Title: Cry Wolf
Author: Patricia Briggs
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Stand alone or series: The first full length novel in the Alpha and Omega series (following the novella “Alpha and Omega” in the On the Prowl anthology); set in the same universe and involving many of the same characters from the Mercy Thompson books
Summary: (from Penguin Group USA)
Anna never knew werewolves existed until the night she survived a violent attack…and became one herself. After three years at the bottom of the pack, she’d learned to keep her head down and never, ever trust dominant males. But Anna is that rarest kind of werewolf: an Omega. And one of the most powerful werewolves in the country will recognize her value as a pack member—and as his mate.
Why did I read this book: I love the Mercy Thompson series, and the titled heroine is one of my all time favorites. I also have been reading Patricia Briggs since middle school, and am a huge fan of all her writing. So, it follows that when we received an ARC for Cry Wolf, I was ecstatic!
Patricia Briggs is a writer of fantasy–be it of the more traditional sword and sorcery variety, or the newer wave of urban paranormal fantasy. Recently, Ms. Briggs’s Mercy Thompson series has earned high praise and has garnered quite a following–myself included! In all of Patricia Briggs’s stories, she manages to write heroines that are intelligent and strong in their own, different ways. And what’s more is, they are distinct from each other. While I was so very excited to read Cry Wolf, I was a little nervous because I love Mercedes Thompson so much. How would Anna compare tot he levelheaded Mercy? Would this just feel like Mercy as an Omega werewolf?
Of course, I had nothing to worry about. Anna is every bit as engaging as Mercy, but in a completely different, distinct way. Never fear, brave readers–we are in very safe, capable hands with Patricia Briggs.
Cry Wolf begins immediately following the events of “Alpha and Omega”, the novella in the On the Prowl anthology (which, for “Alpha and Omega” alone is well worth the price of purchase). A warning–if you have not read “Alpha and Omega”, you might find yourself a bit lost at the beginning of Cry Wolf. There is enough information and explanation to read this book without reading the prior novella, but, as with most stories, fans that have read both “Alpha and Omega” and the Mercy Thompson books will be the more satisfied readers.
A brief recap of the events leading up to Cry Wolf: Anna was a normal, quiet, compassionate girl until the day she was attacked, toyed with and turned into a werewolf at the behest of the Alpha of the Chicago pack. Since her transformation, Anna has been abused, frightened, and cowed into meek submission by the males in her pack. That is, until Anna sees the covered up news of a murdered young boy her pack is responsible for–and in an act of defiance that she should not be able to perform, Anna contacts the Marrok. Bran Cornick, the Marrok, is the big dog, so to speak. As Marrok, he controls all the werewolves in North America, and he’s alarmed when he gets Anna’s call. He sends his right hand man, his son Charles, to Chicago to investigate.
Charles learns that the Chicago pack has been breaking all the rules, and he learns what has happened to Anna. And then, something even stranger happens–Charles’s wolf chooses Anna’s for his mate. This is highly unprecedented since Charles is a very old werewolf and has never had a mate, and because usually it is the human half that selects a mate, and later the wolf side follows. Also, all this happens within 24 hours of knowing each other. Together, Charles and Anna manage to take down the Chicago pack, but not without Charles taking on some serious injuries. The Marrok himself comes down to Chicago to look after his son and Anna, and tells her that they must leave together immediately for Aspen Creek, Montana. Anna, whose wolf has accepted Charles’s for her mate, agrees and packs her worldly belongings and leaves with Bran and Charles.
Anna quickly realizes that she knows nothing about werewolves, despite having been one for three years, due to the abuse and purposeful alienation she has suffered at the hands of her old Alpha. With Charles, however, Anna feels safe for the first time in her life, and together they discover that being mated is more than just having their wolf-sides accept each other.
The Marrok, Charles, Anna, and Samuel (who we know very well from the Mercy Thomspon books) attend a funeral, and a very, very old werewolf in Bran’s pack named Asil makes Anna’s acquaintance…and recognizes her for the Omega she is. And Anna is able to, with a simple touch, calm Asil’s madness within and give him temporary peace. Asil knows what Anna is because his long dead mate, his true love, was also an Omega wolf. And lately, Asil has been haunted by nightmares, reliving his mate’s murder over and over in his dreams. Asil knows something is wrong.
In the cold, wild woods bordering Aspen Creek, a rogue wolf kills a hiker. Something is out there, and Charles and Anna head out to investigate. And somehow, Asil knows that his dreams are connected to the killings.
Cry Wolf is another incredibly strong entry by Patricia Briggs. It took me by surprise, as this book is less focused on the overall mystery story, and much more focused on the relationship between Anna and Charles, which does set it apart from the Mercy Thompson books. This is not to say that the mystery story is not up to par–as Ms. Briggs has shown us time and time again, the plot is detailed and carefully developed. Asil’s storyline, and how it fits in with the investigation of Anna and Charles in the woods is wonderfully crafted.
As always, however, it is Ms. Briggs’s characterizations that really make her work sing. I found myself falling in love with Anna and Charles here, just as I had fallen in love with Mercy. Anna’s story of self-discovery, her compassion, her final understanding of what being an Omega really means is beautiful to read. I love that Anna’s strength is derived from her feelings for others and her need to protect the ones she loves. Similarly, I loved reading more about the mysterious Charles Cornick and seeing his struggle with reconciling his wolf’s mating with Anna to his own human emotions. The burgeoning relationship between these two characters, their missteps and growing trust, is a major part of this book, and one that I think will appeal to readers of not just urban fantasy, but to romance readers as well.
I also was very pleased with how this book fit in to the overall Mercy Universe timeline. Cry Wolf takes place following the events of Moon Called, and the overlap between Mercy’s story and Anna’s here flows nicely. Seeing some characters we know intimately already from the Mercy books, like Bran and Samuel, help to smooth the transition.
One of the things that Cry Wolf does even better than the Mercy books I believe is the further exploration of werewolves and pack politics. Understandably, Mercy’s books are told through the filter of Mercy’s thoughts and perceptions–and as a coyote walker, no matter how much she understands of werewolves having grown up with them, she still is not part of the pack. Anna’s thoughts, however, are pointedly different as she is a werewolf, and I enjoyed the details of werewolf ‘magic’, of the mating bond between wolves, and dominance versus submissiveness.
Now, I’m excited to see if we’ll have a Mercy-Anna crossover at some point in the near future? In Bone Crossed perhaps? I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed.
Notable Quotes/Parts: I loved reading Anna coming into her own–she looks very delicate and meek, but when someone she cares about is threatened, she uses her reservoir of strength to protect them. Without getting too spoilery, in one particular scene in the wilderness, when Charles is threatened and unable to act, Anna’s reaction and ability to protect him is a stunner to read.
Additional Thoughts: One note–Patricia Briggs is an author that does not shy away from darker aspects. The abuse that Anna has been through is cutting for the character, psychologically and physically. I love this about Ms. Briggs and her writing; the unflinching look at the darker side of pack politics is something I appreciate, and Ms. Briggs manages to tackle these heftier issues with sensitivity and relevance to her overall storylines.
Verdict: I loved this new entry to the Mercy Thompson universe. This is a book not to be missed by fans of Ms. Briggs’s earlier works, and should be a wonderful introduction for new readers. Cry Wolf is thrilling, gritty, and sexy to boot. Highly recommended, and I cannot wait to read more of Anna and Charles.
Rating: 8 Excellent
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