It was mid-February. The sky was pregnant with grey snow that turned to rain when I dropped 200 metres down the hill to the lakeside. The noon-time temperature was just above freezing. I had proposals to write in my deliberately small and dark office.
So, before I started my day, I decided to spend some time with Mercy Thompson and remind myself how much fun reading can be.
I opened up "Frost Burned" and found that it was Thanksgiving in Washington State, so the weather was no better than here but within a single chapter, I'd been transported from here to somewhere where all I have to do is relax and admire how skillfully Patricia Briggs re-immerses me into Mercy's world through the mundane activity of Black Friday shopping and then blows everything apart, leaving me keen to know what happens next.
Better yet, I'd been able to get "Frost Burned" in the audiobook version (books 2-6 aren't available as audiobooks in Switzerland) so I let Lorelei King lay the whole thing out for me as I walk beneath slowly brightening sky to get a café creme and a couple of croissants for breakfast.
I consumed the rest of the book over the next two days with a growing sense of contentment because the writing was good, the plot was engaging and Mercy keeps getting more and more real.
I'd wondered how Patrica Briggs would keep Mercy at the centre of things now that she's married to Adam Hauptman, the Pack Alpha and is surrounded by protective and scary werewolves. The solution was simple and brilliant: have the Pack abducted and leave Mercy to protect Adam's daughter and try to rescue the Pack.
I liked the fact that Mercy has to solve this problem by collaborating with others and by being willing to make sacrifices on a human and believable scale. The book also neatly folded in characters and themes from the earlier books. The big bad doesn't emerge out of nowhere. In retrospect, I should have been able to see something like this coming. Of course, the fact that I didn't is part of the fun.
The only criticism I have of the book is that there was a hiatus in the middle as one problem was solved only to reveal a much bigger problem underneath. I can see why the pause was there but it felt a little flat all the same and left me feeling that I had two stories stitched together.
Still, both parts of the story were good. The baddies were credible. The outcome was dramatic but feasible and Mercy has established herself as a force to be reckoned with.
I've been rationing myself to one Mercy Thompson book a month but it's March now and there's still snow outside so I'm looking forward to opening up "Night Broken" and letting Patricia Briggs and Lorelei King light up my imagination again.
Listen to the SoundCloud link below to sample Lorelei King's performance.
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