I’ve included the video above of Patricia Briggs discussing the Mercy Thompson series because it gives a brief background synopsis on the series and the paranormal/preternatural groups who feature so heavily in it.
Although River Marked is Book #6 in the series, I believe it can stand alone because there’s just enough background info for things to make sense. Besides, this novel takes Mercy outside of her normal geographical area – but that’s getting ahead of things. If you read River Marked, you can see if you like the series enough to go back and read the first five. I loved this series from Book #1 and I think you will too. It’s still a very strong and vibrant series, and has dodged the formulaic trap that some series fall into.
Mercy Thompson runs a mechanic shop in eastern Oregon, not to be confused with western Oregon. Like a lot of the Western coastal states, once you get over the Cascade Mountains in Oregon, the climate and terrain is hot and dry, with basically chaparral and desert-like conditions.
Mercy is a shifter, a coyote, and has inherited walker abilities from her Native American father. She’s also got incredible mechanical abilities. If it’s on two or four wheels, she can fix it. After many ups and downs in their relationship, Mercy is finally engaged to and mated with Adam, the Columbia Basin pack’s Alpha werewolf. Adam runs a security firm that contracts with the government. It’s no stretch to understand why humans might think werewolves would be good at security.
When River Marked opens, Mercy’s in bad need of a vacation because she’s been through hell in the past few months, but she’s resisting it because she doesn’t want to leave her garage in anyone else’s hands. When she goes to pick up Stefan, a vampire friend, for some much needed therapy a.k.a. Bad Movie Night, she’s appalled by how far he and his people have sunk since Marsilia, Mistress of the Tri-Cities vampires, forced Stefan to entrap “traitors.”
“’You’re supposed to be taking care of these people.’ [Mercy]I snapped at [Stefan]him. Okay, so he did scare me, which is why I was snippy. Get-scared-and-get-mad wasn’t always smart. I, raised in a pack of werewolves, certainly knew better. But looking at Stefan and what had happened to his home made me want to cry – and I’d rather get scared and mad than do that.”
When Adam gets back into town, he convinces Mercy to take 10 days off even though she doesn’t want to leave Stefan or the garage. They rent a luxurious trailer and drive to the steppe-country part of the Columbia River, on the Washington side near Maryville. The Columbia River is a popular destination for campers who love to swim and ride the river in rafts or drift along in inner tubes, or who are avid fishermen. In case you’re unfamiliar with the area, Memaloose State Park is an example of one of these real-life kinds of parks along the Columbia River Gorge. Mercy is excited and nervous at the same time. Adam’s arranged for them to have a brand-new campground all to themselves. Mercy loves swimming in the river. They grill, run in their were and shifter forms, eat at favorite restaurants, and Mercy gradually begins to relax.
And then people begin drowning before their families’ eyes, or disappearing while fishing. Bizarre rumors are circulating about the drownings and disappearances. When Mercy wades out into the river to help fishermen pull a badly injured man’s boat out of the water, and comes away with some nasty injuries of her own, she and Adam listen to the men’s story and begin to suspect there’s much more to these disappearances than the authorities have told them.
“I pulled up my pant leg. It had been so cold, and my feet had taken such a battering, I hadn’t really been paying attention. It hurt, but I hadn’t connected that to actual damage. And there was quite a lot, really. Something had ripped the skin off my calf and taken some meat with it. It looked like a really nasty rope burn…I heard [Adam]him take a deep breath, then move closer. After a minute, he shook his head and stood up. ‘Thought I smelled something odd, but there’s no telling what a rope might gather sitting in the river.’”
As they search for answers, it becomes clear that something inside the river is drawing people to it and killing them. They also learn Mercy’s injuries aren’t what they appear to be, and are likely to put her life and Adam’s in imminent danger. Their questions include whether Mercy’s injuries can be healed, what could be the source of all this, and what, if anything, can be done about it? To answer their questions, Mercy and Adam will have to form alliances with people of all kinds who can help them decipher this dangerous puzzle. They don’t know the area and they don’t know who, if anyone, can be trusted. They will search for clues in artifacts left by early Native American cultures who occupied this land before Sam Hill came to form his Quaker settlement. Mercy, who thought she was the last of her kind, will discover and have to consult with other walkers, and she and Adam will have to draw on the knowledge of other preternatural groups in the area who may have their own hidden agendas.
Some vacation, huh? For me, this was one of Mercy’s scarier adventures because the dangers were all below the surface (pun intended). It meant another bleary-eyed night for me because I’ve grown to really care about the characters in this series and I didn’t want to put River Marked down until I knew everyone was going to be okay. It’s as if I thought I could keep harm from befalling them if I just kept reading. LOL Yes, I do get into books that much. This series, and this novel in particular, blends together Native American culture with paranormal/preternatural culture in a very unique way that I find appealing and I believe you will too. Enjoy!
If you’ve read River Marked or any of Mercy Thompson series novels, we’d love to get your comments on them or on Patricia Briggs. We’d also love to hear your comments about this review.
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