Friday, March 21, 2014

Review: Night Broken by Patricia Briggs

Night Broken by Patricia Briggs
published by Berkley (Ace) in March 2014
An unexpected phone call heralds a new challenge for Mercy. Her mate Adam’s ex-wife is in trouble, on the run from her new boyfriend. Adam isn’t the kind of man to turn away a person in need—and Mercy knows it. But with Christy holed up in Adam’s house, Mercy can’t shake the feeling that something about the situation isn’t right.

Soon, her suspicions are confirmed when she learns that Christy has the farthest thing from good intentions. She wants Adam back and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen, including turning Adam’s pack against Mercy.

Mercy isn’t about to step down without a fight, but there’s a more dangerous threat circling. Christy’s ex is more than a bad man—in fact, he may not be human at all. As the bodies start piling up, Mercy must put her personal troubles aside to face a creature with the power to tear her whole world apart.
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Mercy Thompson, Book #8

The Story: After the epic ending of Fair Game, all the fae have supposedly retreat to the reservations. As such, Alistair Beauclair is the last person Mercy expected to find on her doorstep in the middle of the night. Immediately, Mercy knows that the presence of the Gray Lord who has declared the fae independent from the US can't be good news. Her fears are confirmed when he demands that Mercy returns his father's artifact, the walking stick, to him. The only problem is that Mercy is no longer in possession of the walking stick, having given it to Coyote for safe-keeping. Now, Mercy has one week to retrieve and return it or else... With the clock ticking, Mercy needs to find a way to contact Coyote, and fast.

As if Mercy doesn't have enough on her plate, she also has to put up with Christy, Adam's ex-wife. Christy is in trouble, on the run from her last boyfriend, and with nowhere to go, has sought refuge in Mercy and Adam's house. Dealing with Christy is trying Mercy's patience, especially since Christy is well-liked by the Pack members and the obvious history she has with Adam, the Pack and the house. And things get dangerous when Christy's ex-boyfriend turns out to be a lot more than just a human stalker...

My Opinion: For the past few years, I've always looked forward to the month of February/March because it usually meant a new book by Ms Briggs... and this year was no exception :) It's funny because I held off on the Mercy Thompson series as long as I could, but in the end, Ms Briggs's writing and world building won me over :P Unfortunately, those weren't enough this time around and as happy as I was to get my annual fix, Night Broken was a bit of a mixed bag for me ^_^;

The biggest problem I had with Night Broken is that it felt too much like a transitional book. There were some good elements such as the walking stick storyline and Gary Laughingdog, but Ms Briggs was so busy setting up for the next book (which I'm pretty sure will be about the fae) that Night Broken lacked complexity. Everything about this book was quite straightforward from identifying the villain to defeating him; contacting Coyote and getting the walking stick back. As a result, there was no real suspense... Yes, there was a feeling of urgency because of Mercy's deadline to get back the walking stick, but that's not the same as the "edge of your seat" feeling. In addition, the two main plots really read as two separate stories. They did intersect a little, but it didn't feel as smooth as usual, especially when you factor in the random set-up scenes: the new werewolf, the revelation about Stefan, Tad, etc. Oh and the ending was really abrupt and so the story felt unfinished. I mean, I checked several times to make sure it was the last page and there wasn't more ^_^;

One thing that I wasn't fond of when I picked up Night Broken was Christy's introduction. After reading the blurb, I really dreaded that part. Who likes to read about the ex-wife coming back in the picture, especially when you know she's likely to be a bitch? Not me... but I have to say Ms Briggs handled that part quite well. So Christy is not very likable, but she's not evil either... just very flawed and that came across really clearly. Also, I thought Ms Briggs captured Mercy's feelings very well. However, seeing Christy's interactions with the Pack, it made me realized I'm tired of the way some of them treat Mercy. It baffles me that a lot of the Pack members still think of Mercy as a liability. Seriously?! She's saved Adam and the Pack at least twice, got rid of a river devil monster, survived a fairy queen and vampires... Not to mention that she has the favor of the Marrock and Samuel, was actually raised in their Pack, and so probably understands Pack politics even better than werewolves themselves. And she's a liability?! What does she has to do to open their eyes? I usually really enjoy Pack dynamics and the Mercy Thompson series has one of the best portrayals of them, but frankly, this issue is getting old. Then, when you factor in that the Pack seems to be more accepting of Christy who is a human as mate/wife than Mercy who is a paranormal creature, it simply doesn't make sense :(

It sounds like I had a lot of complaints, but in truth, I still enjoyed Night Broken a lot. I was happy to see Coyote making a reappearance and I really liked Gary Laughingdog. I hope that his character sticks around and develops a relationship with Mercy :) We also got to know some other Pack werewolves a bit better which is always nice. And as I mentioned above, I really liked the walking stick storyline :P

My Grade: Based on all the set-up Ms Briggs did in Night Broken, I have a feeling that the next book in the series is going to be epic and I can't wait to read it! For now though, Night Broken has to pay the price for being a transitional book and that's why it gets a B-.