After Doomsday Book sucked me in and broke my heart, I was having a hard time getting into a new book. I had a non-fiction book I was slowly working through, but I needed a fictional story to settle me down. So I turned to re-reading a favorite series, the Mercy Thompson books by Patricia Briggs. There are currently six books in total and the above photo shows them in chronological order, with the first book on top.
This urban fantasy series features a Volkswagon mechanic named Mercy Thompson, who also happens to be a coyote shapeshifter. Raised by werewolves in Montana, she now calls the Tri-Cities area of Eastern Washington state her home. The area is heavily populated by various supernatural groups. Besides werewolves (and Mercy), there are vampires, fey and ghosts. Humans live there too of course. Some are Mercy’s friends, some are her enemies, and some are unpredictable.
I read the first book, Moon Called, in early summer 2008. It is a true fact that Moon Called was in the same library haul as Twilight, coincidentally another urban fantasy book featuring vampires and werewolves in the state of Washington. I started Twilight first, but when my interest lagged a third of the way through, I picked up Moon Called. I happily zipped right through Moon Called and didn’t look back.
This summer was the first time re-reading the series and let me tell you that a Mercy Thompson marathon is the way to do it. Over a period of several weeks, I read all six books in a row. This experience melded the individual books together, and I become much more attuned to the story arcs and character development spanning the entire series. For instance, in the first book, Mercy has friends but not really much in the way of family. Though she grew up with werewolves, she definitely didn’t feel like she was one of them. Her foster werewolf parents died when she was a teenager. She’s on good terms with her birth mother and her step-sisters and step-father, but they aren’t a regular part of her life. As the series progresses, we see her acquire a family in the form of the local wolf pack. It’s not an easy transition for her or for them, but in the later books, there is a definite sense that she belongs with them.
One of the things I love about the Mercy Thompson series is that Briggs creates platonic relationships that are just as interesting and important as the romantic relationships. Raise your hand if you’ve read several books where the romantic relationship trumps all, and all other relationships are perfunctory and filler. Not so here. The secondary characters of Briggs’ books are awesome, have their own concerns and stories, and Mercy’s relationships with them are not static, but also develop and change over time. At this point, I’m particularly interested in where the story is going for Ben, the British werewolf packmember with a troubled past; Stefan, a vampire who is incredibly loyal but also possesses flexible morality; and Jessie, Adam’s unsupernatural teenage daughter who has started taking on larger roles in the story.
Reading the series in a row helped me understand why I was slightly disappointed in Silver Borne (#5) the first time around. Its plot and emotional impact were greatly enhanced by fresh familiarity with the events of the previous books. While Briggs’ refreshes the reader’s memory with little expository tidbits, the best reading experience means not depending on those tidbits for full context.
I had forgotten some of the details and so I got to enjoy some of the twists and turns again, and some genuinely creepy moments. Vampires crawling up basement stairs, Mercy realizing a friend has turned into a zombie, monsters hiding in rivers. I’m just saying, could make for some great October reading. Wink wink.
Anyway, ignore the terrible covers (there’s a reason the photo is of their spines), and check this series out. This summer, as I finished reading them, I lent them to my friend Cindy who had never read urban fantasy before and she lapped them right up. My sisters are fans too. Looking forward to number 7 which is out March 2013.