At the start of “River Marked”, I found myself smiling. I was glad to be back in Mercy’s company and pleased that she has been granted some happiness. Patricia Briggs writes in a way that makes me feel that I’m going, if not home, then at least back to a favourite place when I open a Mercedes Thompson book. That’s a rare gift.
Mercy is getting married. Honest. Any day soon. If she can survive her mother’s plan-everything-down-to-the-last-second approach. As the wedding plans devolved into chaos my smile broadened. This felt warm and real.
When the Fae offered a fancy mobile home for Mercy’s honeymoon and a free stay at a perfect spot, I grinned harder, knowing that bad things were bound to follow.
The honeymoon takes place on the Columbia River, near Horsethief Lake Park in Washington and the Bad Thing is drawn from Native American traditions and is a lot scarier than the vampires and most of the Fae we’ve met so far. This monster iss hunger incarnate and people are its favourite prey.
I liked the way this story uses Mercy’s Native American heritage and of course, her Walker/Coyote nature to give her a better understanding of herself without getting all soppy about it and without sentimentalising Native American Myths.
There were clever links to the pictographs in the Park and the scene in the local standing stones was very well done. I loved the fact that Mercy’s magical nature meant she could see things the young shaman-in-training wanted to believe in but had not yet managed to see.
This time, even though Adam is at her side, it is Mercy who must save the day. She gets help from some surprising places, including meeting with Coyote himself. Patricia Briggs manages to balance, magic, myth, murderous violence with humour and compassion in a way I find very pleasing.
The book also moves Mercy on. It gives her happiness and security and demonstrates her strength while still showing her as vulnerable. The letter Mercy wrote to Adam, to be opened if she didn’t survive her encounter with the Big Bad, summed her up perfectly.