Title: Iron Kissed (Mercy Thompson Series, Book 3)
Author: Patricia Briggs
Review Number: 4
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Fiction
Stand alone or series: Third (most recent) entry in the Mercy Thompson Series
Summary: (From amazon.com)
When her former boss and mentor is arrested for murder and left to rot behind bars by his own kind, it’s up to shapeshifting car mechanic Mercy Thompson to clear his name, whether he wants her to or not. And she’ll have to choose between the two werewolves in her life-whether she wants to or not.
Why did I read the book: Lately, I’ve been getting into paranormal fantasy. I like a strong heroine in my books, and this rapidly growing genre has a lot of ‘em. Granted, it’s overly chocked with were-creatures, fae and vampires, but the Mercy Thompson series has received such glowing reviews that I had to give them a shot. While this review is for book 3, I’ll address the series as a whole (I picked up book 1 Moon Called, fell in love with it and rushed back to pick up the remaining two books in the series).
Mercedes Thompson is unique. In a world where fantastical creatures are real, Mercy is the only one of her kind. She is a walker—not to be confused with a skinwalker—that is, she can shapeshift from woman to coyote painlessly, a birth gift from her Native American Indian father. When her mother came to Mercy’s crib and found a coyote pup in the place of a baby girl, she gave Mercy over to the werewolves to be raised. Which adds to Mercy’s uniqueness—she grew up with not just any werewolves as her family, but the Marok (the head werewolf of all North America) himself as her pack leader.
In books 1 and 2, Mercy’s relatively quiet life as a VW mechanic is shaken up from troublesome werewolves and nasty vampires. In Iron Kissed, her former boss Siebold Adelbertsmiter (Zee for short) is in trouble. Zee is a self-proclaimed gremlin, a rare and powerful metal-working fae, with the appearance of an aging, skinny, potbellied grumpy old man (this isn’t his real appearance though, just the glamour he employs). Zee and Uncle Mike, another powerful local fae, approach Mercy to call in a favor owed from book 2. They ask her to use her keen coyote senses to try and sniff out someone who has been murdering fae on the reservation. When Mercy quickly finds the killer, Uncle Mike and Zee set out to dispatch their own brand of justice…but are too late. The killer is already dead when they arrive at the scene, and unfortunately, the cops show up at that moment. Uncle Mike can disguise himself, but Zee is caught and pinned for the murder. What makes matters worse is, humans are becoming increasingly distrusting of the recently-outed fae, hate groups are on the rise, and a murdering fae is throwing oil on the fire.
Mercy, knowing that her friend is innocent (even though he WOULD have killed the murderer had the job not been done before he got there) works to find the real killer while dealing with her own romantic problems (involved in a love triangle with two very dominant werewolves), and angry nasty fae.
I absolutely love this book. Mercy is the ideal heroine. Unlike other butt-kicking lead ladies in the paranormal genre, Mercy doesn’t have multiple superhuman powers at her disposal. She’s not powerful at all, and actually is at the bottom of the hierarchy of mystical beings. As a walker, she can transform into a coyote and is not moon called like weres (nor does the transformation hurt like a were’s would), but she is not a huge lumbering predator. In her coyote form, Mercy weighs only 30 pounds, and while she does have heightened senses and speed, she’s easy prey for anyone bigger. The only ‘power’ Mercy has is her strange partial immunity to some forms of magic. Which isn’t to say she is impervious to magic—just that she can be underestimated, and she uses this to her full advantage. Magical abilities aside, Mercy is just cool. She’s not drop dead gorgeous or sexy, and as a mechanic she knows she isn’t the belle of the ball. She doesn’t have a private harem at her beck and call, nor is she bitchy and mean to assert how tough she is. Mercy is gutsy, smart, and knows when to submit—and that is what makes her so appealing.
As an avid Lost fan, I am loathe to read ANYTHING that involves a romantic triangle (“Geometry of Doom” or “Zombie Triangle”, as we like to affectionately like to think of it). Especially if I don’t know when the blasted thing will end. I was quite relieved to see a love triangle handled with class and sensitivity in the Mercy Thompson books, though, and I guarantee you that it will be worth your while to read (there will be no screaming, hair-tearing, head banging against a brick wall in prolonged triangle purgatory). Iron Kissed marks the final choice Mercy makes in regards to which man she will be with—Adam or Samuel? (Sam Adams? Hee!) She feels the heat here as Sam—the emergency room doctor werewolf who is her first love and current roommate—pressures her from one side, while Adam—the local werewolf Alpha who has publically claimed Mercy as his mate for her protection from the pack— pressures her from the other. I won’t spoil it for you, but her decision makes perfect sense to me. She is honest with herself, opens her heart and goes with what she knows is right.
Plus, she picked the guy I wanted. I’m shameless, I know.
Romantic entanglements aside, this book is wonderfully complex. Peripheral characters from the first two books are fleshed out here, and the fae are brought to terrifying life. I loved that Ms. Briggs makes the fae out to be the not-so-nice creatures from older fables, and she really captures the danger that Mercy faces. Similarly, the dynamics and politics of werewolves (dominants vs. submissives) is wonderfully imagined and original.
A word on Patricia Briggs: if you have yet to read her books, please hurry and jump on board. Ms. Briggs is a beautiful storyteller and has an incredible knack for creating deep, sympathetic characters that challenge typical stereotypes.
Finally, I’ll leave you with one caveat: this book is not without some heartache and there are some hefty, unpleasant trials that Mercy goes through. It isn’t sensationalized or for dramatic effect though; rather, it serves a purpose in the grand scheme of the story. Furthermore, I’m certain the repercussions of these actions will be dealt with in future installments. The revelation about the werewolf Ben, for example, is something I cannot wait to tackle in the next book.
These books are intense and enthralling, but not without a softer, human side—something that characters like Anita Blake lack. I couldn’t get enough of this series, and eagerly await Mercy’s next adventure.
Notable Quotes/Parts: I won’t spoil it for you, but the section where Mercy makes up her mind about who she cannot live without is wonderful. When she finally confronts the man she is not going to be with, the discussion they have is heartfelt, and genuine.
Naturally, the reaction of the man she chooses isn’t bad either.
Additional Thoughts: Don’t really have any…except to say that if you choose to read ONE traditional (by that I mean lycanthropes, vampires, fae) paranormal series, I would tell you to read this one. Way better than Anita Blake or Meredith Gentry, and even better than the popular Kelly Armstrong’s Women of Otherworld.
Mercedes is where it’s at.
Verdict: I loved this series. Go out and buy all 3 at once—you’ll thank me when you’re done with book 1 and don’t have to rush back to the bookstore!
Rating: 8 Excellent
Reading Next: The Blue Sword