River Marked (Mercy Thompson book 6) by Patricia Briggs (book review).
‘River Marked’ is book 6 in the ‘Mercy Thompson’ series and I would suggest you read in order as there are elements of world-building in each book that only make sense in order. As this is book 6 in the series, there are going to be spoilers in this review so please stop reading unless you have read the first five books!
This time Mercy and Adam have recently become husband and wife and have gone on their honeymoon to a lovely secluded camp site. Everything seems idyllic and wonderful, which if you know Mercy at all means that something is about to kick off. Not only is there a nasty monster known as the River Devil living in the Columbia River but Mercy gets a short course on her American Indian ancestry, complete with meeting a few of their totems. Mercy also gets a visit from the man she believes is her father, but he appears to her as a ghost, which is a little disconcerting as she is the only character in these books who can see ghosts.
There’s something in the water! That’s the basic theme for this book as there is something really nasty, well actually a few things that aren’t pleasant if you happen to fancy a dip. As you can probably guess Mercy takes a dip. Adam refrains, as werewolves have a tendency to sink in water due to their low fat content and high muscle mass. so Mercy gets to know this river monster and her evil otter minions intimately alone. In fact, she is river marked by the water dwelling nasty so she seems to be able to view things that the creature gets up to in her dreams which causes Mercy more a little anxiety. Mercy does seem to have gotten off lightly as the others who have come into contact with the River Devil have either lost limbs or their lives and, once marked by the creature, you are then under her influence to feed others to her.
I love this series of books both for the great characters and also the amount of work Patricia Briggs puts into her world-building. Each book builds on the one before and also adds new and interesting elements such as the new information about shape-changers in this book. I really enjoyed the shape-changing and also the Native American elements in this book and found them fascinating and also well handled. It was really interesting to find out about the ways that the Native Americans made different impressions in the world around them such as painting on the cliff faces and also carving elements to remember things and pass down stories.
As I mentioned before, this book doesn’t take place in the company of the usual characters. In fact, all we have are Mercy and Adam along with occasional phone calls to other long standing characters. At first, this felt a little odd as we begin the book talking about weddings and then we lose all the main characters, this book also doesn’t revolve around the usual pack/vampire/city politics that previous books have. However, this means that we get to meet a lot of new characters who we aren’t sure are as trustworthy as they at first appear. I really enjoyed getting to know the new humans along with the Native American totem animals and really hope that they appear in further books and aren’t just lost by the wayside. I think there is still a lot more to learn about Mercy’s interesting roots than we learn in this book. I loved that Briggs made the Native American myths and the creatures from them seem to work well with the European Fae that they encounter, maybe this shows that they could move into the main story arch within this series?
Overall, I feel that this book is very different to the others in the series as it deals with Mercy’s Native American heritage which hasn’t happened at all previously. Plus it doesn’t seem to fit into the usual story arch of dealing with the various political problems within Mercy’s life. However, I do think it gives the reader a lot more insight into the relationship with Mercy and Adam and shows that just because they’re now married, it doesn’t meant that things are ever going to settle down. I want to keep reading these books to see whether Briggs brings Mercy’s Native American background further into her life within the werewolf pack. Personally, I find this series of books to be among my most favourite in the urban fantasy type genre as they are really well written and do not rely at all on gratuitous violence or sex scenes. I will be reading these books as long as Briggs keeps writing them.
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(pub: Orbit, 2011. 324 page small enlarged paperback. Price: £ 7.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84149-797-6)
check out websites: www.orbitbooks.net and www.patriciabriggs.com