Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs (Alpha & Omega #5)
Released: March 6, 2018
Reviewed by Mandi
The Alpha & Omega series is set in the same world as Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series. Over the years, I have found A&O to be consistently amazing, where as sometimes I find Mercy Thompson series to be just okay. (Although overall, both series swirl around as urban fantasy favorites). Briggs is a terrific storyteller. She presents strong, flawed, sometimes terrifying characters and her werewolf culture and world building is absolutely the best.
Burn Bright is a good addition to this series, but I wouldn’t put it up there with my favorites. I think my main complaint is that I found it a little slow – but there is also a lot of good things we discover in this book. We learn much about the wildlings, those few wolves that live alone, and are extremely fragile, broken, scarred – but Bran allows to thrive by themselves in the wilderness. I think the blurb describes them well:
They are the wild and the broken. The werewolves too damaged to live safely among their own kind. For their own good, they have been exiled to the outskirts of Aspen Creek, Montana. Close enough to the Marrok’s pack to have its support; far enough away to not cause any harm.
We also get a lot of page time with Leah, Bran’s mate, who always totally intrigues me.
Bran is away (isn’t he always?) so Charles, the second in command, and his wife Anna, the omega, are leading the pack. Charles gets a mysterious phone call from a wildling named Jonesy. He has fae blood and is mated to a female wolf named Hester. Jonesy calls because there has been an incident, and they need Charles’s help. He won’t give any more detail. Charles and Anna make their way to Jonesy and Hester, and chaos erupts. Humans, armed with super-advanced technology and weapons, are secretly prowling around. They are hunting for someone or something, and Charles and Anna, along with the rest of the pack must figure out why they are there, who they are and how to stop them before more devastation and destruction occurs. As you learn in the prologue – there is a traitor among them….who could it be?
I don’t really want to give away any details surrounding Jonesy, Hester, and the action that takes place so I’m being vague about it. But I’ll talk about what I liked in this book. I found the wildlings so fascinating. Briggs writes a very structured shifter world, where there is hierarchy and strict rules. The wildlings are more unknown. Bran allows them to live on their own terms, deep in the forest, but with one rule – they are not allowed to kill anyone. For any reason. They cherish their freedom, so they obey this rule. I love how intensely mentally unbalanced they are. When Charles and Anna have to interact with them, it’s quite suspenseful. Are they lucid? Will they make a sudden, violent move? As the reader, it really keeps you on the edge of your seat. Briggs writes Charles and Anna as almost sweet (and yes, I know Charles is the one sent to kill wolves when needed – sweet isn’t an accurate description). But they have a conscience is maybe better put.
The wildlings – they feel so different. They can have monsters living inside of them:
The outer man who was simple and…sweet, and the creature that lived inside of him who was not sweet. And that something inside Jonesy was powerful, his magic a dense ball of power imprisoned within. How much power, Charles could not fathom. A lot. The monster saw Charles looking and grinned a bloodthirsty grin, though Jonesy’s rather anxious expression didn’t change at all.
Or what we get from another wildling, named Wellesley:
Wellesley shook his head violently. “That’s stupid,” he growled. “Stupid. Stupid. We have seen her when she didn’t know we were watching. haven’t we? She is weak, she is prey. We should eat her. She would taste like the girl in Tennessee. Better maybe.”
I love the supremely violent nature that Briggs puts into this world. It makes it feel so – detailed and realistic.
We also spend time with Leah. With Bran gone, she is walking around the house butting heads with Anna, big time. There is eye rolling, and blame and just – all things cranky Leah. I love her. It’s interesting to see her openly hate people, but also protect her pack and cut anyone who dares harm one of hers. We get multiple points of view in this story, which I also really liked.
One odd thing that is brought up early in the book and it’s not mentioned at any other time but made me take notice. Anna and Charles are talking about Mercy/Bran/Leah dynamic and they have this conversation:
Bran is funny about Mercy. If you were that funny about Mercy, I would feel the same way Leah does—no matter how likable I might find her.”
“Bran’s not funny about her,” he told Anna, feeling uncomfortable. “He thinks of her as his daughter, and he doesn’t have any other daughters still alive. There’s nothing strange about it.”
“Or so everyone is much happier believing,” agreed Anna blandly. “Including Bran. We’ll leave it at that. So the musical evenings were a thing between Bran and Mercy?”
“Not like that,” Charles said, feeling defensive because Anna put her finger right on something that he’d been ignoring for a long time. He took a deep breath. “All right. All right. You might have a point about Da and Mercy.”
She smiled, just a little.
He threw up his hands. “Okay. Yes. I saw it, of course I did. As did Leah. But my da would never have moved on Mercy. Say what you will about him—but his wolf has accepted Leah as his mate, and he will not cheat on her. And Mercy has never seen him as anything except a father figure and her Alpha. That’s what she needed, and that’s what he gave her. I don’t think Mercy has ever recognized that it could be more than that.”
Now – I’ve not reread this series at all, I only read the books when they release. And obviously this plays into the Mercy Thompson series as well – so maybe this IS a thing that is known to other readers and I’m just out of the loop/missed it. But I thought this was weird. I’ve never once gotten the impression that Bran had any thoughts about Mercy that were not fatherly/guardian. Romantic?? I don’t like this. I personally really hope this doesn’t come up again. I find Bran so freaking fascinating even though he barely ever has page time and for his feelings to maybe lean towards Mercy doesn’t sit well with me. And like I said, it’s not brought up anymore in the story so maybe it was just a glimpse into Bran and Mercy’s past (a story is brought up about Mercy and the pack when she was younger right after this) and it’s not meant to have a big impact. But it definitely caught my eye.
There are a few slow parts in this story, but overall I found it all intriguing. I will never be able to get enough of this world.