Title: Bone Crossed
Author: Patricia Briggs
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Ace Books (Penguin)
Publication Date: February 2008
Hardcover: 320 pages
Stand alone or series: Book 4 in the ongoing Mercy Thompson series.
Why did I read this book: The Mercy Thompson books are some of my very favorites in the Urban Fantasy genre, and Patricia Briggs is one of those amazing authors who I have read since middle school. I absolutely loved Iron Kissed, and Bone Crossed was easily one of my most highly anticipated books of 2009…so when I received my ARC and a chance to interview Ms. Briggs, it was a no-brainer!
Also, we’re giving away a copy of Bone Crossed! Details follow after the review.
Summary: (from amazon.com)
In a world where “witches, vampires, werewolves, and shape-shifters live beside ordinary people” (Booklist), it takes a very unusual woman to call it home. By day, Mercy Thompson is a car mechanic in Eastern Washington. By night, she explores her preternatural side. As a shape-shifter with some unusual talents, Mercy’s found herself maintaining a tenuous harmony between the human and the not-so- human on more than one occasion. This time she may get more than she bargained for.
**NOTE: THE FOLLOWING REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST THREE MERCY NOVELS. IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE FIRST THREE BOOKS AND WISH TO REMAIN UNSPOILED, AVERT YOUR VIRGIN EYES!**
Bone Crossed begins immediately following the dramatic and tragic events of Iron Kissed. After being raped and beaten–and then ripping her attacker to shreds through her drugged haze–coyote shapeshifter (a “walker”) and VW mechanic Mercy Thompson is still incredibly shaken. She decides that she will not let her assailant cow her and make her live her life in fear of others, and she boldly tries to fully accept her mate-bond with Adam (the Tri-Cities pack Alpha whom Mercy has accepted as her mate in the previous book). She soon discovers that despite her anger at feeling victimized, she still has a long way to go before she is fully over her traumatic ordeal.
Luckily (or perhaps not so luckily), distractions arrive in the form of Mercy’s mother–though hurt because she had to hear about her daughter’s rape through national news, she’s willing to be there for her daughter–and then the unexpected appearance of Stefan. Mercy’s Scooby Doo loving vampire friend teleports into Mercy’s trailer…during daylight. Stefan is seriously burned and emaciated, a walking death wish to any living, warm blooded folks around him. Adam, with the help of the pack, is able to keep Stefan alive, but it’s clear that someone intended him to kill Mercy–two of his three words of warning to her ring ominously: “She knows.”
In Blood Bound (book 2), Mercy worked with the local vampire seethe, enlisted by the local Vampire Queen Marsilia to find a dangerous demon-ridden vampire responsible for a string of brutal murders in the Tri-Cities area. Mercy discovered that the dangerous sorcerer-vampire was actually Andre (Marsilia’s right hand man)’s creation, and that with Andre’s help, Marsilia planned on creating more of these creatures. With the help of Stefan and the pack, Mercy was able to kill the demon-vampire, and to ensure Marsilia would not be able to create any more like it, Mercy and the gang also killed Andre. Fast forward two books later, and Marsilia has learned who was responsible for Andre’s death, and now she has a death warrant out over Mercy’s head. When Marsilia has Mercy’s body shop spray painted and decorated with a curse mark stating as much, Mercy now faces every vampire, witch and renegade supernatural creature gunning for her death. Not only does this present a problem for Mercy’s life expectancy, but it also threatens the local werewolf pack as Mercy has officially become Adam’s mate and the pack is obligated to protect her from any threats. Unfortunately for Mercy, most of the pack already weren’t thrilled with having a Walker for their Alpha’s mate, and the news of the vampires gunning for her threatens their already crumbling unity.
Matters are further complicated when Amber Chamberlain, an old sort-of-friend shows up on Mercy’s doorstep and asks for her help, claiming that there is a ghost in her house and that it is terrorizing her son. Figuring that she might as well get out of the Tri-Cities until Adam and the Pack can negotiate a truce with the Vampires, Mercy makes off for Amber’s home in Spokane. There she finds a strange, malevolent ghostly presence like no other she has seen before and she manages to stumble into an even bigger problem with the master vampire who maintains sole possession of the city, whom everyone refers to as “the Monster”.
Needless to say, there’s an awful lot going on in Bone Crossed–not only is Mercy facing death threats from the spiteful Marsilia, she’s also got her hands full with a very old and powerful vampire who wants to enslave Mercy as his own. Not to mention the pressures being put on her by the werewolf pack to fully accept Adam’s bond–and she’s still fragile and hurting from the events in Iron Kissed! It’s a tall order, but Mercedes Thompson meets all these obstacles with her trademark frank level-headedness.
As usual, Ms. Briggs’s characterizations are in top form in Bone Crossed. One of the many things that draws me back to Mercy time and time again is her no-frills attitude, her empathy, and above all, her intelligence. Mercy’s neither the bad-attitude-super-bitch nor is she a weepy damsel in distress–like the Popeye song goes, she is who she is. Mercy tackles all of the problems facing her head-on, refusing to make herself some poor martyr. When the pack is threatened because Marsilia has a vendetta against her, Mercy accepts the pack’s protection and help (instead of stupidly trying to go it alone). When the pack snarls and bristles at Mercy’s rank when she’s just a mere coyote, she is able to stand up for herself and establish her place as Adam’s mate. When things get hairy out in Spokane with James Blackwood (aka “The Monster”) and Mercy realizes that no one can come out and save her, she does what she needs to do to save herself. I really appreciated the fact that Ms. Briggs also took under careful consideration Mercy’s state of mind following the harrowing events of Iron Kissed. There is no reboot, magically-all-better button for this character–she’s a rape victim with her story splashed across national headlines, and this clearly takes a toll on her during Bone Crossed. Physical intimacy with Adam, though she trusts him and loves him, triggers panic attacks, and it’s only gradually that Mercy is able to work out some of her issues. Her fear of being vulnerable plays into her narrative in Bone Crossed in a huge way–and it makes her decisions later in the story all the more poignant.
I was extremely happy to see Stefan return in this latest novel, as well as a reemergence of the vampires storyline from book 2. Stefan is in an incredibly interesting character–for all that he seems harmless and a good friend to Mercy, puttering around in his Mystery Machine, he’s also one of the strongest vampires in the Tri-Cities. Also, his motivations are always slightly suspicious, as seen in his role in Blood Bound–this latest novel explores Stefan’s loyalties and feelings beautifully. As for the rest of the bloodsuckers, they are in true terrifying form. The storyline involving Marsilia and her seethe is wonderfully excecuted; vampire politics are very complicated (a byproduct of their immortality, one supposes), but everything comes together in the end and makes sense (in a twisted vampire kind of way).
And–what I’m sure most folks have been waiting for–there’s Adam and Mercy’s relationship. In Iron Kissed Mercy puts an end to the romantic triangle by choosing Adam Hauptman over old love (and heartbreak) Samuel. Just because Mercy has accepted Adam as her partner, however, doesn’t mean that they are a bonded pair. Since Mercy also happens to be a Walker and not a werewolf, the ties of pack magic are even more complicated. Regardless of these complications, Mercy and Adam’s relationship takes a huge step forward in Bone Crossed. Adam doesn’t play as large a role in this installment, but the presence he does have with Mercy, comforting her, giving her the space and respect she needs is truly heart-warming (melting?). To be fair, I was always gunning for Adam, so I was giddy to see the two of them finally together in this novel. To those curious out there, biting their nails and hoping for an answer: YES. Mercy and Adam go the final mile. They round all the bases. Grand slam, outta the park home run…if you get my drift with all the baseball analogies.
BUT, I will say that Ms. Briggs keeps things interesting. Sam hasn’t quite faded from memory–he’s still around, and for a second there, Mercy seems to wonder if what they had could have been enough…I’ll be interested to see how this plays out in future novels!
Bone Crossed also brings a few more answers and interesting developments for Mercy as a Walker. To date, we haven’t seen any other Walkers, but her unusual powers and reactions to magic are explored much more in-depth in this latest book. Beyond just seeing and talking to ghosts, it turns out a Walker’s abilities encompass much, much more. This is a plotline that has been dangled tantalizingly since Moon Called and I cannot wait to see what the next book brings for Mercy!
As I have come to expect from Patricia Briggs, Bone Crossed is a riveting read. The plotting is superb and we get more of those characters we have grown to love. I couldn’t put this book down. My lone regret was the lack of presence of the Fey as the momentum of the series switched back to the vampires. Of course, you can’t have it all, and I expect we’ll see more of the fey in the next Mercy book. We’re introduced to a new, disturbing character in Bone Crossed (a certain mythological character who shall remain nameless in this review), who makes an interesting comment about Mercy–and I’m dying to see more of how it all plays out.
Notable Quotes/Parts: I loved this scene with Mercy diffusing the tension between Alpha boys Adam and Sam.
“What do you know about Blackwood?”
Adam’s voice and posture were just a little too aggressive for an Alpha standing in Samuel’s kitchen. Another day, another time, Samuel would have let it go. But he’d had a bad day…and I thought that the vampires hadn’t helped. He snarled and snapped a hand out to shove Adam back.
Adam caught it and knocked it away as he came to his feet.
Bad, I thought, carefully not moving. This was very bad. Power, rank with musk and pack, vibrated through the house, making the air thick.
Both of them were on edge. They were dominants–tyrants if I’d have allowed it. But their strongest, most urgent need was to protect.
And I’d been recently harmed while under their protection. Once with Tim and a second time with Blackwood–and to a lesser extent with Stefan. It left them both dangerously aggressive…Samuel was more dominant, but he wasn’t an Alpha. If it came to a fight, neither of them would fare well. In a few breaths, the pause before battle would stretch too long, and someone would die.
I grabbed my full-glass of juice and tossed it on them, putting out a forest fire with a thimbleful of cranberry juice. They were standing almost nose to nose, so I got them both. The rage in their eyes as they turned to me would have caused a lesser person to run. I knew better.
I ate a bite of pancake from Adam’s plate that attached itself like glue to the back of my throat. I reached across the table and took Samuel’s coffee cup and rinsed the sticky knot down my throat.
You can’t pretend not to be scared by werewolves. They know. But you can meet their eyes, if you’re tough enough. And if they let you.
Just one of the reasons I love Mercy so much–she knows how to handle big bad snarly wolves.
Also, if you haven’t already, make sure to check out the first chapter of Bone Crossed, available on the author’s website.
Verdict: Bone Crossed embodies everything I have come to love with this series and is the most gripping story to date. The character growth, the layered plot and the engaging writing makes this Mercy installment my favorite to date. Bone Crossed not only lives up to its massive hype–it surpasses it. Highly recommended.
Rating: 8 Excellent
Hey, we’re having a Giveaway! We are giving away ONE copy of this pretty new hardcover to a lucky winner! The contest is open to everyone and will run until Sunday February 1st at Noon (PST). To enter, simply leave a comment. For the heck of it, tell us why you love Mercy, and which guy you were rooting for–Adam or Sam?
ALSO STAY TUNED! On February 8th, Thea will get to meet and interview the talented Patricia Briggs! We’ll post the interview shortly after…and who knows, maybe throw in another giveaway.