Slipping back into the world of Mercy Thompson comes so easily for me. I don’t struggle with a huge readjustment because everything feels so familiar and Patricia Briggs has such an easy style to enjoy. Tragically, this at times means that I am not as engrossed in the story as I expect to be, because it feels much like more of the same thing over again.
Frost Burned is the seventh novel in the MERCY THOMPSON series. Mercy has gone through a lot in past editions, so when she is caught up in a relatively mundane car accident I almost had to chuckle because it’s just her luck. The fact that she and her stepdaughter are not seriously injured in the crash is about par for the course, but when she starts to make calls back to her husband and his werewolf pack, things begin to fall apart.
In many ways, the continued evolution of this series, reflected in the attempted integration of werewolves and Fae beings mirrors some of the issues that we see in society today. I don’t know if this is deliberate or not, but it makes the fictional situations seem a little more real. There are real political and social ramifications when normal humans are harmed, and the heavy-handed, bureaucratic government agency known as Cantrip is a realistic, plausible reaction. Spinning off rogue agents from such an organization, and seeing different factions of the supernatural community try to covertly manipulate the government harm another faction — it all makes sense. That’s part of what has made this series so interesting.
After realizing that her husband and his pack have been kidnapped, Mercy, ever the creative Coyote, begins the hunt for the who, the what and the how to be able to save her mate. I like the fact that Mercy remains vulnerable, can’t just automatically win in a fight, and often has to call for help to cope with the issues she is facing. Sometimes the help she gets brings with it another set of problems, such as asking a Fae for help and having to take on a debt, or getting help from an unknown werewolf whose skills and motivations she can’t trust. Let’s face it: the help we want isn’t always what we expected.
Frost Burned was much like River Marked for me in that it was a good story, but some of the tension and typical romantic angst that is a core element of urban fantasy is missing. It feels like we are in the happily-ever-after phase for Mercy and her husband — well, as happily ever after as a shape-shifter can be. I don’t mind, and the new characters and increasing details about characters like Zee really add a lot of life into a series that could otherwise have become stale. Mercy’s growing up and the series is maturing into something different than a lot of urban fantasy… it’s not a romance novel anymore.