Night Broken starts with Adam Hauptman answering an unexpected phone call from his ex-wife, Christy, tearfully telling him she’s in danger and can she please come stay with him – with them, because Adam and Mercy are married and living together now – for a few days until Adam and the pack scare off her stalker. What she doesn’t tell them is that Juan Flores isn’t human. She knows he isn’t vampire or fae, so she figures he’s a werewolf and will be no match for the pack. She’s wrong. Juan is much more dangerous than a werewolf and his obsession with Christy – mistaking her for his long-lost beloved – might just be the thing that gets Mercy, Adam, and all their friends killed.
This quick little fantasy story about shapeshifters, dingoes, and spirits is another delightful foray into the world of Charles de Lint. There’s magic, teen romance, bones and baobabs. Small-town high schooler Miguel meets Newford’s newest arrival, Lainey, when her family moves into town that summer from Australia and he immediately falls head over heels in love with her. Lainey isn’t exactly what she seems however. Her ancestors made a bargain that could cost her her life and her family has been on the run ever since. Lainey wants to stop running. Miguel will do anything to help her, but neither of them know exactly what will be necessary to secure her freedom, they’re going up against powerful spirits from the beginning of time, and their only other ally is the school bully. Is he turning over a new leaf by helping them? Or is he hoping to get the power of the dingo spirit for himself?
I’ve actually been avoiding Charles de Lint books for several years now; since skimming The Onion Girl in a Chapters one day to see what the author was like and almost immediately coming across a sexual assault I found very distressing. However a dear friend pressed The Blue Girl into my hands and assured me it was one of her all time favourite books and now that I’ve finished it I regret the years spent not reading de Lint’s works. Which are many. So let me introduce you to my first de Lint experience, The Blue Girl.
While you wouldn’t think a tattooed teen punk with gang ties would have much in common with a geeky, shy girl whose mother doesn’t even let her wear pants, the friendship Imogene and Maxine forge is grounded in things much stronger than fashion. The two ostracized girls are each others’ havens from the bullies that have plagued their high school years. Things are going reasonably smoothly until Imogene notices Adrian. Monster crush, you ask? No. Adrian is a ghost. He’s been haunting the school since his death, hanging out with a pack of fairies, and Imogene intrigues him; when they get to talking one day he tells her his story and tries to introduce her to the fairies. But she can’t perceive them. That bothers Adrian, but it’s when the fairies offer to “help” Imogene see them that things really go wrong. Their machinations bring Imogene to the attention of the some truly malicious creatures, and neither Imogene, nor Maxine, nor Adrian have any idea how to keep Imogene safe. It’s not just her life in danger. It’s her soul.
Alright I’m starting this review off with a tiny rant. Let’s talk cover art. Mercy is half native. She describes herself as looking tan “even in November.” Yet every one of the covers has her so white she’s practically translucent. She’s got dark, straight hair, feather earrings, and looks like she’d burn with 5 minutes of sun exposure on a cloudy day. Visible minorities, people. They’re a real thing.
You’d think a pack of werewolves would best most anything they came up against, and until Frost Burned you would be correct. I imagine they were as surprised as Mercy when a team swarmed Adam’s house (Mercy’s house too, since they got married in River Marked) and took down almost every single werewolf – and their families – in the pack in one fell swoop during Thanksgiving weekend. Mercy and Jesse escaped only because they were out braving the Black Friday crowds and caught wind of the scheme through the pack bonds. With only a wounded Ben to help, can Mercy stop the kidnappers and rescue the werewolves?
Neil Gaiman is a famous writer. This book is super famous. It got made into a movie. The movie is also famous. And full of famous people. I don’t remember how the movie went. So I can’t tell you which was better. They were both good. You could go watch the movie. And read the book. They both have very satisfying endings.
Briggs combines European fairy tales with Native American mythology in what should go down in history as one of the worst honeymoons ever. “No one gets attacked by magical creatures” isn’t exactly a high bar to clear to attain good honeymoon status, but it would make a pretty dull read. So Mercy and Adam have finally wed, and are off for a relaxing week camping in the Columbia Gorge. One of the powerful local fae has loaned them a trailer and use of a campground, in exchange for the duo checking up on some otterkin that aren’t where they were supposed to be. (Otterkin are shapeshifters that can change between human and otter. They’re not necessarily harmful. Nor benign.) Mercy and Adam stumble across something much more dangerous and powerful than the missing otterkin. Something that will take all their skills to defeat. While this time they have powerful allies, it may not be enough.
Charles and Anna take a vacation to Phoenix to meet one of Charles’ friends, Joseph Sani; a horse breeder with werewolves in the family. The trip is meant to be some time off from Charles’ job as his father’s enforcer. It starts off well. Until they discover a fae is stealing human children and replacing them with fetches, bundles of bespelled sticks that look and act enough like the child that most people don’t notice the difference. Until a fae casts a spell on Chelsea Sani, Joseph’s daughter-in-law and attempts to force her to kill her children, and herself. Chelsea has been hiding powers of her own, however, and though there are unexpected consequences, she keeps her family safe. As you may have guessed this story involves more child endangerment than the others have, as well as some descriptions of self-harm that readers could find troubling. It also includes lots of horses, so if you like horses this book should make you happy. If you dislike horses, just skim the riding parts. It’ll be fine.
One of the unexpected results of werewolves becoming public knowledge is that their particular skills can be used by various police agencies to help catch criminals. In Fair Game, Anna and Charles join the FBI in tracking down a vicious serial killer. One who isn’t content with kidnapping and simple murder. And who has begun including supernatural victims. With Charles’ magical abilities and their impressive sense of smell, the duo stand a good chance of making headway where the authorities have been stumped. Their involvement draws the killer’s eyes to them, and with someone already powerful enough to kill other werewolves is looking at you as a threat, it’s best to be on your guard. But with Charles distracted by the ghosts haunting him and Anna worried about what’s bothering him, will they notice the danger before it’s too late?
Are you the kind of person who brings a gun to a fist fight? Mercy Thompson is. (She’s not trying to cheat, don’t look at me like that.) She’s the person to have on your side when sneaky machinations threaten to bring your pack down. Or when the fae kidnap one of your friends to force you to give them an artifact. Mercy always does her best to help her friends, or those in need. She’s stubborn. Sneaky. Devoted. So when she goes to return a powerful fae book and finds the bookstore suspiciously closed down, the owner missing, and strangers helpfully offering to take anything the owner may have loaned her off her hands, it’s only natural she would try to solve the mystery. But this time the pack is falling apart around Adam, and his teenage daughter’s boyfriend suddenly disappears. Will Mercy be able to keep the book out of the wrong hands when she’s not even sure whose hands those are? Will she be able to help Adam keep the pack together? And what happened to Jesse’s boyfriend Gabriel? Briggs has churned out another fantastic installment to the Mercy Thompson series.
This was actually the first Mercy Thompson book that I read, picked up in a Wee Book Inn because the woman on the cover was holding a pry bar and that’s an unusual thing to see. I’ve since progressed to buying them in hard cover as Briggs writes them, because I can’t stand the thought of waiting a whole extra year for the paperback release. Of course, that doesn’t help between publications, but there’s only so much I have control over.
In Bone Crossed, the vampire seethe has taken issue with Mercy killing one of their clan (see Blood Bound for that story) and are out for vengeance. But because Mercy is in a relationship with the alpha of the local werewolf pack, coming after her directly would result in an all out vampire-werewolf war. So they target her friends. On top of that, an old college friend contacts Mercy for help with a ghost haunting her son. Since Mercy’s walker side (from her native father) lets her talk to ghosts, she travels to Spokane and spends a few days with Amber’s family. There’s only one vampire in Spokane. Mercy and her friends think she will be fine until the Tri-cities seethe settles down. Stops thirsting for her blood. But no one attracts the supernatural like Mercedes Thompson. It’d be a pretty boring story if everything went smoothly.