Next up: “Moon Called”, “Blood Bound”, “Iron Kissed”, “Bone Crossed”, “Silver Borne”, “River Marked”, “Frost Burned”, “Night Broken”, and “Shifting Shadows” by Patricia Briggs.
I have to admit that I love me some urban fantasy. This series is tremendously fun, and pretty long. “Shifting Shadows” is a compendium of short stories set in the series ‘verse. The series is on-going, with a new book comes out approximately every other year.
Since there are so many books, I’ll just give a general overview of the series.
The books focus on Mercedes Thompson, a woman of half-native-American descent who can shapeshift into a coyote. She lives in the Tri-Cities area of Washington state, and her next-door neighbor is a werewolf. That’s okay, though, because she has experience dealing with werewolves’ tempers, territoriality, and general over-bearingness. She was raised by them, after all.
Mercy is a car mechanic with her own garage, but her unassuming life doesn’t seem to matter since trouble likes to find her and sink its teeth into her. Vampires, demons, fae, and all sorts of assorted monsters make appearances in the series as enemies and allies. Each book is more or less an action mystery, with danger and unknowns lurking around every corner. There are kidnappings, murders, supernatural turf-wars, and a whole lot more. Each book has a contained plot, but they all feed into each other and there’s an over-arching plot of Mercy’s life and identity, and the romance between her and a werewolf.
These books read like candy. They’re easy and a fun adventure. I like the world– chock-full of supernatural beasties. It’s also interesting in that it isn’t just an underground world of the supernatural. The human, mundane world knows that the fae exist, and werewolves, but some of the other races (like vampires) are still in hiding. There are interesting political ramifications of the presence of supernatural beings that come up occasionally in the books.
The characters are very much enjoyable, which I think accounts for a large part of why I love reading the books. Mercy is wonderfully capable, and can definitely take care of herself even though she doesn’t have the enhanced strength or longevity of werewolves. She and many of the other characters also have a sense of humor (one of the characters, a vampire, drives a van painted to look like the Mystery Machine). You get fairly invested in the lives of these people.
While I do say that these books are fun, they are not without their dark themes and tragedies. All the threats the characters face mean that people get hurt and sometimes get dead. There’s plenty of drama to go along with the action, horror, and joking banter.
As for complaints, I don’t have too many, and certainly not any that prevent me from enjoying the heck out of this series. However, I will admit that the books do utilize some tired tropes (particularly in the romance subplot and werewolf ‘culture’). The books are well but simply written and don’t strain readers much. And, as with pretty much any long series, there are some books that don’t quite hit the mark. Still, I would recommend the series for those who like urban fantasy.
One of the main characters is raped in the third book. It is treated exactly as what it is– a horrible violent crime– but it could be triggering. After that book, the effects linger with the main character, who has panic attacks and other problems arising from the attack. As well, there is occasionally hateful speech– homophobic or speciesist or misogynistic– but it is never framed as an acceptable thing. Talk of suicide.