REVIEW: Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs
Dear Ms. Briggs:
My discovery of your novels began with the Hurog series at the recommendation of fellow reviewer and long time friend, Jan. I am ever so grateful to her because your books are subtle treasures. The Mercy Thompson series provides the perfect blend of world building and complex character arcs so that both the reader who wants their action with a twist and the reader who wants to be moved emotionally will be satisfied.
Mercy Thompson is a walker. Walkers are low on the paranormal/otherworld power chain. Mercy is not stronger, smarter, or magical when she shifts. The only benefit is that she is immune to magic. This immunity is a benefit and a curse because her immunity is a tool that those in power would like to control for their own selfish purposes.
Book three in the series, Iron Kissed, is packed with emotion, mystery, romance, and fantasy providing a full bodied read for the urban fantasy fan. Mercy is at a crossroads in her relationships with the two men in her life, Samuel and Adam Hauptman. Both are alpha werewolves although Samuel has no pack and Adam is the alpha of Tri Cities werewolf pack. Mercy must decide which one she loves more because Adam has declared his feelings for her and her lack of definitive response is weakening the clan.
When her mechanic mentor, Siebold Adelbertsmiter aka Zee, calls upon her to repay a favor to the Fae, she is grateful for the distraction. There have been several unsolved murders on the Fae reservation and the magic which the fae can call on without incurring the wrath of the Grey Lords has been insufficient in finding the perpetrator. Mercy is called in to use her nose to see if she can find an identifying scent of the murderer.
She does and completes her task only to receive a call that Zee has been accused of murder himself. Zee is a surrogate father figure for Mercy and the possibility that he will be a scapegoat spurs her into finding out who is the real murderer. This investigation triggers a whole set of terrible consequences for Mercy.
Mercy eventually figures out who did the killing but not before something tragic (and I know this is an overused word but it is totally appropriate here) befalls her. In order for her to move on, she must come to terms emotionally and physically with this tragedy. The way in which this tragedy was worked into the story was organic to the mystery. I never felt manipulated.
As a reader of primarily romance, this hit all the right buttons for me. There is a depth of emotion in this book not often found in the urban fantasy trope. Many times urban fantasy is compelling for external motivations: world building, mystery, action. The last third of this story, though, was truly emotional. I was moved to tears at Mercy’s struggle with the aftermath of her tragedy and grateful for her eventual triumph.
The love triangle was resolved beautifully and not in a way that I saw coming. I generally hate love triangles, particularly when the author is skilled in making me believe that both are good choices. Samuel and Adam are both decent, honorable men. They also both have their overbearing negatives. I was torn going into the story about which Mercy should choose and while I wanted her to choose someone, I wasn’t sure which one and when. The way in which the triangle was resolved was subtle and satisfying. I felt good when I read how the triangle concluded.
If readers haven’t picked up a Mercy Thompson book, I think they could start with Iron Kissed although I am sure reading one will spur the desire to read the previous two in the series. It’s definitely a series I recommend to romance readers, particularly those that enjoy strong fantasy elements.
I hesitate to give out perfect grades, but I’ve read this book three times since I received it and each time was transportative. I don’t know that it was a perfectly crafted book (there are tendencies towarynnecessary repetition such as Mercy’s previous vampire slayings and Samuel and Adam as dominants) but it was near perfect for me. A-.
Just a note to clarify some speculation that this is the end of the Mercy Thompson series. It is not. Patricia Briggs is contracted for 4 more Mercy Thompson books and has started book 4.