Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson book 10) by Patricia Briggs (book review).

There seem to be two approaches to contemporary urban fantasy. Often there is the need for secrecy, not allowing the mundane human population to become aware of the fact that dangerous supernatural beings live amongst them. The reasons given are prejudice and fear. Proponents of this approach are authors such as Jim Butcher in his ‘Dresden Files’ series or Kelley Armstrong’s ‘Otherworld’ books.

The other approach is to have the supernatural beings declare themselves and demand equal status with ordinary humans. The prejudice and fear is what adds spice to the stories. Charlaine Harris in her ‘Sookie Stackhouse’ novels follows this approach. There is a third way in which humans and supernaturals have always known about each other, such as in Nalini Singh’s ‘Archangel’ series.

In Patricia Briggs’ ‘Mercy Thompson series, of which ‘Silence Fallen’ is the tenth, she opts for a middle path. The werewolves are out but no-one must find out that vampires really exist. The demarcation is between alive and undead, between those who are capable of dwelling alongside humans and those who need to feed off them to continue their existence. Mercy Thompson is a coyote-shifter, married to Adam Hauptman, alpha of the Columbia Basin werewolf pack. They are based in the Tri-Cities, which they have developed as neutral ground where different supernatural races can co-exist.

Leaving the other members of the pack playing pirates, Mercy goes to the local store to buy more of the ingredients she needs to make cookies and is abducted. When she recovers consciousness, she is in Italy, captive of Iacopo Bonarata. He is the most powerful vampire in Europe, possibly the world and has an addiction for werewolf blood. Mercy manages to escape and, hiding in the luggage compartment of a coach, ends up in Prague. Meanwhile, Adam is searching for her.

Unlike most of the books of this kind, the narrative is told partly in first person, from Mercy’s point of view and partly in third person, following the activities of rescue party. It is not told totally linearly as passages overlap each other along the timeline. The title of the book comes from the idea that because of the distance between them, the mate bond between Mercy and Adam is so attenuated that it is effectively broken, making the rescue more difficult. So, while Adam and co. are negotiating Mercy’s release while pretending they don’t know she has escaped, Bonarata is attempting to deceive them.

In Prague, Mercy is finding that trouble that usually follows her. She has made contact with Libor, the alpha of the local werewolf pack, and attracted the attention of the ghosts that haunt a city of this age, including the spirit of the golem. Throw in a witch-vampire who has discovered a way to make vampires quickly and this should be a fast-moving adventure. In places it is, but there are also passages where the characters are spending too much time talking.

Followers of this series will no doubt already have read this book. For newcomers, it would be better to begin earlier on in the series where the relationships between the characters are still being worked out.

Pauline Morgan

November 2020

(pub: Ace/Penguin, 2017. 371 page hardback. Price: $27.00 (US), $36.00 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-425-28127-7)

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