Another satisfying installment in the Mercy series, although there was somewhat of the flavor of an in-between book about it. That’s not really a criticism from me; when you are in a series for the long haul, it makes sense to take a breather and deal with all the events your characters have faced as well as integrate a feel of the everyday into their lives. At the end of Iron Kissed, there were at least two significant events that needed follow-up and I would have been disappointed in Briggs as a writer and as a woman if she didn’t allow her character recovery time.
Mercy’s attempting to manage her panic attacks when she gets a surprise visit from her mom that unfortunately coincides with a drop-in visit from Stefen, hungry and emaciated. The wolves help Stefen, but it’s the first sign that Marsilia, the vampire queen, knows about what happened to Andre in Blood Bound. Mercy’s business and the wolves will become targets as well. Strangely, at the same time, a frenemy from college shows up at Mercy’s door looking for help dealing with a ghost harassing her son. For the good of all, Mercy decides to travel to Amber’s home, with Stefen shadowing her as support in case she runs into the infamous vampire Blackwood.
The first time I read this, pacing felt very irregular to me. But that’s kind of a bonus, as series tend towards predictable arcs. Still, there’s some strange authorial choices–Stefan, Mercy’s mom and Amber all showing up at the same time? Peculiar, and the sort of stuff that says “hello, red herring” to the reader in an overly dramatic way. The relationship progresses in generally positive ways. Adam gives Mercy more than enough space, except late in the book when he panics. I thought it a nice balancing act of characterization, as it avoids the ‘perfect boyfriend/imperfect girlfriend’ baloney and shows that Adam makes mistakes as well.
Once again, except for surface conversations with frenemy Amber, Mercy has no real female bonding moments. Everyone–and thing–is male. If it’s female, it is not a friend. Seriously, Briggs? What’s with the authorial choice there? Reading these stories back to back makes it painfully obvious that there’s some odd mental schism in the author’s world. I think it ended up contributing to me dropping the series, because in between life-threatening events, it’s mostly about Mercy’s emotions surrounding her male relationships. All that said, Marsilia continues as one of the most fascinating and complex characters, even if she’s prefer to see Mercy dead.
Three and a half stars, rounding down because… women.