REVIEW: Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs
Note: I do think this book is best experienced fresh and without any spoilers. I have tried hard not to give anything really important away but still provide a review which is of some use to readers. I have hinted at a couple of things and some may consider even that hinting is spoilerish. If you don’t want to be spoiled even a tiny bit, it may be best to read this review after you’ve read the book.
For those people, the short version is: I loved it, go read it stat.
Dear Patricia Briggs,
Sometimes as a series continues, the later books can begin to get a little boring and contain few surprises. But not the Mercy Thompson series. You managed to surprise and shock me mightily. In fact, I think Fire Touched contains one of the biggest shockers in the series and we are now up to book 9.
Fans ought not to worry, the shock is something which, when one thinks about it at all, is entirely organic to the plot and makes sense and it happens fairly early in the piece. But it’s a big shakeup in the Mercyverse and the ramifications of it will ripple into the next Alpha & Omega book and at the least, the next Mercy book too. And no, I’m not going to say what it is. Even though it happens in the first third of the book and usually I’d consider that fair game for a review, I really think it’s best experienced without spoilers.
Which leaves me with the dilemma of what I can say about the plot. Here goes.
The story begins with Mercy and Adam getting a call from the local police; there is a troll on the Cable Bridge between Pasco and Kennewick, damaging cars and lives have already been lost. Can they help? Of course, Mercy and Adam being who they are, do indeed rush to the bridge, together with other pack members who are close at hand. Mercy’s fae walking stick has recently turned up again and it decides to go along for the ride also. The fight with the troll takes a toll on the humans and the wolves but they are ultimately successful. Aid comes in a surprising form; a young human boy, who, to all appearances, looks about 10 years old, but who was taken by the fae possibly centuries ago. He has been “fire touched” and has the gift of fire. He is also unexpectedly helpful to Joel (pronounced Hoe-el), who readers will remember was turned into a tibicena in Night Broken. Aiden, the fire touched, asks the pack for sanctuary from the fae (from whom he has escaped) for a period 24 hours.
The granting of that sanctuary has huge impact on the tensions between the fae, the humans and the werewolves, and within the pack itself – not just the Columbia Basin Pack, but the North American Pack ruled by the Marrok, Bran Cornick.
Some issues which drew complains in Night Broken are dealt with too and I think readers will generally be very satisfied with where this goes. For me, who didn’t really have those issues with the last book, it made explicit some things I think I maybe factored in unconsciously.
The romance between Adam and Mercy has some lovely moments and my romance-loving heart rejoiced for them. Adam has a major role in this book. He does not draw attention away from Mercy but he is definitely centre stage as well. He and Mercy work together in ways I don’t think I’ve quite seen before. I love the dynamic you have set up between them. The way they know each other so very well and work in concert so seamlessly. Each have different drivers but each understands what motivates the other and they allow for these differences with grace and care.
The plotting is very tight, the characters continue to grow and you have lobbed a grenade into the series which shifts the Mercyverse significantly – if the series needed revitalising (which is debatable in my opinion), you certainly delivered.
There was one section which stood out to me as being the odd duck. I think it may have been there to introduce a new pack member to readers but other than getting Mercy on the road, I couldn’t really see a reason for it to exist in the book. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy reading it (I did) but it didn’t flow into the rest of the story’s resolution like the other plot points did.
In some respects this book is a little more cerebral than other installments. By that I mean that there are a lot of politics and machinations which don’t necessarily involve out and out fighting and battles. There are some set pieces but they are perhaps not as dramatic as those with the volcano god in Night Broken. That did not detract one iota from my enjoyment however (and there is plenty of drama too). It is a brilliantly plotted and paced book – I was glued to the pages the entire time I read, jealous of anything that took me out of the story and into the real world.
Jesse demonstrates she is growing up in ways that fit the story and were pleasing but which were not intrusive. Mercy’s position as Adam’s mate and her importance to him and to the pack is solidified. Adam and Mercy remain one of my very favourite couples in all of my reading. I love the intimacy, affection and care of their interactions.
Normally I’d include some quotes in my review but all the ones I highlighted are too spoilery. Still, I can pretty much guarantee people will be re-reading certain bits and there are definitely some very sighworthy lines to rival the best in any romance. (I can’t wait for the audio so I can actually hear Adam say some of those lines.)
Fire Touched is not a book one can truly appreciate without having read the earlier books. But it is a brilliant installment in a fantastic series. I recommend all of them. However, if anyone was thinking maybe Mercy ran a risk of getting stale? Absolutely not. Fire Touched is fresh and game-changing. I hope readers can immerse themselves in the story spoiler-free and suck the marrow out of all the goodness therein.