River Marked (Mercy Thompson, Book 6)
By Patricia Briggs
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Published March 2011, Penguin Group
Hardback, 326 pages
Car mechanic Mercy Thompson has always known there was something different about her, and not just the way she can make a VW engine sit up and beg. Mercy is a shapeshifter, a talent she inherited from her long-gone father. She's never known any others of her kind. Until now.This book takes a different direction than previous books in the series, because Mercy is doing something that I think is quite rare in the typical Urban Fantasy heroine -- she is getting married. As a married woman, I quite like this turn and the extra confidence and sense of permanence it gives Mercy, but I don't think this is something that every reader will fully appreciate. Still, it feels fresh and new to me, and I think it has the potential to "breathe new life" into the series.
An evil is stirring in the depths of the Columbia River-one that her father's people may know something about. And to have any hope of surviving, Mercy and her mate, the Alpha werewolf Adam, will need their help...
The loose ends of Stefan's mess from the previous book are quickly tied up, and the plot swiftly moves on to a "surprise" wedding for Mercy. The set-up of the wedding was quite endearing, and I even teared up a bit over it. These two sub-plots take place rather quickly, though, as the main focus of the book is what occurs during Mercy and Adam's honeymoon.
Mercy figures out quickly that they have been set up by certain fairy acquaintances for reasons that no one really knows. I was laughing at this, as it feels like a bumper sticker motto: If the world needs saving - send Mercy! So of course, Urban Fantasy heroine Mercy does not get a typical honeymoon, but one fraught with peril and impending doom.
While it may seem on the surface to be a random way to introduce new characters and magical elements into the series, I think that the events that happened at the Columbia River were a great way to focus on Mercy's native heritage and answer many of the questions that I have been harboring through the series about her ability to transform into a coyote. She makes some new friends of native descent that are able to help her tackle her looming battle with the river monster, and she discovers that she is not the only native who can become another animal. She also learns more about her father and his relationship with her mother. The walking stick also plays a major part, though I hope this is not the last we've seen of it. That stick has too many quirks to just let it go.
The river monster itself was quite a creation - as much fantasy as I have read, I've never come across anything quite like it, though some creatures of Greek mythology comes close. Abominations like that remind me why I avoid watching horror movies. The behavior of the otterkin also reminded me of the way members of a cult exalt their leader - creepy. I can't wait for the next book!
The Cover: I like the direct view of Mercedes without all of the usual distractions, but I kind of wish the cover had shown the actual mark on her leg. The background also references the cliff art that she learns about in the book - a nice touch without overwhelming the cover design.
First Line: "Under the glare of streetlights, I could see that the grass of Stefan's front lawn was dried to yellow by the high summer heat."
While not exceptionally engrossing, this opening does remind me of some of the ending details of the previous book in the Mercy Thompson series using the good writing technique of "showing, not telling."
Favorite Quote: "Take a note: it usually works better if you wait until I do something stupid before getting mad at me."
Read For: Off the Shelf Challenge, Strong Heroine Challenge, Twenty-Eleven Challenge
*I received this book free of charge from the publisher for review purposes.*