never worth the wait. I always find myself thinking ‘aaaand, is the villain really ‘dead’… or are they going to pop up for round two?’ and then find myself becoming extremely disappointed that it’s over. While it’s not enough for me to turn my back on the series, it is something I hope will improve with the following books.
Like I’ve mentioned before, the real backbone of this series (and each individual novel) are Patricia Brigg’s characters. Despite being a mixture of supernatural beings, they are incredibly genuine and well-crafted. They grow, which is important. Mercy is a rare entity – a main character that I honestly don’t want to strangle! She evolves, she learns… she’s strong… and that’s really evident in River Marked.
I also have to applaud Patricia Briggs every single time for managing to keep a handle on such a broad cast of characters. While each book introduces us to new faces, it never feels like too much or like anyone is invented purely as fodder.
While my progress with this series has slowed (as it does after a long slog of six-plus books!) I am really enjoying them and Patricia Briggs as an author. The Mercy series has filled a void in my yearning for good old ‘traditional’ urban fantasy – something that we don’t see much anymore since the market became flooded some years ago!