Patricia Briggs, Silver Borne, 2010.
I blame Felicia Day and her twitter feed for my first reading Briggs and her series about a mechanic, Mercedes Thompson, who shifts into being a coyote and whose personal life is a little too intertwined with werewolves. In many ways, it’s very traditional fantasy: a great deal of thought has been put into the nature of werewolves and their pack dynamics (and their revelation of their existence to the wider world), into the fae, into witches and magic and vampires. Underlying each novel to date in the series (and I don’t seem to have blogged about them, but have read each one—embarrassment?) is an acknowledged debt to existing mythology and a clever attempt to update it and bring it into our own world. Its weaknesses, as a series, stem from another convention of too much of contemporary fantasy: the novels verge too often on slipping into the harlequin-esque romance style, and the depth of reliance on mythology and the sheer creativity of the milieu Mercedes inhabits is the saving grace.
This novel is the fifth in the series (after Moon Crossed, Blood Bound, Iron Kissed, and Bone Crossed), and is not my favourite of the lot. Its plot revolves around an attempt on Mercy’s life, fae who want an object in her possession, werewolves trying to upset the pack dynamics, and a werewolf on the verge of ending his life. The elements of the plot fail to cohere sufficiently well: ideas are introduced but not sustained, and emerge later, half-forgotten. The entire suplot of the werewolf unhappy with his existence is weak and implausible given what we know of him from the other books in the series. Finally, the denouement is so scattered and diffuse that it feels like Ms. Briggs simply didn’t know how to bring the story to a successful conclusion. I do hope that the next volume returns to the quality of the earlier books in this series.