Review: River Marked

Posted: May 4, 2011 by in Books We Like (4/5 single_star) Meta: Patricia Briggs, Urban Fantasy

Mercy’s life changed when she moved to tri-cities Washington. Since then she’s had run-ins with vampires and demons, lived next door to the a werewolf pack’s Alpha, collected a fae artifact or two along the way–and has risked her life several times to help her friends. But now, in RIVER MARKED (Amazon), we get to see something a little more personal about Mercy: her Native American heritage.

Mercy is engaged to marry Adam Hauptman, Alpha of the Columbia Basin werewolf back. She may not be a werewolf, herself, but Mercy can hold her own. She’s a ‘walker’, a shape-shifter who can become a coyote–an ability she inherited from her Native American father, and which has served her well in the past when she’s had to fight the vampires and fae she inevitably comes in contact with.

Early in the novel Mercy and Adam get married, and hope for a nice, private honeymoon. Of course, that’s not what they get. Instead they get a river monster, straight out of American Indian mythology.

But they can’t fight the monster alone: the local Indian shaman and friends lend a hand, as well as Coyote. Yes, the god Coyote from Native American mythology–the one who long ago didn’t kill the river monster when he had the chance. Remember that Mercy can turn into a coyote? It turns out that Coyote may have had something to do with that…

This series is a great palate cleanser--delightful and entertaining. You could read RIVER MARKED without having read the previous ones.

If you enjoyed the other books in Patricia Briggs‘ Mercy Thompson series, then RIVER MARKED (book 6) will not only continue with the characters you love so much, but you get to see Mercy and Adam grow and change, and learn a little bit about Mercy’s heritage. I enjoy Adam and Mercy’s relationship, how they work as a team and trust each other, how they respect their limitations and allow flaws without letting it ruin the relationship. Unfortunately we don’t get to see much of the regular gang; but that’s not necessarily a bad thing since we actually get to see a lot of time with Adam and Mercy together.

Coyote in particular is a fun character–you can tell that Briggs has done her homework. Seeing his interactions, behaviors, and willingness to sacrifice made him engaging; I hope I get to see him again in the series. The other characters aren’t more than shallow surfaces, but since it’s a short book there really wasn’t time for much else. And as usual, Briggs’ world is multi-faceted. While she uses extant mythologies and locations, she weaves them deftly into her stories.

You’ve likely grown familiar with Briggs’ prose and straightforward storytelling, and here it continues as easy-to-read as ever. The plot moves along at a good clip, revealing things at key points, all leading up to the exciting conclusion. Usually Briggs has a convoluted scene or explanation in her books; but not this time, everything was clear and engaging.

This series is a great palate cleanser–delightful and entertaining. You could read RIVER MARKED without having read the previous ones. But if you’re an urban fantasy lover, you should read all the books, starting with MOON CALLED (Amazon).

  • Recommended Age: 14+
  • Language: A mere handful of uses
  • Violence: A fair amount, since people die, but it's on par with similar books
  • Sex: Nothing graphic, but Adam and Mercy are on their honeymoon, so it's talked about

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