Patricia Briggs,
Blood Bound
(Ace, 2007)

Moon Called, author Patricia Briggs' introduction to the shapeshifting Mercy Thompson, was good. Blood Bound, the sequel, is better.

Mercy lives among werewolves in a society that knows they -- as well as various fae populations -- exist. But Mercy isn't a werewolf; lycanthropy is a culture based in European roots, while Mercy's coyote shape is rooted in Native American lore. She is far less powerful in her coyote form, but has certain advantages, such as a natural resistance to vampiric mind games.

That will prove to be a useful trait in Blood Bound, which pits Mercy, the local werewolf pack and the community of vampires -- who have not been revealed to the public at large -- against a rogue vampire with a demon in thrall and powerful sorcerous abilities at his command.

As the body count rises and key characters are taken out of play, Mercy finds herself fighting an enemy she can't even find, much less defeat with any certainty. To add a delicious layer of tension to the story, her allies may prove as deadly as the sorceror she's hunting -- she definitely can't trust them to watch her back.

And all she really wants to do is keep her garage open for business and tinker in her spare time on her beloved VW Rabbit.

Refreshingly, the romance aspect of the story -- Mercy has two powerful werewolves and maybe a vampire vying for her affections -- is subdued, almost inconsequential to the plot. Some folks might be disappointed, but romance is making such a heavy push into contemporary paranormal fiction, it's almost a relief to see it de-emphasized for a change. Mercy is no heart of stone, but she certainly doesn't feel the need to have a man in her life, for love or protection against the greater dark.

Blood Bound is a compelling story with a strong, capable heroine who defies expectations in an increasingly crowded genre. Characters, action and suspense work together smoothly to drive the plot in interesting directions, and readers will hug the pages as Briggs takes unexpected turns.

Word is, Briggs has a contract for several more novels in the Mercy Thompson series; let's hope she can sustain the excitement and interest. With these two books under her belt, she's off to a great start.

[ visit the author's website ]

review by
Tom Knapp

19 May 2007

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