Mercy Thompson returns in a series that's not even close to growing old, this time around getting kidnapped by a big-bad vampire who runs Europe and has ties with her local seethe. My initial thoughts when reading the synopsis months ago was eek, are we finally getting more Stefan?
While I'm team Adam all the way for Mercy romantic wise, I think it's a shame the author hasn't explored more of the closeness of Stefan and Mercy, especially since he's a favorite, fascinating character for me. There's a lot more that could be done there, and instead we get books where he's completely missing, or the most where he gets a few lines and then vanishes again for the rest of the story. Since this involved vampires, I thought it was an inevitable conclusion we'd get more Stefan. I was right....and wrong.
The winning feature of this sequel is the storyline. A lot happens in random stages but not where they are solving one big mystery or villain like usual. It's actually so layered it's better than most. The story doesn't stay with Mercy being kidnapped, but breaks free into all sorts of other things - the local Alpha, another vampire group that has hidden dangers that tangle with morality and secrets, weird Golam things. Mercy learns a lot more about herself and her ghost power (finally, that's been overused to see and acknowledge them before).
There's some resolution and stuff with Bran that's awesome. While Mercy is separated from Adam during pretty much the entire book, their bond is head on strong and you don't feel like they are that absent from each other. Briggs takes turns in both of their heads, which isn't something she started doing until recently.
Character-wise we get lots of Adam, who was top notch. His line when sees Mercy at the end for the first time melted my heart. He's tough and plays politics well with the vampires. Definitely top form for the alpha. We get some new people, as well as truly intriguing and tricky villains. We have to leave behind the familiar though, which means saying goodbye to almost all the pack, Jesse and Aiden. We also don't get to see familiar fae pop up, but we do get some time - finally - with the vampire seethe again. I always found Marsilia annoying but in this book she's actually more than tolerable. She's not smug but she's reasonable. Dare I say likeable to a degree? The vampire politics got on my nerves before in previous books, but this time they work splendidly.
Stefan is around but mainly in the background, although he is definitely not a vanishing character. Sadly he only has a brief (less than one page) with Mercy again since I swear the author is determined to keep them apart because she's not sure what to do with them or something. The half page scene was awesome though.
Even if we shrug off the familiarity we know and love from the series, Briggs shows she is still strongly married to the series with fresh twists, inventive characters who still seem fresh and original, and this series hasn't grown tired at all. In fact more is developing for Mercy herself, and I'm already jonesing for the next book.
Oh, and there is an ending twist/surprise that brings a smile and laugh. Trust me, it's great.
Reviewed after receiving an ARC off Netgalley.
“Sometimes you wake up from a dream. Sometimes you wake up in a dream. And sometimes, every once in a while, you wake up in someone else's dream. ”