Wednesday, March 17, 2021

TBR Challenge: Patricia Briggs - Smoke Bitten

I am Mercedes Athena Thompson Hauptman.
My only "superpowers" are that I turn into a thirty-five pound coyote and fix Volkswagens. But I have friends in odd places and a pack of werewolves at my back. It looks like I'm going to need them.
Centuries ago, the fae dwelt in Underhill--until she locked her doors against them. They left behind their great castles and troves of magical artifacts. They abandoned their prisoners and their pets. Without the fae to mind them, those creatures who remained behind roamed freely through Underhill wreaking havoc. Only the deadliest survived.
Now one of those prisoners has escaped. It can look like anyone, any creature it chooses. But if it bites you, it controls you. It lives for chaos and destruction. It can make you do anything--even kill the person you love the most. Now it is here, in the Tri-Cities. In my territory.
It won't, can't, remain.
Not if I have anything to say about it.

Comment: Before one even notices that, another month is gone. I can't say if it feels as if time passes by quicker when one has nothing to do or when one has too much to do but either way, it's time for another TBR Challenge post and the theme for march is Favorite Author. I wouldn't go as far as to say who has to be my favorite author, although for many years I would have chosen a name without much thought. Nowadays, I'm more picky, so I'll go with ONE OF the favorite authors I currently auto buy.

I've chosen this 12th installment in the Mercy Thompson series simply because it was the last one to come out which I haven't read yet. I've discovered that, these days, even for favorite authors, I have plenty to occupy my time and I can (usually) patiently wait for a paperback edition, which is the one I read.

In this new "episode" of the adventures of Mercy Thompson and her family/pack/friends, things seem to be a little off , both with her relationship with Adam and when she feels something weird after a jackrabbit crosses her path. It turns out her instinct was right and a jackrabbit bits one of her neighbors, which means a being from Underhill, as Mercy finds out, is now able to take the form of anyone he bites and the control of that person, as she sadly discovers when the ghost of her neighbor's wife appears to Mercy and tells her some information. It is true she now has a door to Underhill, that whimsically dangerous realm in Faerie, in her backyard but it's better to keep the enemies closer after all and Mercy also wants to protect Aiden from being called back to Underhill... but is there any connection between these things and how it affects her relationship with Adam?

I think, by now, something should be quite clear about this series: the plot of each book might make sense for the duration of the book but it's so much more gratifying and rewarding tho have read things in order. There are so many references and hints about past events that even faithful fans could wonder about (no solution for time between book's releases unless you're fae and control the author!), much less someone falling into this world at book #12.

I would say this cannot be a stand alone story, a good part of the conflicts is related to the previous book and there are other references to books even further back in the series. For me, this is like gold on paper because I do love complex, fulfilling family bonds developing with time, I love this sense Mercy and Adam and the other members of the pack and some friends have this rich and complex relationship... I think the stories could be awesome based only on pack dynamics! However, the mysteries/magical problems Mercy often has to deal with allow for more insight into her personality and of those around her, so another win.

I suppose some readers might feel it has become tiresome how the books seem to be structured the same way, but I have so much fun just getting to spend time with them, I think I can put aside some of the details I can wish were better done or done in a way I'd like more. What has become a little repetitive by now is how Mercy still isn't liked by every pack member after all she has done. In this book, one pack member says something which, to me at least, makes sense on why that might be but... again, I can't understand why they just won't take the wonderful part of this: Mercy cares and would be a friend to anyone who would want to be her friend too.

I think it's very hard to do something that would feel perfect to everyone at the same time. This to say there were some elements here and there I'd change but it's also complicated to really express conveniently how something doesn't work for you without sounding whiny and inconsiderate. This book wasn't perfect to me because on the (unfair!) other side of enjoying spending time with friends as I feel with this world, there's the notion some things just drag and just don't seem to ever get any closer to a definite resolution...the enemies will never cease to come, to case havoc and worry...

I won't write about the plot and the villain who came from Underhill, but let it be said I was not expecting things to go the direction they did. What a creepy real enemy, is what I can say. As for how the villain affects the main characters, I felt this was another transition book, meaning, it's a bridge between stronger plot twists perhaps? It just felt like the big picture in which this whole thing was set upon has yet to reach the peak and that leaves me worried for the characters and their future.

When the book starts, we are told Mercy and Adam have had some issues and this is also addressed during the book. I think it was an understandable situation actually but the paranormal features gives it a whole new sense. Still, rest assured, they are as strong as ever by the end of the novel and if there's one thing this series can be counted on is by how supportive they are of one another, how in love they remain and how much in sync they seem to be. It's good to know they still have little things to discover about one another, even among the whole fighting enemies and problems and stuff.

I liked this novel as a whole, it was wonderful, like I said, to simply spend time with the characters, immersed in their world, see a few more moments of their lives...

Grade: 8/10

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