Having been a little disappointed in the eighth book "Night Broken" I was pleased that "Fire Touched" was a return to form for the Mercy Thompson series.
There were lots of things to like about this book. Personally, I'll grin at any series where, at the end of a period of domestic discussion, the step-mother says to her step-daughter, as she and her husband rush from the house,"Gotta go, kid, there's a monster on the bridge."
It was large and hard-to-kill monster and the battle scene was only exceeded by the melodrama (which I thought was actually quite stylish) of the rallying call that Mercy gives, blood-spattered, walking stick/spear lit with pulsing red sigils raised above her head, her mate apparently unconscious at her feet. No wonder it made national television.
This story avoided being another Mercy-takes-on-the-big-bad-almost-alone-nearly-dies-but-is-saved-by-friends theme that was becoming repetitive (albeit well done each time). Instead, it was more of an ensemble piece with some strategic ideas about the relationship between the wolves and the fae that moved things in interesting directions.
The Pack now feels real, populated by people I know who are acting from motives that I understand. It helped that Adam finally stepped up and did the full-on Alpha thing.
Three new characters are introduced, none of whom are narcissistic psychopaths who could run for President. Old characters re-appear but doing new things and sometimes working to new agendas. The politics is has become more complex and less easy to second-guess. The depiction of Fairy Land is original and quite chilling.
There was also some clever but unobtrusive cross-over references with the Maroc and Charles that reminded me to make a start on the Alpha and Omega series.
While there is still a lot of action, much of it involving Mercy taking on things many times her size and the body-count is satisfyingly high, the action was there to illustrate the story, not drive it. We're back to a story driven by the characters and their situation.
I ended the book having enjoyed my visit with Mercy and looking forward to the next one.