Jumpdrives & Cantrips

Iron Kissed
February 11, 2008, 2314
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , , ,

Iron KissedPatricia Briggs is an amazing writer: not one of her books has been a dud (granted, I did not read her first novel, Masques, but none of the others have been duds), and each one steadily improves upon the last. Her Mercy Thompson series is no different. And this series has spent substantial time on the New York Times Bestseller list, with a spin-off series in the works. No surprise there, as urban fantasy seems to be the “subgenre du jour” and getting a lot of attention because of it.

In Iron Kissed, our favourite coyote shape-shifting VW mechanic enters the Walla Walla Fae Reservation after her mentor Zee secures her help to find a murderer amongst the Fae community. When the murderer is found violently killed by inhuman means with Zee on the scene, Mercy feels obliged to clear her friend’s name. While dealing with human anti-Fae groups and immortal Fae Lords who don’t take well to curious coyotes, Mercy also must juggle her relationship woes. After all, it’s not easy having two extremely dominant, territorial alpha werewolves vying for her love.

If I have one complaint about this book, it’s that the love triangle is handled somewhat anticlimactically. That said, it is refreshing to see Mercy have the chance to be self-aware enough to analyze her feelings without a) both relationships going to pot and b) having a massive possessive werewolf love showdown. If Patricia Briggs is exceptional at one thing with urban fantasy, it’s taking the genre expectations and looking at them from another perspective. Having the relationship issue decided is a relief in the series, and it will be nice to have a character that can move on to other worries.

There is no end of worries for our heroine, who already had panic attacks relating to the trauma she suffered at the hands of vampires and demons in the previous novel. Near the end of the story a character violates Mercy so completely that it is a wonder she doesn’t go to pieces permanently. Since this is the third book, it makes you wonder how much worse things can get by the time the seventh book rolls around (Briggs is currently contracted for a total of seven Mercedes Thompson books according to her site). This part of the story is handled in a sensitive and honest manner, which impressed me. It’s not often a character’s emotional and thought processes unfold so organically and as deftly as Briggs does with Mercy.

Iron Kissed has a lot of history from the previous two books in the series influencing it, so while it’s possible to read as a stand-alone, there are subtle things that get glossed over without context. But then, I’ve never really been able to start in the middle of a series without being a little cranky about it. Readers of the other two books will notice a notable absence of vampires in this book. This makes me curious what the league of bloodsuckers will do next, as I’m pretty certain they’ll play a central role in the next book.

It’s unfortunate that Iron Kissed flows so naturally from the page; this makes it a quick read, and one that I didn’t want to put down once it finished.

Briggs, Patricia. Iron Kissed. New York: Ace Books, 2008. 287 pages. $10.99 (Canadian).