REVIEW: Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs
Trigger warning: non-graphic references to sexual assault, torture and slavery.
Dear Patricia Briggs,
It’s a new year and there’s a new Patricia Briggs book. Something is still right in the world.
Burn Bright is an Alpha & Omega book, featuring Charles and Anna Cornick. It is in the same universe as your Mercy Thompson books and the world building is so dense at this point, I think it is necessary to have read both series to fully understand the importance of what’s happening. I see this as a feature not a bug by the way. While last year’s Mercy book wasn’t a roaring success for me, I did still enjoy it and all of the other books in both series have been stellar.
For those who haven’t read all the books yet – series spoilers follow so be warned.
Burn Bright takes place about a week after the main action of Silence Fallen. Bran has decided to go to Africa to visit Samuel and his mate rather than come home to Aspen Creek, leaving the pack to remain under Charles’s protection and authority in his absence. Charles isn’t particularly happy about this. He and Anna are staying in Bran’s and Leah’s house for the duration and the extra interactions and responsibilities wear on the both of them.
The action kicks off immediately, with a wildling urgently needing help. (Wildlings are the more troubled wolves in Bran’s care who live isolated from all but a select few of the pack because of their precarious mental state, brought about, usually, by great age). Charles and Anna go up the mountain to answer the call, and find Hester, a very old wolf, trapped in a cage made of iron and silver and guarded by paramilitary-type men. From there, the story moves from a rescue attempt to a realisation that Hester was only caught because there is a traitor in the pack’s midst. Charles and Anna, with assists from Asil, Leah and Sage, investigate and come up against a powerful magic which, if not stopped, risks everything for Charles, for Anna and for the pack.
Most of the book takes place over two days. Burn Bright is action and tension packed. I kept finding excuses to read because I was so invested in the story. As is often the case with your books, I also read over bits, trying to draw out the pleasure of the book and make it last. I still read it in a weekend. There is also time for some romance between Charles and Anna. They have a strong and stable relationship but there remain some sore spots they have to navigate, challenges ahead of them and traumas behind them that still cause pain. I find almost every interaction Charles and Anna have to be romantic in some way – even when they are fighting a monster there is either implicit or explicit acknowledgement of who they are to each other so it is always at the forefront of my mind when I read.
Charles is an alpha – though not the alpha (except temporarily) of the Marrok’s pack. Anna is omega. She sits outside of pack hierarchy, with unique powers and abilities, which she uses both to soothe and to ruffle fur from time to time. I have always admired in the Mercy books that Adam and Mercy are both alpha and you make that dynamic work. Similarly, I love how Charles doesn’t attempt to dominate Anna. He never has. He is sensitive to her vulnerabilities of course. They met when she had been brutalised and abused after being Changed against her will but he also sees and values her strengths. Charles is clear-eyed about himself as well. He recognises his instincts aren’t always what Anna wants or needs.
He knew it was not his job to make her smaller, safer. It was his job to lift her up as high as she wanted to soar—and to kill anything that tried to interfere.
Anna is amazing. Strong and brave and clever. But as a hero-centric reader, I admit I pretty much get heart-eyes when it comes to Charles. I am all aswoon at his (and Brother Wolf’s) utter devotion to her.
There are some interesting revelations about Bran at the beginning of the book as well. I’m curious what you may do with them as the series progresses. It’s nothing necessarily earth-shattering; rather, a new way of seeing him that I hadn’t considered before.
There is another character I’d like to talk about because I was very impressed with her development but to do so would give away spoilers so I will stay silent.
Me: Oh, but there is so much to say!
Also me: But spoilers.
Still me: Argh.
I picked who the traitor was early on. It didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book (well, maybe a teensy bit) but I appreciated the twists and turns you brought to the story to make it all join together and make sense.
Going in I had no real idea where the story was going to take me. I was surprised at what it ended up being about – that is not a complaint. There is still a greater threat to the pack and a reckoning is no doubt coming but this book tells a particular subset of the overall tale in a complete and compact way that was oh so satisfying.
I am giving the side-eye to my TBR of Doom right now because I’d dearly love to go back and re-read all of the Alpha & Omega books (and maybe the Mercy books too) because I’m not ready to let the characters go yet. I’ll be picking up the audiobook as soon as it is released and I plan on enjoying Holter Graham speaking Charles in my ears shortly after.
I have the audiobook waiting for me.
**sigh** You’re going to make me buy this, aren’t you? I have it on hold from the library. Which is stupid because I know I’m going to buy it since every book in the Mercy-verse is on my wish list. Audio? Kindle? Audio? Kindle? … Both. **double clicks**
My book budget hates you. Just sayin’…
I did go back and reread the series to get prepared for this. I also read “The Others” series by Anne Bishop who also has a new book out today. The two authors are doing some bookstore touring together. Both are great series that really suck you into their world building and unique characters.
I’m so looking forward to this book and would also like to re-read both series. Agree that the need to have read all preceding books is a feature, not a bug.
I skimmed your review with one eye closed since I don’t want to spoil the joy of reading this book. The Alpha and Omega series is one of my favorites, and I’m definitely looking froward to reading Burn Bright. I’ll come back and read this with both eyes open once I’ve read the book!
Thank you for your review. I was determined to hold off buying this until the price dropped, but I read another review this morning that made me just say, “Who do you think you’re kidding?”–mostly because of a spoiler hint for the other series–so I threw up my hands and then clicked. And threw in the audiobook, too. (I recently listened to both series in audio.) Sigh. I’m glad for confirmation that it’s worth it.
But I’m most definitely, probably, maybe holding out on the Anne Bishop book.
Picked this up this afternoon and just finished it. (I am a really fast reader and the book is only 308 pages long.)
I didn’t spot the traitor. I am a little bit sad for the character who had to settle the issue. (I am trying to avoid a spoiler there.) But I loved, loved, loved spending more time with the Marrok’s pack, as this is the first time an entire book has taken place in Aspen Creek. The healing of one of the wildings was very moving and I hope the author will tell us more about that character in the future. I liked the further development of the chief suspect. (Sorry to be so cryptic.)
The only thing sad is the fact that now we have to wait a year for the next book! While there was talk of a Tom and Moira book, Patricia Briggs’ website has already named the title of a new Mercy book in 2019, Storm Cursed. (Which is fine by me, because I really don’t want to spend a year with no A&O or Mercy book.)
@Amy R: Me too!
@Silver James: Sorry not sorry.
@Darlynne: I feel a little jealous of people who haven’t had the pleasure of reading the books yet because they have so much awesome in store!
@Kareni: I look forward to your thoughts Kareni :)
@Susan: yeah, good luck with that.
@Kari S.: So now you know the one I wanted to talk about but couldn’t because of spoilers! Those developments were so cool. I love when that happens. (also being cryptic. LOL)
I was in the middle of another book when I got this one, so I’m only a few chapters in. I was really keen to read the mini revelation concerning Mercy (that someone else hinted at) but now my reaction is “no, ugh.” Assuming that’s the only one, and I’m not up for another.
@Susan: that’s the one!
Diane thanks for the heads up on the new Anne Bishop, I loved her Others series.
2 new books for my weekend yay!
I buy Patricia Briggs books in Hardcover and Audible because – books!! gotta love ’em! – and I love the narrators for both the Mercy Thomson and the Alpha and Omega series. Did anyone else think Burn Bright was a little shorter than usual stories? I got to the ending on Audible and was “wha!?! It can’t be over already!” I appreciate the tip about the time line since it was brought up several times in the story. I’ll be going back to listen to the last Mercy book (again). Also, for those who are Audible Book readers, did anyone else think there was something off about the narrator’s voices for the first few chapters? I had grown accustomed to the way he voiced Charles, Asil, Bran and Tad and felt the producers should have given him some old recordings and tips to come back in line with those previous narrations. [Easy for me to say, though huh? I’m sure I never read any stories out loud the same way. But it just sounded a bit off to me in the beginning.]
@Janet: I haven’t listened to it yet but it is on my iPod. :)
For spoileriffic discussions, head over to Janine’s review of this book. She’s opened the comments to all the spoilers so feel free to dive in!
I finished the book today so came back to read your review, Kaetrin. I was surprised to learn the identity of the traitor; other Briggs’ works (including some short pieces) had given me a different take on the character.
I did enjoy the book, but I would have liked more Charles and Anna time.
@Kareni: I think because the book takes place in such a short space of time, there wasn’t much opportunity for a lot of Charles/Anna time. The traitor surprised me too (not in this book so much because I picked it early) but as compared to how the character came across previously, yes.