While this review is of a re-read, I hadn’t read this short story in years, but decided to do so in order to have an overview of the complete series while waiting to receive Wild Sign (book six), which I should be able to read soon, as I have re-ordered it.
This story has a plot that heavily revolves around abuse of all kinds—sexual and physical primarily. If you’d rather not read about such topics, this story (and the series) is likely not for you. I should probably also mention, as this short story is the first entry of the Alpha & Omega series, that this series intertwines with the Mercy Thompson series, and if you don’t read both as they intersect, there will be major spoilers for one another.
In Cry Wolf, New York Times bestselling author Patricia Briggs started a new urban fantasy series set in the world of Mercy Thompson — but with rules of its own. Now, read “Alpha and Omega,” the novella that inspired the new series, and see how it all began…
Anna Latham never knew werewolves existed, until the night she survived a violent attack… and became one herself. After three years at the bottom of the Chicago pack, she’s learned to keep her head down and never, ever trust dominant males. But when she discovers wrongdoing in her pack, she has to go above her Alpha’s head to ask for help.
Charles Cornick is the son — and enforcer — of the leader of the North American werewolves. Now his father has sent him to Chicago to clean up a problem there. Charles never expected to find Anna, a rare Omega wolf — and he certainly never expected to recognize her as his mate…
This novella was originally published in the anthology, On the Prowl.
It’s surprising to me that this short story is where the Alpha & Omega series began, because I think of the series as being so centred on the Marrok pack and the remote Montana setting, even though the setting actually changes with almost every book. Anna and Charles are still very much the characters we come to know in the series, though of course less nuanced due to the short word count allowed for character development and a fast-moving plot.
I was glad that Anna’s abuse, while a central motivator for the developments of the short story, isn’t graphic or descriptive within the short story itself. It appears more as an effect on Anna’s behaviour, centring the plot on her and Charles rather than her abusers. I was also happy that Anna’s whole identity wasn’t tied to her victimhood, she had friends, interests and abilities separate from her original pack, and I wish her friendship with Kara had continued in the other Alpha & Omega books.
The plot of the short story was an intriguing mystery that comes to light quite quickly, but with solid motivations that come clear in the end. While it helps to have read the first Mercy Thompson book to understand the full context of the short story, it’s probably not necessary this early in the series.
I am glad the series continued from here, so that Anna and Charles (and Bran, Asil, Sage, Leah and the other regulars in this series) got a chance to be developed separately from the strong personalities of the Mercy Thompson series. Anyone who has read or begun to read the Mercy Thompson series and thinks this will just be a re-hash need not be concerned. Anna and Charles are very different to Mercy and Adam, and the versions of femininity that Anna and Mercy embody are very different too. I think Mercy reads as a more typical urban-fantasy heroine. She talks trash, kicks ass and has enough power to make her unpredictable, while still being an underdog. Anna probably falls into the underdog-with-occasionally-very-useful-powers category, but she is softer, more empathetic, and more likely to solve solutions through non-violent means than Mercy. She’s not weak or passive by any means, but the change of pace is welcome.
If you haven’t read the Mercy Thompson or Alpha & Omega series before, I’d recommend Alpha & Omega as a good starting point to get a feel for Patricia Briggs’s writing style. Fans of Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series, the Darkyn series by Lynn Viehl, or Ninth House (Alex Stern #1) by Leigh Bardugo will probably enjoy Alpha & Omega (and the series that follows).