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.

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

 

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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

Finished reading Roses In Winter, seventh story in the collection.  It features Asil, the dominant and very old Spanish werewolf who has sought refuge with the Marrok’s pack.  And Kara, a minor character from the Mercyverse – a young girl who has been bitten, but is having trouble successfully making the transition to werewolf.

TBH I find almost any story featuring Asil tiresomely melodramatic.  I can’t help it, he just rubs me the wrong way.  It’s all death, tragedy, and profoundly sophisticated and seductive – well, he obviously thinks so – Eurotrashy gestures with this geezer.  I imagine him with an accent like the English spies off ‘Allo ‘Allo – “Is it a bumb?  I teenk it eez a bumb!”

This is a story you might like, if you like that sort of thing.  The ending should have wrung the heart, but it only made me roll my eyes.

Without the prosaic you can’t have the profound, for the highs you need the lows and the boring sea-level humdrum.  Asil’s tales aim for a continuous high pitch of drama, and wind up just screeching at you like a fire-alarm.

What I’m reading – Shifting Shadows by Patricia Briggs

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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

Finished ‘Alpha and Omega’, the fifth story in the collection. This story is a preface to the series of the same name, and covers the meeting of Charles, the Marrok’s second son and enforcer, and Anna, an Omega from another pack. I don’t care for this series, or story, as much as the Mercyverse. I find Charles rather unconvincing and lacking in personality, and Anna too sugary-sweet and timid. No chemistry here.

By and large the supporting characters were paper-thin, too.  I probably hold Briggs to standards that are too high.  ‘Moon Called’ was such a perfectly realised little work of popular commercial art that it would be incredibly tough to write not one but two long-running series to the same unvarying standard of quality.  And considering what a cash-cow the books have become, why should she?  Good on her, really.

 

What I’m reading: Shifting Shadows by Patricia Briggs

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Now I’ve finished Seeing Eye, the fourth story of Shifting Shadows.  Loved the MCs, Tom the werewolf and Moira the witch, lots of chemistry there. (Bubbling away in the cauldron!) I prefer witch stories to most other paranormals so it was always going to be a win for me. Plus, Moira’s ‘special characteristic’ *cough spoilers cough* is a jaw-dropper. Really really liked this one, possibly my fave in the whole book. Briggs is on top form here.  Loved just how badass Moira is, no simpering girlies here!

 

image – Tom Lee https://www.flickr.com/photos/68942208@N02/ licence https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

What I’m reading – ‘Shifting Shadows’ by Patricia Briggs

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I’m up to page 133 of 451 of Shifting Shadows, having finished ‘Gray’ – vampire story, quite sad, touches of hope. I’m only really touched by a small number of Ms Briggs’ characters. This didn’t really do it for me, though nicely written.  She has a tendency to provide rather indeterminate will-they-or-won’t-they endings for potential romantic couples, and frankly I find it frustrating.  Tell us!  Is it all on or not?

It’s a cock-tease literary tactic, when really the reader wants a romantic, er, happy ending.

 

image – keeping down the underground https://www.flickr.com/photos/keepingdowntheunderground/ licence https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

What I’ve been reading – Hopcross Jilly by Patricia Briggs

Patricia Briggs Mercy Thompson: Hopcross JillyPatricia Briggs Mercy Thompson: Hopcross Jilly by Patricia Briggs

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I preferred this graphic novel short story to some of the regular installments in text-format of the Mercy Thompson story. The artwork was beautiful, the colour-scheme was perfect – moody and Gothic – and Adam in particular was beautifully drawn. He looked almost as young as he’s actually supposed to appear. (Although Mercy looked rather younger, TBH.)

It’s nice to have a Jesse-centric story, as she’s one of my favourite characters and I love her interactions with Mercy. And a genuinely unnerving old-wives’-tale Big Bad, too! Four stars all round.

ETA – must also add, as always – where the heck is the contemporary Bran-centric story, with a real romance for him? Where? WHERE? It must surely be in the works? Surely? Please?

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What I’ve been reading – Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs

Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson, #10)Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is definitely not the best Patricia Briggs book you could begin with, but it still pains me to rate it so low. Actually it’s more of a 2.5. There are some good things in this book, and they should have been filleted out and re-stitched together into a much better book. Unfortunately it begins to feel as if Briggs has got herself into a J.K. Rowling-type situation, where no-one dares to touch the Holy Manuscript of Truth and Genius. A ruthless and effective editor could have made a truly great book out of what’s worthwhile here. But it doesn’t read as if one was ever given the opportunity.

The absolute worst thing here is the fight scene between Adam and a twisted Euro-trashy vampire. Dear God, this is the worst-written literary violence I have ever read. Every tiny little move is over-choreographed, there are paragraphs and paragraphs inside Adam’s head and dissecting the moves, motivations and mental states of both participants, and then there’s the bathos! My Lord! A tablecloth is involved, and it’s simply impossible to read a supposedly deadly serious and bloodthirsty scene while vampires are playing toreador with tablecloths. And sweeping them off tables while leaving the china intact! Like terrible 70s magicians!

In a way it actually is so awful that it’s great. But not great in the way you want a Patricia Briggs novel to be.

There are too many new characters introduced, and even that might have worked if they’d been given any depth. Also a brand-new werewolf pack, shown to be at least somewhat trustworthy and ethical, are dismissed and vilified in the final pages of the book, a bewildering turnaround.

Silence Fallen isn’t awful, it isn’t truly dire, there are things worth reading here. They often come from Mercy’s internal monologue on her own past history, and her musings on human nature and history. It’s a shame I had to search so hard for them. But realistically, if you love Mercy – and I still do – you’re going to read this book anyway.

Honestly, I’m sticking around because I’m still waiting for the Bran-centric book where his emotional vitality is restored and he finds a new love. Preferably a pretty male werewolf, but either way I think he needs a passionate romantic renewal. Can we have that, please?

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What I’m reading – Shifting Shadows by Patricia Briggs

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Finished ‘Fairy Gifts’ in this collection of short stories – the story of Thomas (vampire) & Margaret (fae) from the Mercy Thompson universe (Moon Called et al). The story is a vast improvement on ‘Silver’, Thomas in particular nicely characterized and believable. The twist in the tale is not very unexpected, but this still makes a satisfying story. The historical element is also realistic and interesting, and without the annoying ‘mythic’ quality of Silver. (I didn’t like Silver!)

 

Image – Just Another Shot https://www.flickr.com/photos/wideopencode/ licence https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

Mercy Thompson: Hopcross Jilly by Patricia Briggs – Goodreads book review

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Mercy Thompson: Hopcross JillyMercy Thompson: Hopcross Jilly by Patricia Briggs

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I preferred this graphic novel short story to some of the regular installments in text-format of the Mercy Thompson story. The artwork was beautiful, the colour-scheme was perfect – moody and Gothic – and Adam in particular was beautifully drawn. He looked almost as young as he’s actually supposed to appear. (Although Mercy looked rather younger, TBH.)

It’s nice to have a Jesse-centric story, as she’s one of my favourite characters and I love her interactions with Mercy. And a genuinely unnerving old-wives’-tale Big Bad, too! Four stars all round.

ETA – must also add, as always – where the heck is the contemporary Bran-centric story, with a real romance for him? Where? WHERE? It must surely be in the works? Surely? Please?

View all my reviews

Image – Mathias Appel on Flickr, public domain.