Monday, 16 June 2008

‘Blood Bound’ – Patricia Briggs (Orbit Books)

After what felt like a manic Saturday, went to a Terry Pratchett signing amongst other things, yesterday was strictly for chilling out and watching the world go by with a good book and a glass of pear cider (very nice actually, try it!). Because of my extremely sleepy state of mind I was after a read with a plot that buzzed along, something that would wake me up a little. With this in mind (and because I enjoyed the previous book) I chose ‘Blood Bound’, the latest in the ‘Mercy Thompson’ series. It was a pretty good choice as well…
If you haven’t read any of these books, Mercy Thompson is a mechanic who lives in the Tri-City area in a time when Fae creatures are just starting to announce their presence and live openly amongst humans. Mercy isn’t Fae but not quite human either, she is a shapechanger whose animal form (coyote) leads her into confrontations, over pecking order, with the local were-wolf pack. Mercy also owes a favour to a vampire and it’s this that will lead her into more trouble. All he was after was a witness that wouldn’t be noticed, one bloodbath later and Mercy finds out that the one thing more dangerous than a vampire is a vampire possessed by a demon…
‘Blood Bound’ follows ‘Moon Called’ very closely in terms of plot structure, maybe a little bit too much. Mercy gets into trouble; Mercy gets herself out of trouble but still finds herself in the thick of things, Mercy has a score to settle, Mercy… well, you get the picture. Maybe this is to be expected if you’re setting up a series where the main protagonist is investigative by nature. While the characters may change (which they do) there’s only so many original situations that they can find themselves in before it starts to get ‘samey’. To be fair though, this is only the second book in the series so maybe I’m expecting too much too soon.
Although the plot was generally pretty cohesive there was one strand that left me wondering as to its relevance. It served to introduce an investigative journalist, who puts some useful information Mercy’s way, but it appeared to peter out with no resolution and left me wondering whether this was being left open ended (for another book) or if Briggs didn’t really know where to take it. I guess I’ll find out another time (as I do intend to continue reading this series) but it was a little infuriating to be left hanging like that.
All this sounds like I hated ‘Blood Bound’ but this couldn’t be any further from the truth. Despite the issues I had with it, ‘Blood Bound’ is still a very entertaining read. The plot flies along at a very fast pace and Briggs flits from ‘full on action’ to ‘scary and tense’ so smoothly you’ll hardly notice until something big happens and you’re jumping out of your skin (like I did when Mercy woke up to find the vampire/demon staring through her bedroom window!) I’m also enjoying the characterisation where, despite fae or preternatural origins, everyone seems to be ‘down to earth’ (even some of the vampires) in a way that accentuates their ‘otherworldliness’ and also makes them more accessible to the reader. Despite my earlier quibble about ‘plot strands left hanging’, it’s also good to see a world being gradually built up (i.e. the Fae slowly being accepted by humans) rather than just being dumped on the reader as a fait accompli.
I’d like to see this series start to explore different directions in the future, so it doesn’t end up repeating itself, but ‘Blood Bound’ was a fun read in the meantime. Another urban fantasy that I’ll be following for the foreseeable future!

Seven and a Half out of Ten


Nancy Beck said...

Damn - I still have to read the first in the series, and I'm already working my way through 2 different series at the moment, lol.

So many books, so little time!

majikgodss said...

I thought it was really good--and the third was better (in my opinion). She isn't afraid to allow Mercy to get hurt (again, the third books is excellent) and characterizes everybody very well--I am totally absorbed in the series, I wish there were more of them out already :)

ThRiNiDiR said...

Hey Graeme, what are the other "urban fantasy" series that you follow? A wild guess would be Dresden Files,but besides that? I need some recommendations since I'm really not familiar with this subgenre; Trin is reviewing Stephenie Meyer's stuff at the moment, but I believe I stay well clear off those :).

Graeme Flory said...

Hey Thrinidir,

The Dresden Files are a safe bet for good urban fantasy reading but you should definitely try Mike Carey's 'Felix Castor' books, they're the best out there in my opinion ;o)
Kelley Armstrong's books (that I have read) are worth a look as are Charlie Huston's 'Joe Pitt' books.

Have fun!

Anonymous said...

Some other good urban fantasy novels would be "The Walker Papers" by C.E. Murphy, which include "Urban Shaman," "Thunderbird Falls," and "Coyote Dreams."