Book Review: Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs
A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Book 9 of Mercy Thompson
Publisher: Ace (March 8, 2016)
Length: 352 pages
Fire Touched is another strong entry into the Mercy Thompson series, and even though it might not be my favorite book or even in my top three, the significance of this volume cannot be overlooked because it contains a lot of important moments and turning points.
For one thing, the pack has grown again. Mercy may have stirred things up after becoming the mate of Adam, alpha of the Columbia Basin werewolves, but after the events of the last book Night Broken the pack has welcomed yet another non-wolfy member in the form of Joel the tibicena. Mercy, who has already taken a lot of heat (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun!) for her role in making that happen, is once more the target of the pack’s ire in Fire Touched when she extends their protection to a fae-altered child in the aftermath of a troll attack on the city. But while this decision has made some of the pack unhappy, worse yet is the concern that Mercy’s actions may have unwittingly sparked an all-out war between humankind, werewolves and the fae.
Now the Tri-Cities area has become a battleground for fae politics, forcing Bran the Marrok to cut ties with the Columbia Basin pack. However, Adam and his werewolves are standing firm on their promise to defend their territory and protect Aiden, the fire-touched child whom the Grey Lords want to get their hands on. But in the face of constant attacks on the pack and their friends, just how long will they be able to hold out?
There were so many great moments in this book. First of all, Adam probably deserves a husband-of-the-year medal for finally putting his foot down on the nasty pack energy directed at Mercy, and I think even Briggs realizes this pack grudge against the protagonist has gone on for far too long. (I was never too keen on the pack power structure in this series, but I have to admit sometimes a werewolf dictatorship has its uses.) Second, I loved the cameo by the unique vampire Thomas Hao, who has appeared in the author’s other stories before, including Frost Burned where I first met the character. There was also the epic battle on the bridge between the werewolves and the troll, which kicked off this novel with an action-packed scene. The story also culminated into a tense climax and interesting resolution.
That said, I also felt that the pacing of this installment was very inconsistent and not very balanced. Fire Touched is the perfect example of the “sandwich effect”, with an explosive introduction and a stunning conclusion, but everything in between felt comparatively low key and uneventful. I mentioned fae politics, and there a lot of it in here, punctuated with a few scenes of wanton property destruction. Major changes to the future of the Columbia Basin pack notwithstanding, I also felt that little progress was made in the overall series story arc. We’re definitely moving in the right direction, but this novel still has that “filler” vibe to it, and the uneven pacing makes this one feel relatively more subdued compared to some of the previous books.
In spite of its weaker aspects though, I thought Fire Touched was a good book. It might not be the best of the series, but it’s enjoyable and entertaining, which is what matters. I love this series, and I’m especially liking the positive effects that Mercy has been having on the pack, even if not all of them are ready to embrace the changes. She and Adam are as sweet as always, and while I’d like to see Mercy’s role as Coyote’s daughter explored further (it occurred to me that she doesn’t shapeshift into a coyote even once in this novel), I’m okay with seeing her consolidate her place and her power within the pack hierarchy. Now that headway has been made on the storyline with the fae, I’m hoping the series will pick up the momentum that this book has started and run with it in the next installment. Looking forward to seeing what comes next.