Published 2011 324 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
Car mechanic Mercy Thompson has always known there was something different about her, and not just the way she can make a VW engine sit up and beg. Mercy is a coyote shapeshifter, a talent she inherited from her long-gone father. And she's never known any others of her kind. Until now.
As Mercy takes in this new information, an evil is stirring in the depths of the Columbia River. Something deadly is coming, facts are thin on the ground and Mercy feels ill at ease. However, her father's people may know more. To have any hope of surviving, Mercy and her mate, the Alpha werewolf Adam, will need all the resources the shifters can offer. Or death will be the least of their worries.
River Marked is the sixth book in the Mercy Thompson urban fantasy series by bestselling fantasy author, Patricia Briggs. While each book is a self-contained mystery or adventure (so technically you could read the books out of order) we’re six books into an overarching story arc that threads its way throughout the series so I’d recommend reading the books in order for maximum enjoyment. And enjoy them you will, because Patricia Briggs is a writer at the top of her game – consistently delivering high quality urban fantasy thrills and spills.
River Marked is a book of two parts. The first third of the book sees Mercy finally get married to Adam and go on her honeymoon, a camping trip to the Columbia River gorge. For series fans this is a chance to see Mercy, the series protagonist, doing normal everyday activities (okay, normal if you’re a shapeshifter who’s marring a werewolf) and it’s strangely mundane compared to the usual action-packed whirlwind of supernatural adventure that normally follows in her wake. Usually Patricia Briggs easily manages the trickiest of urban fantasy balancing acts, delivering fast-paced action and believably fleshed-out characters that exist to do far more than just carry the plot but in this part of the story the action level is noticeably absent. Long running LoveVampires readers will know how much I bitch about action-driven books with unrealistic one-dimensional characters… so it seems more than a little odd for me to be bitching about the character-driven part of this story. I think I tuned in expecting instant supernatural thrills and got to read about bridal dresses, wedding cake and church decorations instead – which seemed dull by comparison.
The second two thirds of the book was more in keeping with what I initially expected – danger, mystery, a people-eating supernatural monster, magic and mayhem. The action starts a few days into Adam and Mercy’s camping trip when they realise something fishy is going on in the river and it’s not just the river fish (if you’ll excuse the pun.) Something lurking in the river makes a grab for Mercy, leaving her river marked and with a creepy dream state connection to whatever is lurking in the hidden depths of the Columbia River.
Briggs adds Native American mythology into her already bulging bag of fantasy beasties and manages to seamlessly incorporate them into her fantasy world without getting caught up on the different mythological ideologies. The Native American myths and characters work well both in their connection to Mercy’s hitherto unexplored heritage and the wider fantasy setting. While reading River Marked it doesn’t seem in any way odd that fae from the Old Country would partner up with a Native American River Devil. Even Coyote the trickster, and source of Mercy’s shapeshifting ability, comes out to play giving Mercy a chance to find out more about her powers – although Coyote isn’t the most informative or reliable of sources.
River Marked is a solid addition to the Mercy Thompson series and while the action is perhaps a little slow to start the story more than makes up for lost time once the excitement finally kicks-off. It’s the story of a werewolf and a coyote on a camping trip that turns into a dangerous monster hunt - what’s not to like about that?
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