What I’ve been reading – Outtake from ‘Night Broken’ by Patricia Briggs

This is another outtake, included in the short story collection ‘Shifting Shadows’ by Patricia Briggs.  This one is from ‘Night Broken’ which is not a hot favourite of mine.  It’s the book where Mercy and Adam’s relationship – at least for the reader, or at least for me – started to slow down and become repetitive, a little stagnant.

(Their mutual adoration society is getting a little cloying.  I’d love to read them having an actual row, sometime.   I mean, a proper row, about taking out the trash or who drank three-quarters of the bottle, you dipso pig. 

Not, “Oh, Adam,” *breathy voice, maidenly hand to forehead* “it’s so claustrophobic when you adore and protect me all the time!” 

“Oh, Mercy, damn you woman, must you be so wild and free and recklessly brave, it makes me insanely aggravated with desire!”  /Adam chews a countertop into kibble with frantic unhinged devotion)

But the outtake is rather cute, and maybe it would have improved the book if it had been included.

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image – Erin Perry https://www.flickr.com/photos/pips/ licence https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/ no changes

Of course, it could just be cute because it includes both Coyote – Mercy’s supernatural ‘Daddy’ – and the walking stick.  These are two of my favourite supporting characters in the Mercyverse.  They’re both fun and daft and frivolous, and make everything they feature in fun.

It’s not difficult to tell that Briggs is a pantster, as far as writing goes.  This outtake contains a one-line plot-hole explanation, subsequent to the entire action.  (Something regarding Coyote’s role, you’ll have to read it if you want to know what.)  And it’s not the first one I’ve come across from Briggs, or the second, or even the third, I think.

That isn’t exactly a criticism.  Tight plotting isn’t my own strength, either.  OTOH, I’m not making big bucks on the bestseller lists.  So I feel pretty much free to jump up and down, shout “YOWZA!”, and run around just writing whatever seems like fun.  Having a good time, in short, doing whatever I feel.

Ms Briggs, however, has fans who’ll shell out for a pricey hardback, sight unseen, on the basis of having followed the series for yonks.  When all they know about it is the title.  I mean me.  I mean, like me.  I do that, on the regular.

I think a little extra care, an outline here and there, wouldn’t be unreasonable.

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What I’ve been reading – outtake from ‘Silver Borne’ by Patricia Briggs

 

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image – https://www.flickr.com/photos/internetarchivebookimages/ – no known copyright restrictions.

This is, as suggested, an outtake from the Briggs Mercyverse novel ‘Silver Borne’.  That novel isn’t my fave, although it’s not bad.  But I’ve never much cared for Samuel Cornick – for a supposedly dominant werewolf he’s a bit of a drip, a moaning Minnie with not much go in him.  And Ariana the dark and tortured Fae, his old girlfriend – well, she has more flowery speeches, all over the place, than she’s got personality.

This is overwritten, annoying, verbose and dull.  No chemistry, no charm, no ta.

Sorry to the superfans, but although I love Briggs she sometimes cocks up completely.  It only makes her human, and I appreciate the really wonderful parts of her writing all the more.

What I’ve been reading – ‘Hollow’ by Patricia Briggs

This is the tenth story in the ‘Shifting Shadows’ collection, and it’s a ghost story – always my fave!  It’s also a Mercyverse story featuring Mercy herself, which marks it as a special occasion for any Briggs fan.  Here, Mercy takes submissive pack wolf Zack along with her on a ghost-hunt, also a treat because Zack is a complete sweetie.

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image – Conejo Conejo https://www.flickr.com/photos/findingalice/ licence https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/, no changes

The ‘guests’ – i.e. characters new to the Mercyverse – in this story are Lisa, a woman who runs a groundskeeping/housekeeping company, and Rick, one of her rich and reclusive clients.  Rick is having trouble with the ghost of his dead wife, and Lisa is having trouble because, SPOILERS – Continue reading “What I’ve been reading – ‘Hollow’ by Patricia Briggs”

What I’ve been reading – Shifting Shadows by Patricia Briggs

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.

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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.

 

What I’ve been reading: ‘In Red, With Pearls’ by Patricia Briggs

Oh, wow.  This is the eighth story in the ‘Shifting Shadows’ short story collection by Patricia Briggs.  And this, this is my favourite, by far.

5355256940_ea1fb8b053_oimage – Conejo Conejo https://www.flickr.com/photos/findingalice/ licence https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/, no changes

It was an unfair contest, really.  This is the first story to give Mercyverse characters Warren, and his human mate Kyle, starring roles.  Warren and Kyle.  I know for sure that they’re not just my favourites.  They are swoony, ladies.  And gentlemen.  Swoony.

And it’s not only that it features my special pets.  This story, compared to the others thus far, is perfectly structured, the harmony of incident and character sings out, it’s just so satisfying.  It gives you everything you need to work with, warning rumblings of the storm ahead.  And yet, they’re backgrounded sufficiently for the ending to be a kick in the teeth from a mule.

And the passion!  The naked emotion from manly reserved men!  (Well, manly reserved Warren.  Kyle doesn’t hold back his feelings, any more than a bustin’ dam with a hundred tons of water pent up behind it.  When Kyle is indignant or enamoured or just plain out for blood, then look out!)

Oh man, don’t mess with Warren – or his man!  I pity the sister who messes with Warren’s Mr!  (Or Kyle’s, for that matter.)

Dammit.  It’s just too good.  It’s a taste that only makes the reader hungry for more: for a full-length novel, with Warren and Kyle front and centre.  Come onSurely there must be plans in the works?  A novella, even?  A little prequel covering how they met and got together would be amazing!

Ms Briggs!  With all these wonderful LGBTQ characters, you have truly spoiled us!  And like any spoilt brat, all I can say is can we have MORE slashy Mercyverse stories, and soon!  (Can we have gay Bran?)  (Can we have any kind of romance for Bran?  Bran needs lovin’!  Urgently!)

There’s just something about a gay werewolf, folks.  Furry, muscular, wild and free under the moon…  And after this wonderful story, I’m just howlin’ for more.