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REVIEW: Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs

Warning: there are slight spoilers in this review for Iron Kissed, the previous book in the Mercy Thompson series.

Dear Ms. Briggs:

bone crossed comp.inddI read on JMC’s blog the other day that she was having a hard time crafting her thoughts about Bujold’s Sharing Knife: Horizon without coming accross as an incoherent fan girl. I’m a bit like that with your books. I hope I can provide some insight as to why I liked the book so as to help others who might be making a purchasing decision.

Bone Crossed is our 4th entry in the Mercy Thompson series and it is the first hardcover. Immediately, I think you get judged by readers by a different, tougher measuring stick. Because of the cost, readers forgo other purchases. So, is it worth it? Read on.

Mercedes Thompson is a walker. She shapeshifts into a coyote, is a fairly good singer, and has an immunity to magic. In the Tri-Cities area, that latter is a positive because the area is rife with other beings: werewolves, vampires, Elf kind, and faeries. A previous power struggle between the vampires led to Mercy making a powerful enemy in the form of vampire queen Marsilia. Everyone around Mercy thinks she should get the out of Tri-Cities until Marsilia calms down.

Mercy accepts an invitation from a college friend, Amber, to come to Spokane to investigate a haunting in her friend’s house. Despite Mercy’s doubts as to the veracity of her friend’s complaint, the truth is that there is not only a ghost in Amber’s house, but the ghost is threatening Amber’s son. Worse than the ghost is that there is a very old vampire who holds Spokane; so powerful that he holds it without any other vampires; so powerful that he can walk in sunlight.

Mercy must ultimately face a reckoning with Marsilia, the vampire of Spokane, and her own inner demons.

Bone Crossed begins almost immediately where Iron Kissed left off. Mercy Thompson, the narrator, is bruised, both in body and in spirit, by a rape. She must face up to survival which means coming to grips with her abuse, her love for Adam, her feelings regarding the Adam’s pack, and her own vulnerability.

The latter is probably the issue that bothers Mercy the most. While she acknowledges both outwardly and inwardly that she is not the strongest creature out there due to the fact that she shifts into a coyote shape and has not extraordinary magic or strength, her life long resistance to magic has possibly given her a false sense of security.

The problem for Mercy is that she is so used to surviving on her own and that the people in her life that have professed to love her: her mother; Bran, a father figure; Samuel, her first love – have only loved her under certain conditions. To become part of the Pack means to necessarily rely on others for support, both emotional and physical. To allow herself to be fully embraced by Adam makes her vulnerable again.

These internal emotional struggles are what draw me to the series, in particular, and to your writing, in general. Certainly the worldbuilding is interesting (I’ve certainly not read a machiavellian villain such as Marsilia in a long long time), but the depth of the characters and how each suspense encounter serves to either buttress or challenge Mercy’s foundation makes the Mercy Thompson series rise above the ordinary flotsam of urban fantasy books.

There was one point, though, in the book where I was jarred from the story. Early on, Mercy’s mother comes on stage. I didn’t recall her playing a big role in Mercy’s life in the past and didn’t recall Mercy having strong feelings for her mother. The way in which the character was portrayed seemed at odds with my memory. I kind of understood the purpose (I think it was to juxtapose Mercy’s relationship with the mother against Mercy’s relationship with Adam). It was the one jarring note in an otherwise smooth story.

I was happy with how the romance progressed. Mercy didn’t gain a bunch of new powers in order to save herself. I felt the world was consistent. I totally adore Samuel and hope that sometime there is a good match for him (Adam’s daughter maybe?). In all, it was worth the hardcover price. I bought my own copy from Sony today.   B+

Best regards

Jane

This book can be purchased in hardcover from Amazon or ebook format from the Sony Store and other etailers.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

25 Comments

  1. Donna
    Feb 03, 2009 @ 16:33:50

    Great review. I thought I wasn’t going to read this book because I didn’t like what happened to Mercy in Iron Kissed. But I find that I’ve gotten myself caught up in all the hoopla and I’m going to end up buying this one. Do you know if Jia has changed her mind on buying this? You’re definitely right about authors having to raise the bar if they want us to spend our hard earned money on hardcovers. I couldn’t agree more. You commented on Adam’s daughter possibly being a match for Samuel. What happened to the boy who worked at Mercy’s shop? I thought they were still going out.

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  2. Kalen Hughes
    Feb 03, 2009 @ 16:48:05

    I haven’t read these yet, but I got my mom addicted to them. *grin*

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  3. Tae
    Feb 03, 2009 @ 18:53:55

    I am so excited about this book. A friend gave me Moon Called a few years ago and I went on a Briggs binge, including finding everything she’s written. I love her earlier fantasy which all read like romance novels and this new series has brought her to a much wider audience. I hope she keeps going.

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  4. Rose W.
    Feb 03, 2009 @ 21:09:35

    I read this book today and enjoyed it as well. I am glad it started where the previous book ended since many people had issues with the ending of “Iron Kissed”. I would give it a B+ as well and did not mind spending my money on the hardback.

    When I went to Borders today (had a gift card) to pick-up the book, I actually had to have a sales person help me find it. The information kiosk had it as not published yet. But, when I asked we finally found a copy in the back of the store. She told me it was upfront until about a half-hour before I came and someone moved all the copies to the back. Evidently, being a bestselling author doesn’t get you much respect at Borders.

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  5. Jane
    Feb 03, 2009 @ 22:03:58

    @Donna I don’t believe Jia has read this. I understood more where Jia was coming from when I read women in refrigerators. Women in comics and then in fantasy and SFF are often either beaten or raped or both and it seems like it’s just for effect but I felt that Briggs used it in a different way, to explore the trope maybe that is so ill used by other authors (mostly male).

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  6. SonomaLass
    Feb 03, 2009 @ 23:34:51

    I saw a big display of this book in our local Borders today, when I went in for a PB fix. Clearly there are store-to-store variations in how much they are promoting it.

    I never considered buying it, not having read the earlier ones. In fact, the reviews of Iron Kissed were two of the pieces that sold me on this web site. Two reviews, both well written, articulating very different opinions on the same book. Since, like Jia, I’m a longtime sf/fantasy reader, and I very much share that particular “hot button.”

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  7. Joonigrrl/Leslie
    Feb 04, 2009 @ 01:00:56

    I’m not reading your review just yet . . . I bought my own copy minutes ago. I am so beyond excited about this book! I thought Iron Kissed was the best of the three at the time, and I can’t wait to see what she does with this one.

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  8. DS
    Feb 04, 2009 @ 08:00:31

    A friend downloaded this to her Kindle yesterday at lunch. It’s one of the $9.99 books.

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  9. roslynholcomb
    Feb 04, 2009 @ 08:28:46

    Can’t wait for mine to arrive. I pre-ordered it, and they usually come early when you do that, but not this time dagnabit. They say it’s shipped, but hasn’t arrived yet. I hadn’t planned to buy it in HB, don’t have that kind of money, but someone gave me an Amazon gift certificate for Christmass.

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  10. Nifty
    Feb 04, 2009 @ 09:19:23

    This series is one of my biggest obsessions these days. What always hooks me as a reader are the characters of a story, and I’m just in love with the characters of this series. Mercy’s a top-notch protagonist: smart, capable, confident, and possessed of a bone-deep decency that shines through in every situation. I can’t help but admire her gutsiness and unwavering loyality to her friends or those she feels need protection. But at the same time, there’s an appealing humbleness to her. I love how Briggs has woven the romantic relationship into the series, developing it slowly (and realistically, in my mind). In Bone Crossed, one of my favorite things was that once Mercy made up her mind to be Adam’s mate, she never waffled. We didn’t have to read endless pages of uncertainty or angst. My only complaint is the 1st person perspective. It’s not that it doesn’t work here as Mercy’s voice. It does. It’s just that there’s so much more I’d like to know, and 1st person limits what can be shared with the reader. (For instance, in the scene when Adam and Mercy make love, he tells her that he knows she wants him because of the way she go so loose and still shen he touches her. Mercy realizes to herself in that moment that she’s not the only one with wounds. Tway that bit is written, it rang all sorts of bells for me that Adam was referencing something in his past, perhaps with his ex-wife. But we don’t get to know more. Not yet, at least.) My affection for this series grows with every book. I know Patty’s contracted (right now) for a total of 7 in this series, but I have to admit that I’m not yet ready to contemplate the end.

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  11. roslynholcomb
    Feb 04, 2009 @ 12:42:31

    Only SEVEN?!?! I’m so glad this one is good. I was terrified that it would go sucky when it went to HB like so many others. I have read every book in this series at least five times apiece and I just discovered them this fall. Briggs’ is an absolute master of characterization. So much so that I don’t even mind the first person, something I’ve always hated before. I almost bought it today at B&N even though I know it’s coming from Amz soon.

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  12. JaimeK
    Feb 04, 2009 @ 15:13:36

    I pre-ordered this and my Kindle indicated that it downloaded last night while I was reading. I sooooo look forward to these books. I know what I am reading this weekend!

    Superb review and summation of the series!

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  13. freecia
    Feb 04, 2009 @ 18:01:17

    I bought the kindle version yesterday morning and finished it before I got home from work that night. That’s good for the book, shame on me!

    The Kindle version has some extra line spacing but the story seems to be completely there. So glad Feb. has some good releases. Jan was basically a 2 book purchase month for me – pretty low and very sad.

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  14. LauraJane
    Feb 05, 2009 @ 14:42:59

    Great review. And great comment, Nifty. I think I’ll go back and reread that Adam/Mercy scene. (I absolutely loved how they got there. I was afraid it would be abrupt and inappropriately placed, but it seems I shouldn’t fear with Briggs. She knows what she’s doing.) I’ve also come to love this series more and more with each book. Bone Crossed was terrific. I hope there will be more than 7 in the series, too.

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  15. jmc
    Feb 05, 2009 @ 15:24:21

    Just finished Bone Crossed, which was very good. (FWIW, it would probably be my best read of the year so far, except it had the misfortune of being released just one week after Bujold’s Horizon, which is utterly fabulous.)

    I agree with Nifty about the POV, and wondered the same thing re: Adam’s first wife. First person makes a lot of sense for UF, and generally works for Mercy, but when the narrative is focused on the personal/relationships rather than the adventure or fantasy element, the lack of POV of other characters tends to leave a little bit of a hole. IMO.

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  16. Peggy P
    Feb 06, 2009 @ 09:50:29

    Just noticed this was released on Audible yesterday and I’m now listening to it, it’s very good! I’m glad I held off on purchasing the ebook. You can’t listen to the whole series though as the only other book is Cry Wolf at Audible…I hate when that happens!

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  17. Annmarie
    Feb 07, 2009 @ 11:46:42

    I just got my copy today. I’m taunting myself with it. I am desperate to read it but I won’t allow myself near the book til I finish what I am currently reading. With all books I am desperate to read, I worry about actually reading it. I’m afraid I won’t love it as much as I’ve built it up in my imagination. Seeing the B+ assures me I can begin. As soon as I finish this contemporary romance I started yesterday.

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  18. Heather
    Feb 08, 2009 @ 22:39:54

    I read the first three Mercy Thompson books in a week (yes there were a couple 2 am nights). I immediately preordered Bones Crossed and then read it in two days. I love how Briggs makes her characters so believable and rich – and not just the main characters. I have to say that I felt Briggs was being slightly sadistic as I was on the edge to find out who Mercy would end up with (Adam or Samual) and I am still amazed how Briggs keeps the suspense between Mercy and Adam. I love it!
    But 7 books to complete the series!? That gets annoying. At a certain point I want closure and there are very few series that can go that long and still be good. In fact, only Janet Evanovich has been able to do it so far. I can’t think of anyone else. Briggs: give us our HEA sooner than later!

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  19. Joonigrrl/Leslie
    Feb 09, 2009 @ 02:48:22

    Adam's daughter maybe?

    Actually, this thought also popped into my head. Poor Samuel . . . if so, he’s got a bit of a wait.

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  20. Jane
    Feb 09, 2009 @ 07:02:19

    @Joonigrrl/Leslie True, but in immortal time, what’s 8-10 years. How old is she? 16?

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  21. Has
    Feb 09, 2009 @ 09:59:13

    I dont think Jesse will be suitable for Sam and I think Gabriel who she is dating is a better match. Also Adam as Sam’s father in law buahahahahahaha :D
    I loved this book and I think each new entry gets better and better. Cant wait to see what happens next

    SPOILER concerning Sam in future books-

    At Hurog – Mike let slip that Sam will find someone and she will come from a long lived race and we will meet her sometime in the future. Also the next book will deal with Sam ;D

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  22. Tracy Cubberly
    Feb 10, 2009 @ 19:48:39

    I love this series but was a little disappointed in this book. I wanted Briggs to go more into the relationship between Mercy and Adam and see Sam change and have him find someone. Sam and Adam were hardly in the book, Stefan was a big player, don’t get me wrong I like Stefan but I want some more time with Mercy and Adam. The story was OK but not the best in the series, but I am still very attached to this series and I am looking forward to the next book!!!

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  23. Patricia Briggs
    Feb 12, 2009 @ 00:50:04

    First, thank you for the terrific review, Jane.

    Yep, Tracy, I know. The problem . . . and cool thing about writing a series is that I get to play with a lot of characters. And all characters cannot possibly appear in all the books without muddying the plots hopelessly — or worse, making it feel like each character must have their cameo appearance. I had A Lot of complaints because Stefan didn’t appear at all in Iron Kissed. Bone Crossed was his book.

    Samuel gets his book in Silver Borne (next year), I promise. And Mercy and Adam will progress in their development, too. I am keeping this series in check and making sure it continues to be urban fantasy instead of paranormal romance (I have a lot of guys who tell me they put up with the romancy bits because they like the rest of it). It’s a balancing act and I’m doing my best to make it fun for us all.

    If I have learned anything in the past fifteen years, it is that writing a book everyone likes is just not possible. (Maybe if your name is J K Rowling, but mine is not) I have to settle for writing what I like and hope that pleases enough readers that I can write the next one :) I hope that, if this one did not please some of you, that my next one will — and that you find something you like better in the meantime .There are a lot of terrific books out this month!

    And Jane, about Mercy’s mom. You are absolutely right. From a writerly/craftsman’s perspective, I should have put off bringing her in until I had a balanced (beginning, middle and end) role for her to play. But I needed her for continuity/reality check (who would believe she wouldn’t come see Mercy after finding out she’d been hurt?). And I also needed her because who else would have the nerve to interrupt Adam and Mercy — and it had to be someone Adam wouldn’t kill Still, it could have been worked in better, I agree.

    Best,
    Patty Briggs

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  24. Patricia Briggs
    Feb 12, 2009 @ 00:58:52

    Whoops. Tried to catch this and change the last paragraph so I didn’t sound stupid. Unhappily, I guess I get to sound stupid

    Jane, I reread your remarks and realized that what you objected to about Mercy’s mom, wasn’t what I had worried about. And I put my thoughts into your review. Sigh. So everyone gets to see both of the things that are wrong.

    I know all about the relationship between Mercy and her mom. But I’ve only told the readers just a very little bit — and I forgot just how little it was. I could have made this a little less unexpected. My apologies for throwing you out of the story.
    Patty

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  25. Kathy
    Apr 20, 2009 @ 12:30:26

    I started Bone Crossed, but after the first chapter decided to go back and reread given the close ties in the story arc from the second and third books, and this one litterally beginning where the last left off. I’m glad I did – it helped pull all the threads together.

    I loved Iron Kissed – and ditto here. I loved the way Mercy progresses – growing as she is – and i’m totally hooked on this entire series. The characters are complex and interesting – and I love getting to know them better as we move along.

    How long do we need to wait for the next one? -:)

    And it is well worth the money for the hardback!

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