Night Broken by Patricia Briggs
Just finished reading Night Broken, the 8th book in Patricia Brigg’s Mercedes series which I really enjoyed. As with any series like this there can be peaks and troughs. I didn’t particularly enjoy River Marked for example, for me, it felt like it went a little bit off track – or maybe it was simply because the majority of the story was based on Mercedes and Adam. However, the last book Frost Burned turned me around again and this book feels like a really solid edition in the series. In fact, taken as a whole I now like River Marked a lot more than I originally gave it credit for – Briggs is slowly turning this into something else. It’s not just a series of books with a bunch of random adventures each time. Everything is connected and the characters and world are adapted further and grow in intensity, likability and depth with each new edition.
At the start of the book life seems to be ticking along relatively smoothly for Mercedes until Adam’s ex wife, Christy, rings. She’s running away from her boyfriend who appears to have become possessive and physically abusive and she’s called on Adam and his pack for protection. Of course Adam can’t really turn her away in her hour of need, apart from the fact that she’s the mother of his child he is, lets face it, a bit of a pushover for a damsel in distress. So Christy moves right back in – literally picking up with the pack and the house as though she’d never been away. I confess I didn’t like Christy very much and struggled in my mind to see what attraction she would ever have had for Adam. Okay, she’s an attractive woman, soft and feminine and quite the opposite of Mercedes in virtually every way but she’s also a scheming and manipulative mare whose only experience of the truth seems to be in finding ways in which to bend it! You could say that she’s very careful with the truth, if you were feeling generous you could say that! If not then you might call her a few expletives which I won’t put here. Unfortunately her lack of forthright honesty is about to put everyone in great danger as the ‘boyfriend’ she is running from is much more than at first suspected.
Now, just in case this all sounds very pedestrian and not quite the rough and tumble, anxiety packed fight for life that we’ve almost come to expect from Mercedes, yes, there is a little bit more of a ’slowed down’ feel to this book but in spite of that it’s one of my favourites so far. This book spent more time integrating Mercy into the pack and establishing her relationship with others. I like Mercy, she’s a strong character and through the series she’s definitely changed. She started off as a loner, working hard and having very little time for anything or anyone else. Gradually though she’s adapted. She has Adam now and is part of his pack and family. She can’t always just think about herself but has to stop and consider her actions in terms of the impact they’ll have on others. On top of that she is in no way the toughest of the bunch but that doesn’t make her into a shrinking violet, she stands her ground even when she’s actually shaking inside with fear. I like that Mercy is a flawed character, she’s not perfect and like the rest of us she has her own insecurities and petty jealousies to deal with.
Alongside the domestics, never fear, Briggs has spiced up the story. This isn’t all about who has the longest eyelashes and can bat them the most effectively whilst baking the perfect batch of cookies – Briggs has injected her usual helping of ‘nasty’ and also come up with a whole new deity! Well, probably not new exactly but certainly one that I haven’t read about before. He may be wrapped up in a human package but he’s the furthest thing from human and very difficult to eliminate – particularly as he seems to be accompanied by two fearsome, huge black canines who seem to have stepped straight out of hell. We also have the appearance of the fey as one of the Grey Lords makes himself known to Mercy – with a none too subtle request for her to return to him one of the fey artefacts that came in useful in a number of previous stories – and you don’t want to disappoint this particular Grey Lord – his idea of anger can lead to tsunamis and mass destruction on an apocalyptic level! Of course retrieving this is going to be far from easy, particularly as it’s now in the hands of Coyote and we all know how tricksy he can be.
There’s appearances from a few other favourites. Stefan briefly makes a show and we learn more of the bond (and the feelings) he has for Mercy. Tad shows up at a very opportune moment and we make the acquaintance of one of Coyote’s other children, appropriately named Gary Laughingdog. Half brother to Mercy who was quite useful to have around in a fix with his prophetic visions of the future. I think he will probably make return appearances in future stories and I quite look forward to that.
In terms of criticisms, yes, I had a few, but they were really minor. Just niggles really – like, other than a strange plot device to provoke jealousy, how come Adam never answered his own phone! It’s a mobile phone – which means it goes with you – and who the hell answered his phone before Christy returned to the marital home?? See, small time niggles, nothing to get excited about.
I really enjoyed this and probably the biggest problem was it came to an end all too suddenly, I wanted more and it’s going to feel like a long wait now. This is without doubt a strong contender to be one of my favourite urban fantasies, Briggs has managed to come up with not just a main protagonist who you can’t help liking, but a whole cast of characters that you will become equally attached to. She’s also a bit tricksy herself, there are a few twists and turns along the way, plotlines that you just have to run with because they will ultimately twist together into a unified thread not to mention a complete curveball towards the end which for a few moments made me sit bolt upright with my mouth gaping open very attractively!