Review: Storm Cursed (Mercy Thompson #11) by Patricia Briggs
NB—I read a borrowed copy of this book, all opinions are my own
So much happened in this book! After five or so books, it can be a challenge for a series to do something truly surprising, but that is certainly not the case in this book. I love when long-running series have major developments happen with established characters, so that the consequences for the main characters (and subsequently the reader) have an actual emotional impact. Patricia Briggs did that in Burn Bright, and she did it again with Storm Cursed.
In this powerful entry in the #1 New York Times bestselling series, Mercy Thompson must face a deadly enemy to defend all she loves…
My name is Mercedes Athena Thompson Hauptman, and I am a car mechanic.
And a coyote shapeshifter.
And the mate of the Alpha of the Columbia Basin werewolf pack.
Even so, none of that would have gotten me into trouble if, a few months ago, I hadn’t stood upon a bridge and taken responsibility for the safety of the citizens who lived in our territory. It seemed like the thing to do at the time. It should have only involved hunting down killer goblins, zombie goats, and an occasional troll. Instead, our home was viewed as neutral ground, a place where humans would feel safe to come and treat with the fae.
The reality is that nothing and no one is safe. As generals and politicians face off with the Gray Lords of the fae, a storm is coming and her name is Death.
But we are pack, and we have given our word.
We will die to keep it.
One of the only complaints I have about this book is that the antagonists felt like bit-players, which left the threat being faced by Mercy and the pack seem lessened somehow, despite the many dire consequences there to provide motivation. After the tension and emotional interplay from Burn Bright, I expected something similar here, but instead a fair chunk of the key developments to raise tension happened off-page, or in a way that left me feeling disconnected.
Maybe the only difference is the confidence and allies with which Mercy faced the challenges she encountered, and I’m certainly not complaining about that character growth. There’s nothing more frustrating than a main character that doesn’t progress; except maybe one who progresses too fast and ends up facing more ridiculously overpowered villains each time they need a challenge. The Mercy Thompson series doesn’t fall prey to that trap.
There was a slew of things happening in this book that will no doubt lead directly to future book developments, and a lot of potential for character development with half the book’s worth of characters1. Character development is my not so secret passion, and the sole reason I read a lot of fantasy (epic battles between good and evil providing ample opportunity for growth and pain, triumph and failure, and all of those come with a healthy dose of character moments which I relish).
I loved seeing the growth of Mercy and Adam’s relationship, the little ways they work at maintaining it, and the benefits they both reap from being able to rely unquestioningly on the other when in doubt. Healthy and believable relationships are rare in fiction, but I think Mercy and Adam fit the bill pretty well2.
Storm Cursed was definitely a page turner, and while the point I thought was the end seemed abrupt and unsatisfying, the actual conclusion was really great. Without giving too much away—I can’t let this review end without squealing a bit about the potential for more Walker characters. With Mercy as a main character, it’s shocking how little we actually know about the various types of Walker, and Hank, Gary, or a potential new Walker would be a great foil for Mercy’s power, but relative ignorance of her culture and abilities.
All in all, this book would be a great read for fans of Patricia Briggs’ previous works, Ilona Andrews’ novels, Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series or anyone who enjoys urban fantasy with a solid and interesting cast of characters—though I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that new readers should begin with book one, and read the Alpha and Omega series in conjunction with the Mercy Thompson novels
1For those of you wanting the list of characters who should have key growth soonish (the next two or three books)—Larry, Mary Joe, Wulfe (!), Ruth, Senator Campbell, Sherwood, Zee and Tad. Gary, Kyle, Aiden and Zack are also possibilities, though less sure
2Side note because it’s more relevant to the series than Storm Cursed specifically, but I love the way Mercy and Jesse interact, and the respectful boundaries in place between them