I’m up to page 395 of the paperback, having finished the story ‘Redemption’. This primarily features Ben Shaw, a werewolf from Adam Hauptman’s pack in the Mercyverse. Ben is a dominant wolf who is curiously low on the totem pole in the pack, an immigrant from England, and a troubled, disagreeable, tumultuous soul who is mostly tight-lipped about his woes.
But in this story he’s undergoing ‘a sea change, into something rich and strange’. Werewolves live long, long lives, long enough for therapy to be almost redundant. Live so long, and you almost can’t help but change and grow – whether you like it or not.
image – Conejo Conejo https://www.flickr.com/photos/findingalice/ licence https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/, no changes
Ben is changing, and he finds it deeply uncomfortable. He’s learning how to change, and how to recognise that other people exist (as someone interviewing Camille LaPaglia once put it.) And that some of them have a claim on him, after he has, almost unknowingly, entered into the social compact, into relationship.
(He’s learning how to care, and how to love. He would so hate to hear it put in such sentimental terms!) He’s finding his place in the world.
There’s a lot of biff!bang!pow! in Briggs’ books. What else would you expect in urban fantasy, with violent scary mystical creatures on every page? But in this story, most of the monsters are internal, psychological. The quest is to overcome them and become stronger, more loving, braver. Certainly, more honest.
I will concede that the ending is a little vague and off, hits a bum note, and the story drifts and veers away at the end. But it’s a very minor point. Briggs achieves something beautiful here, something subtle and fine. So, for that matter, does Ben.