I have just read books 4 and 5 in the Mercy Thompson series, Bone Crossed and Silver Borne. I had read the first three, Moon Called, Blood Bound and Iron Kissed, some while back, before my last trip to India, but the fact that I actually read all three, and still remembered Mercy and the story-line, was enough to make me pull out my money when I saw these two on a shelf in a shop in Colchester where I was browsing.
Sometimes sequels can be a disappointment when series go on and on, especially when you come back to the series after a long break. Perhaps it's not the series or the writer at all, perhaps it is you, the reader, who has changed, grown up, or simply grown older, as seems to happen so often with first marriages.
But not these two. (The boks now, not some married couple.) Mercy Thompson is still my favourite modern urban-fantasy shape-shifter. When she shape-shifts, she does not do so properly dressed.
'Could you unlock my door?' His voice was soft and gentle. The sort of voice you'd use on a madwoman.
I looked down at myself and realized that I was naked and covered with blood from head to toe.
And bizarrely, she doesn't change into a wolf or a bear, or a lynx or a wildcat, but into a coyote. Like a wild dog – a prairie dog. But she is the only one, or at least the only one she knows of, so for want of anything better she mixes with werewolves, vampires and the fae.
Her day-job is car-mechanic, and she lives in a trailer, sharing it with an alpha werewolf called Sam, who also happens to be a doctor. Though Sam is obviously in love with her, their living arrangement is entirely platonic: her mate, her true love, is another alpha werewolf, Adam, the leader of the local pack.
It seems that the reason Mercy's race, the coyote shape-shifters, a native-American breed, is virtually extinct is that they have a special talent for killing vampires: when the vampires arriving in America from the Old World discovered this, they set out on a war of extermination. Now, as I say, only Mercy is left, and when Masilia, the queen of the local vampire seethe (I love these words) discovers Mercy's true identity, she is, as they say, dead meat, unless the werewolves can protect her. But Mercy doesn't take kindly to being surrounded by large werewolf bodyguards at all hours.
Then, in a strange twist, Masilia decides to employ Mercy's talent to hunt down and destroy a renegade vampire who is possessed by a demon. Mercy agrees to this, but while carrying out her commission falls victim to rape, and ends up killing another vampire, one Masilia valued.
Now the hunt for her is really on. And her only friends are the werewolves (some of them – many feel she is not suitable to be their leader's mate), one elderly fae, and one vampire, another outcast from the seethe who (in the earlier books) has built up a very special relationship with Mercy.
In Silver Borne, the fae are searching for a mysterious tome, an ancient anthology of fae secrets and spells, which the owner of a second-hand bookshop once entrusted to Mercy, asking her to keep it safe for him.
Now he has disappeared. And the fae are after her. And an old college friend of hers begs her to come and see what is happening to her young son, who claims he is being persecuted by ghosts. Yes, ghosts. Coyote shape-shifters can see ghosts, can talk to them.
Ghosts are the remnants of people who have died, what's left after the soul goes on. They are mostly collections of memories given form. If they can interact, respond to outside stimuli, they tend to be fragments of the people they had been: obsessive fragments – like the ghosts of dogs who guard their masters' old graves or the ghost I'd once seen who was looking for her puppy.
Immediately after they die, though, sometimes they are different. I've seen it a couple of times at funerals, or in the house of someone who's just passed away. Sometimes the newly dead keep watch over the living, as if to make sure that all is well with them. Those are more than remnants of the people they'd been – I can see the difference. I've always thought those are their souls.
Which is exactly what I think.
Now I'm going to get the next one, River Marked ...