Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “Nudge.”
When the pack is called on to help dispatch a troll attacking a bridge, Mercy is shocked to see Zee and Tad show up to help. With them is a young man with a powerful and unstable magic whom Zee asks sanctuary for.
Aiden, a human kidnapped as a child and held in the Underhill for centuries, has escaped and the fae want him back at all costs. In a desperate measure to ensure Aiden safety, Mercy grants him sanctuary and defies the fae and the Marrock by claiming the city to be under the protection of her pack. With the gauntlet thrown down, the pack, along with some very unlikely allies, will have to work together to keep Aiden safe. But who’s going to keep them safe from Aiden?
Patricia Briggs takes readers back on a magically propelled adventure in her ninth installment when Mercy and the pack are forced to face off with the fae when they meet and are obligated to protect a young man with an amazing and dangerous power. Brimming with intrigue, action, suspense, romance, and just the right amount of humor, Briggs’s focuses heavily on adding to the already multi-layered world and over extended arc while divulging deeper into the characters who all inhabit this world- introducing new ones and giving us further insight into older ones. We see more inclusion of another series that runs tandem with this one, Alpha & Omega, as Briggs’s uses this installment as a bridge to the next A&O and Mercy Thomson book to help set up and lead us towards the large scale supernatural war that awaits on the horizon.
Fire Touched picks up not long after Night Broken; choosing to reveal in a different fashion as the conflict takes center stage over Mercy and is not dependant on her to develop. This new approach doesn’t detract from the installment, if anything it capitalizes on Briggs’s talents; showcasing her flexibility and skills as a writer. Though not quite as intense as some of the prior installments, there are quite a few game changers in here that will have fans cheering and speculating towards the future.
“Let the Gray Lords in their halls know that the Columbia Basin Pack holds these lands and grants sanctuary to whomever we choose.”
Mercy has since recovered from her injuries in Night Broken. Her near death experience affected Adam far deeper than anyone suspected, causing him to FINALLY take action with his pack and issue them a much-needed ultimatum. With her health and well-being back to normal, Mercy jumps back into the fray and trouble finds her soon enough. With her need to champion the underdog, she unintentionally forces the pack into a possible war with the fae and announces to the rest of the world they aren’t backing down for no one. This action has far greater implications than expected. The Columbia Basin Pack is already not universally loved by other packs due to their modern views and penchant for trouble. This new development with the fae causes Bran to make a difficult but necessary choice regarding their pack. One that is politically necessary but causes Mercy some heartache and a greater understanding of her position in the hierarchy. But don’t get too cranky, folks. When has Bran not had a few tricks up his sleeve when it comes to his Mercy?
“He had to do that,” Adam said. He waited, then said in a soft voice, “Mercy, he had to do this.”
“Of course he did,” I said, still frozen on Adam’s lap.
Mercy remains a strong solid character in this series. Briggs’s has kept her true to herself even as we have watched her grow from a solitary figure minding her own business into a warrior with a husband, a family, and a cast of very interesting friends and allies. Having been raised by the Marrok himself, there is an interesting line drawn between her and humanity. She relates easier to them than most supernaturals but still struggles with some of the finer nuances. Her compassion, intelligence, loyalty, and sense of justice often leads her into danger yet it’s those attributes that make her the warrior she is.
“You bore me.”
“I need the boy.”
“And your offer?”
“The note told you we are willing to allow you your territory.”
“No one allows me anything…”
Her relationship with Adam has grown in leaps and bounds. Though married and completely in love, she has had a hard time letting go of her feelings of abandonment. There was always a small part of her that expected Adam to grow sick of her and her issues and leave her-like everyone else has in her life. She seems to be finally settling on and realizing that he choose her and loves her for who she is no matter what the others say. There is a new easiness to them that wasn’t always apparent before.
“So,” he said, shaking his head. “I’m too much for you. You should have said something. We might be married, Mercy, but no still means no.”
I widened my eyes at him. “I just haven’t wanted to hurt your feelings.”
“When I give you that little nudge, hmm?” His voice took on a considering air. “Come to think of it, I’m feeling a little nudge coming on right now.”
“Now?” I whispered in horrified tones. I looked up toward Jesse’s room. “Think of the children.”
Though she often tries not to not make any waves in the pack, I liked that Adam finally stepped up to the plate and did what was necessary. She needed to see him make this stand even if she was a little grumpy about it. This emotional subplot has been free floating through the series for a long time and it’s ready to be put to bed. I especially enjoyed that Mercy and Adam were able to stay together in this installment. To often Adam is incapacitated or forced to deal with the same events from a different location, leaving Mercy alone in her battles.
The storyline moves steadily, giving us different POVs from various characters involved and goes far in explaining the events of previous books and highlighting the consequences of the decisions that were made. The main conflict is dealt with is an acceptable intriguing manner with more than it’s fair share of humor. New characters are introduced and old characters make appearances; each one with an agenda that may or may not align with Mercy’s but they offer their support for now. I loved the inclusion of some unique creatures whose likes aren’t often seen in urban fantasy. It not only creates a bigger pool from which Briggs’s to play in but also gives the series a fresh feel that isn’t easy when you are so far in it. Briggs’s also continues to address the issues that have plagued the series since the beginning-prejudice, bigotry, and abuse. An alternate world view doesn’t automatically mean a better world and Briggs’s makes sure we understand this.
“We are all monsters here, “ he said. “It’s too late for any of us to be anything else.”
“That depends, “ I said.
He looked at me with mild inquiry.
“On your definition of monster, “ said Tad, “who do you allow to tell you what you are? Monster or angel, it’s in the eye of the beholder, surely.”
Fire Touched is the installment that lays the foundation for what’s to come in a manner that is both exciting and informative. Her unvoiced inclusion of the Alpha & Omega series only adds to the thrill of anticipation. I am more than ready for the next book in both of these series and am looking forward to see what adventures Briggs’s has in store for us.