Jan 27 2007
Dear Ms. Briggs:
As I was reading this book last night, I turned to Ned with an epiphany. “Ned,” I said, “When an author of a fantasy book can make you believe her truths, that’s a great book.” He replied, “that’s why I read fantasy.” Indeed. You have the unique gift of being able to make the reader believe, for the space of 300 some pages, of your truths. That vampires, fae, werewolves, and magic makers live in tentative harmony with humankind. Mercy Thompson’s world is just like ours, only a bit more dangerous and a bit more sexy.
Mercy Thompson is a walker. As a walker, she has very few powers. She can shift into coyote shape and is somewhat resistant to other magics such as vampire compulsion or werewolf pack control. Because of her magic resistance, vampire friend Stefan calls upon her to deliver a message to a visiting vampire who has failed to pay the proper respects to Stefan’s seethe. Stefan is fearful that the visiting vampire has some type of magic that can compel him to do things he wouldn’t ordinarily do and that Mercy is hopefully immune and will be able to report back to his seethe should anything happen to him.
Of course, things go badly and soon Mercy is wrapped up in a hunt for a vampire/sorcerer who is causing the Tri Cities area to have an increased rise in violence, harming werewolf friends, and endangering lives of innocents. To complicate things, her feelings for Adam, the local Alpha, are scaring her and her feelings for Samuel, an old flame, appear unresolved. Throw in a bit of vampire, fae, werewolf politics and the story does not stop.
The strength of this story is in that the details of the world construct and the consistency of characters that create a believable alternate reality. Mercy has a keen sense of smell, consistent with the canis species, that she employs on an everyday basis. She uses it when she is in danger, when she is working and when she is full of desire. She uses her brain to solve problems but doesn’t hesitate to ask for help when she needs it. Mercy is portrayed as unassuming but loyal. She is the kind of person that you want to befriend so that when she is in danger or hurt or angry or in lust, all those emotions are felt keenly by the reader.
The complaints that I would have for the book is that, at times, Mercy monologues in a very educated manner. She uses words like effluvia and quotes old Benjamin Franklin maxims. That is not to say that a garage mechanic can’t be a poet ala Nick in Crazy for You, but there wasn’t any part of Mercy’s backstory that suggested she spent her time in pursuit of the literary arts. In this, I suspect that Mercy is more a reflection of the author, than being in character. You also have a small tendency toward repetitiveness. For example, you described Samuel as being more dominant than the Alpha, Adam, about five times.
Additionally, there is another love interest developed for Mercy other than Adam and Samuel and while I am not philosophically opposed to this, I wince because any movement toward the multi partner route reminds me, sadly of Laurell K Hamilton’s series debacle, the Mary Sue that Sookie Stackhouse has become, and the tedious Ranger/Joe triangle perpetuated by the ever popular Janet Evanovich. I would loathe to see Mercy’s unaffected charm be wiped away by having everyunattached male in the Tri Cities area falling for her. I have no problem with her being conflicted about her feelings for more than one guy but to make it so that she is just irresistible to everyone makes me groan in dismay.
Those are small quibbles and didn’t really affect my appreciation for this book. The characters, the action, seem so alive. That’s power of the pen – the ability to change a reader’s perception. It’s why we readers read fantasy. A-