Yay! A new Mercy Thompson book! So of course I had to
I knew I was going to like this book... well, as soon as I heard there was another Mercy Thompson novel on the way pretty much, but even aside from that, I'd have known as soon as I saw the cover, which has an attractive woman in an attractive pose... but a) while she's not fat, she has some meat and muscle on her, and b) while the pose is aesthetically pleasing, it's not slut-tastic. And c) her breasts are actually a reasonable size! And not thrust in our faces! Much love.
But on to the content. I really do thing Briggs is getting generally better as she goes along - I was a bit worried I'll admit at the end of the previous book, where Bad Shit Happened and it looked like the Heroine went from "oh shit oh shit this is horrible" to "oh hey, I'm fine!" a bit too quickly and easily. But it turns out, that that isn't the case.(1) And also in the "handling of women and situations" category, I like that Mercy is strong and can handle herself, but she can and does have to rely on others (sometimes big strong men) to handle some things, because they're physically or otherwise more capable at those particular things, or just in a better situation to deal with them. But then she in her turn will then handle things for *them* or otherwise pull (or keep) their fat out of the fire, sometimes at a cost to herself. So it doesn't come across as her being either a weak little woman, or a stubborn "strong" woman who is a mask for a Mary Sue that can handle anything.
We also get to see some other things furthered here, which is good. The whole "Everyone loves me but who do I love" back-and-forth thing is pretty much dealt with in the last book, and this book doesn't immediately flip-flop back on that, which is enjoyable. And, as a side note, there is implied sex or at least sexual activity, but it isn't thrust under our noses in a soft-porny fashion! Is that even allowed in this genre? And we also see various characters that I like reappear and situations regarding them dealt with(2), basically keeping the overall story of the series moving, and the characters growing and developing. And certain Swords of Damocles are finally dealt with. So... yay!
All in all, I really enjoyed the book. Multiple things going on, some of them tying together in ways you wouldn't quite expect. And while Mercy and Friends are shown to be capable and all that, they also can't just snap their fingers and have everything work out just as they'd like. And the characters are, as always, well-writte. I mean, when a damn walking stick is a more interesting character than some of the characters in other series, ya know you're doing something right. Oh, and as for plot...? Good grief, Byzantine isn't the freaking word.
As for bad points... well, since everything has flaws, I'll admit I was kinda hoping to see more of certain other dangling plot points(3), but that's not so much a flaw in the writing as just something set aside, I assume, for later. And on a more flaw-tastic note, we do still get a bit of "everyone loves Mercy," or at least all these big bad Huge Names in the supernatural world who are intrigued by her, take note of her, maybe even do things for her that they otherwise wouldn't.(4) But she still seems to piss off enough other people that even that doesn't bother me as much as it otherwise might.
Hrm, so much for not having a lot to say about the book. I think I can end it here though, before it devolves into an "OMG I love Mercy"-fest. (Possibly too late...)
1. So she got raped, and was a total wreck, and then seemed to just basically pull herself together and "snap out of it." But, apparently, she was just pretty much kidding herself, and spends a lot of time in this book having panic attacks, trying to deal with shit, and basically re-build her comfy little worldview after a traumatic situation. Which, y'know, I don't want to see characters I like suffer, but it's a hell of a lot more realistic.
2. In other words, we get to see Stefan again (how can you NOT love a vampire with a Scooby-Doo fetish?), and while he's definitely not painted up as a Saint and Bad Shit that he did is definitely brought forward to the reader again, he's also not just painted as a Bad Guy either. He's, y'know, multi-dimensional!
3. Really, I'm looking forward to seeing more of the Grey Lords or whatever they're called - the lords of the Fae that Mercy kept seeming to run into, and who seemed to take some interest in her for whatever reason. Especially blue water elf-boy, not that this probably surprises ANYONE who knows me.
4. Dude, seriously. Baba Yaga?
Recommendation: Obviously, I recommend the book if you like the Urban Supernatural type stuff at all. Or even wanna give it a spin. Although I would suggest starting with the first book, uh, first. And I guess that way you could always maybe wait for this one in paperback. (Did I mention the series made the jump to hardcover? Oops...)