Storm Cursed: That old black magic

Storm Cursed by Patricia Briggs science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsStorm Cursed by Patricia Briggs science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsStorm Cursed by Patricia Briggs

Storm Cursed (2019), the eleventh book in Patricia BriggsMERCY THOMPSON urban fantasy series, kicks the series up a notch with some clashes with black magic witches, and no one is safe. Mercy, a coyote skinwalker and the shapechanger daughter of the god Coyote, is back in the Tri-Cities area of Washington state after her hair-raising adventures in Europe in Silence Fallen.

Storm Cursed begins with a seemingly tangential event: Mercy has tagged two of her husband Adam’s werewolf pack, firefighter Mary Jo and computer nerd Ben, to go on a goblin hunt with her, tracking down a goblin suspected of killing a policeman. She calls Larry, the goblin king who we met in Silence Fallen, to help. What this event discloses about Mercy’s evolving relationship with Mary Jo, and about a secret power held by goblins that is apparently unique among the fae, may have important repercussions in the future.

Indirectly this goblin hunt leads to a police request to help with a bunch of pygmy goats that someone has turned into zombies using witchcraft (interestingly, the pygmy goats are still adorable even though they’re dead and zombie-fied). When Mercy calls the witch family of Elizaveta Arkadyevna to help with the zombie goat problem, a strange woman with a soft Southern voice answers the phone and tells Mercy that Elizaveta’s family is “all tied up right now.” Not ominous at all! And then the family that owned the pygmy goats tell Mercy about a woman with a Southern accent who tried to buy the goats … and to get their young son to come to her car.

As Mercy and Adam investigate what has happened at Elizaveta’s house, and where the zombies are coming from, they find threats from both without and within their territory. Meanwhile, the Gray Lords of the fae are reengaging with humans, offering to meet with the U.S. government to negotiate a peace treaty, but the witch problem is threatening this process as well.

MERCY THOMPSON SeriesBlack magic makes for a compelling but harrowing plot in Storm Cursed. Black magic witches are the most powerful of all witches in this world; far more powerful than white or gray witches. Their willingness to torture and kill both animals and people gives them a far greater boost to their magical powers than white and gray witches can access. That willingness to commit appallingly evil acts for the sake of power is front and center in Storm Cursed, and Briggs doesn’t pull her punches. (Sensitive readers are advised to tread carefully.)

Offsetting this darkness is the moral bedrock and decency of the key characters. It’s not just in Mercy and Adam, but also in Zee, a powerful fae who is Mercy’s longtime friend, Zee’s son Tad, and several others. We finally learn more about the mysterious past of Sherwood Post, a werewolf with a missing leg (supposedly an impossibility, since werewolves regenerate). Wulfe, an extremely powerful but unbalanced vampire, gets a chance to shine in Storm Cursed, and there are new revelations about his character as well.

Briggs pulls in plot threads and character arcs from prior books and takes them in unexpected but logical directions with each new novel in the MERCY THOMPSON and the related ALPHA AND OMEGA series, which are so closely interwoven that it’s definitely best to read all of the books in both series in order. In Storm Cursed, Briggs once again surprised me with her willingness to shake things up. No character is safe (well, perhaps other than Mercy and Adam), no matter how long they’ve been a part of the series.

Storm Cursed was fascinating reading, even though it had several disturbing scenes. It kept me glued to my chair. Sixteen books into the world of Mercy Thompson (counting both series), Briggs is still writing excellent urban fantasy and finding ways to keep it fresh.

Published in May 2019. In this powerful entry in the #1 New York Times bestselling series, Mercy Thompson must face a deadly enemy to defend all she loves… My name is Mercedes Athena Thompson Hauptman, and I am a car mechanic. And a coyote shapeshifter. And the mate of the Alpha of the Columbia Basin werewolf pack. Even so, none of that would have gotten me into trouble if, a few months ago, I hadn’t stood upon a bridge and taken responsibility for the safety of the citizens who lived in our territory. It seemed like the thing to do at the time. It should have only involved hunting down killer goblins, zombie goats, and an occasional troll. Instead, our home was viewed as neutral ground, a place where humans would feel safe to come and treat with the fae. The reality is that nothing and no one is safe.  As generals and politicians face off with the Gray Lords of the fae, a storm is coming and her name is Death. But we are pack, and we have given our word. We will die to keep it.

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TADIANA JONES, on our staff since July 2015, is an intellectual property lawyer with a BA in English. She inherited her love of classic and hard SF from her father and her love of fantasy and fairy tales from her mother. She lives with her husband and four children in a small town near the mountains in Utah. Tadiana juggles her career, her family, and her love for reading, travel and art, only occasionally dropping balls. She likes complex and layered stories and characters with hidden depths. Favorite authors include Lois McMaster Bujold, Brandon Sanderson, Robin McKinley, Connie Willis, Isaac Asimov, Larry Niven, Megan Whalen Turner, Patricia McKillip, Mary Stewart, Ilona Andrews, and Susanna Clarke.

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One comment

  1. It’s nice to know there’s still some refreshing urban fantasy out there.

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