Thursday, May 20, 2010

Man Troubles and the Coyote Shifter

Let’s say you were making a soundtrack for the story of your life. Chances are, sooner or later you’d find yourself browsing the Beatles’ repertoire. (Seriously, those lads from Liverpool had something to say--well, sing--about almost everything... down to oddly-colored submarines and walruses, if you’re so inclined.) But back to the soundtrack. Think about the exuberantly-fun “Twist and Shout”, the infectiously-catchy “Here Comes the Sun”, or the melancholy  “Yesterday”--each sort of perfectly expresses a thought or emotion or feeling most of us identify with, no matter our age, sex, race, etc. That kind of timeless, universal work is so powerful that the Beatles have achieved a kind of immortality.
Only time will tell if Urban Fantasy--itself so full of immortal characters and powerful imagery--will enjoy a similar longevity. The best of it definitely captures our imaginations, though, making us laugh, sweat, and occasionally cry... all while rooting for the kickass heroines and heroes to save humanity, destroy the forces of evil, and (hopefully) find their own little pieces of happy.
Now, I have no idea if Patricia Briggs ever sits there humming Beatles’ tunes to herself when she’s writing, but it wouldn’t surprise me a bit; I can’t read her fantastic Mercy Thompson series without hearing “With a Little Help From My Friends” playing in the background (which is sort of sad, because I don’t even like that song). Still, the lyrics of that song been never been more appropriate than in the latest entry in Mercy’s continuing saga, Silver Borne.
The importance of having friends--people who have your back, and are around to pick up the pieces if they’re not where they should be when you fall--is actually a theme Ms. Briggs has been building slowly but surely ever since Mercy’s first appearance (in 2006’s Moon Called), when the shunned little coyote-shifter/mechanic first realized she was in over her head, and was forced to interact with the local wolf pack (and a vampire, and some of the Fae). Since then, she’s been in and out of trouble with all of the above... and has made some friends, as well. 
When Silver Borne picks up Mercy’s tale, we find her in a happier place in her romantic life. True, she and area Alpha Adam Hauptman are still trying to work through the difficulties in being a newly-mated (and mixed-species, although that really isn’t an issue for them) pair. Mercy is still recovering from being attacked only a few months earlier, which doesn’t make things any easier.
Adam’s daughter and some of the Pack are behind them, though, which is good. Unfortunately, the majority of the Pack still aren’t on board with Mercy’s insertion into their all-wolf (thus, superior) pack, which is bad.
There are problems on the “homefront”, as well. Mercy’s roomie/long-time friend/ex-boyfriend Samuel has become increasingly depressed, to the point that his wolf actually takes control over his human half... leaving Mercy trying to reason with a wolf.
Mercy faces more trouble at the shop, too, when a group of reality-TV bounty hunters drop by the garage, guns (loaded with premium silver bullets) blazing, brandishing microphones, cameras... and a warrant for a werewolf’s capture. 
Finally, there’s the mysterious phone call from her old friend-and-mentor Zee’s grandson, Tad, asking if she still has the Fae book she’d borrowed from his friend’s bookstore a couple months earlier. (She does.) Things get progressively stranger there when she goes to return the book... only to find the owner gone (without a trace), strangers asking her pointed questions about the borrowed book, and the bookstore itself in (a magically-hidden) shambles.
Silver Borne is a thrill-ride, as Mercy juggles the internal Pack problems, Sam/Samuel’s struggles, and deals with that accursed Fae book--which it suddenly seems every Fae in the tri-cities wants. There are some terrific action sequences, and we’re introduced to another fascinating world (always fun in UF stories).
There are also some sweet moments, like watching Mercy and Adam pussyfoot around each other. and getting a closer look at the inner workings of a wolfpack and how their special bonds work; The very best moments are reserved for Mercy and Samuel, though; the interactions between an unhappy wolf--and one little coyote shifter who absolutely refuses to give up on him--are pure magic. (In a book chock-full of good stuff, it’s my very favorite part.)
In the end, Mercy is forced (once again) to rely on others--the Fae, the fractious Pack to which she now belongs, plus some plain-old, ordinary humans--to extricate herself from the various messes she’s in. And, when everything is said and done, it all boils down to one thing: that tough, brave, loner Mercy really couldn’t get by without a little help from her friends.
And this time, she may really believe it.
GlamKitty rating: 4.75 catnip mice (out of 5 possible)
 

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