Book Review: Smoke Bitten by Patricia Briggs

Posted May 20, 2020 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Book Review:  Smoke Bitten by Patricia Briggs

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Smoke Bitten by Patricia Briggs
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Published by Ace Books on March 17, 2020
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
Source: the library

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Also by this author: Night Broken, Dead Heat, Bone Crossed, River Marked, Hunting Ground, Iron Kissed, Cry Wolf, Fire Touched, Moon Called, Silence Fallen, Burn Bright, Storm Cursed, Moon Called, , Wild Sign

Twelfth in the Mercy Thompson urban fantasy series and revolving around a VW mechanic and coyote shapeshifter and the wolf pack she runs with in Washington state.

My Take

Briggs is using first person protagonist point-of-view from Mercy’s perspective, so we are privy to all her thoughts and emotions. It’s particularly poignant in her dealings with Adam’s particular issue. And that was an offputting start! This sudden estrangement between Adam and Mercy came from out of left field, and it was frustrating that it took so long to find out the what and why of Adam’s upset.

“Because a relationship is a two-way street. It took both of us to let it get this bad.”

Then again, Mercy banged happy back into Adam, lol. Okay, so it took longer to bring Adam back, but I rather wished Briggs had stretched it into the next story, upping the tension. This was too easy.

I do like it that Mercy and Adam can re-make the house into their own space. Anything to pry out anything Christy had something to do with. Christy certainly does break people’s logic processing and her behavior does liven things up. Just consider how she manipulates so many of the pack members — especially with Auriele’s actions! Talk about RUDE. And felonious!

True, Jesse should have spoken to her parents about her plans, but I can understand her not wanting to deal with her mother. Christy’s reaction is the inciting incident that quickly slides into Tilly’s pissiness. I’m thinking Tilly has several ulterior motives in this, including better access to Aiden. But…what exactly does she want access to?? Aiden makes another interesting character, as the pack works to bring him into the twenty-first century.

It’s the deus ex machina at the end that ticks me off, though. Sure, I’m thrilled it’s back, but really?? How unrealistic is this?

I think Briggs is working up to Darryl leaving the pack. Or setting us up for something radically different than most packs do. Business as usual in the Columbia Basin, lol. Luckily for Adam, Darryl is an adrenaline junkie and since Mercy has made the Pack responsible for the safety of the area’s citizens, things are much more, ahem, exciting. Briggs is also building up to revealing Mercy’s true character. A good example of a slowly evolving character arc. Adam has his own character arc issues, which are at the heart of the estrangement between him and Mercy. And it ain’t gonna be fixed any time soon.

Mercy and Adam are shaking up werewolf expectations. Accepting gays and non-werewolves, women’s dominance being recognized, whatever is the world coming to? I like Adam’s theory that by paying attention to the real order of dominance, the pack is more stable.

I do like how Mercy and Adam have caused the humans (and government) in the Tri-Cities to see them as heroes. Even George considers Mercy a friend now! Which leads me to Wulfe…eek. He is the most complex character…and now Mercy’s theory that Wulfe…Wulfe??…is a white witch?!? Oh. Boy.

Omigod. Vampires in Underhill. Frosting. On. The. Cake. As for the vampire bunny’s identity? WTF? How ever does that fit in with the original fairy tale? Where did Mercy ever get the idea that this was the smoke weaver’s name? And why a rabbit?? As for Fiona. Jesus. She’s a real nightmare out for herself. Although that was too easy as well.

Ah-HAH! The truth comes out. All that chatter about the fae not being able to lie, that they can twist the truth on its head…? Yeah. They can lie, they just won’t like the consequences. More rules about the fae include, well, rules, the less power you have, the more rules there are that hedge a fae about.

Once you get past these inanities, the story reads fast enough and stays interesting. I gotta say, that Briggs has so many balls in the air in this. With luck, she’ll never run out of inspiration.

The Story

A rogue group of wolves intends to take over the Columbia Basin Pack. A vampire jackrabbit is biting people, controlling them, able to look like anyone. Worse, Tilly has created a door to Underhill in Mercy and Adam’s backyard.

And Christy is inflaming the pack against Mercy. Again.

The Characters

Mercy Thompson, a coyote shapeshifter who can see ghosts, is a VW mechanic whose garage has just reopened after events in Night Broken, 8. Adam Hauptman is her mate and husband as well as the alpha of the Columbia Basin Pack. Jesse is his daughter. Christy is his obnoxious ex-wife who manipulates everyone…but Mercy. Unfortunately, the Coyote avatar, Mercy’s father, manipulates Mercy. Medea is Mercy’s cat who loves anyone who’ll pet her, including werewolves and vampires.

Siebolt “Zee” Adelbertsmiter is an iron-kissed fae. He calls himself a gremlin. He sold the garage to Mercy and is her very good friend. A hide-the-bodies kind of friend. As is Tad, Zee’s son, half-fae, half-human, with his own heavy duty power.

The Columbia Basin Pack is…
…based in the Tri-Cities in Washington state. Adam’s second-in-command is Darryl Zao, a brilliant scientist, who’s mated to Auriele Zao, a chemistry teacher. The gay, book-loving Warren Smith is Adam’s third-in-command — although he is more dominant than Darryl. A cowboy who was turned in the nineteenth century, he works as a private detective for his boyfriend (and mate), Kyle, a divorce lawyer. More wolves include Ogden, who is a quiet contracts lawyer; Honey; Ben,who is the foul-mouthed Brit working in computer IT; the one-legged, magic-using Sherwood Post; Kelly; Elliot, who is big and dominant and works for Adam’s security company; Luke; George, who is a Pasco cop; Mary Jo,who is a firefighter dating Deputy Alexander “Renny” Renton of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office; Carlos, who is a capable “fixer”; the sharpshooting Libby; and, Zack.

Pirate is the kitten Sherwood rescued in Storm Cursed. Paul had died in Storm Cursed. Izzy is Jesse’s best friend. Hannah is Kelly’s human wife (with some fae ancestry, as evidenced by that homemade bourbon!); their kids include the seven-year-old Makaya, twelve-year-old Sean, ten-year-old Patrick, and their three-year-old. The hulking, scary Butch is Adam’s security company’s PR person. Gabriel had been Mercy’s right hand at the garage, living in the nice manufactured house that replaced Mercy’s old trailer, but now he’s gone off to school. He’d also been Jesse’s boyfriend. Anna and Dennis Cather are Mercy’s neighbors. Pat Henderson is a grumpy customer of Mercy’s garage.

Joel, the only other pack member who isn’t a werewolf, has three forms: human, presa Canario (a normal dog), and tibicena (volcano dog) after events in Night Broken. His wife, Lucia, does accounting for the pack and Mercy’s garage. Aiden isn’t pack (Fire Touched, 9), but he is a part of the Hauptman household. While he’s centuries-old after all that time in Underhill, he looks like he’s in third grade. To survive, Tilly gave him the power of fire.

Larry is the goblin king in the Tri-Cities and allied with the pack.

The Marrok is…
…both the name of a pack in Montana and Bran Cornick, the alpha of all alphas. He’s a power who has abjured the Columbia Basin Pack, even though he has a soft spot for Mercy. Charles Cornick is Bran’s younger son, and he’s at peace with his other half, Brother Wolf. Samuel Cornick is a doctor and Bran’s oldest son. He’s mated to Ariana, a silver fae (Silver Borne, 5), and they’re still in Africa. Leah is Bran’s wolf’s mate. Gerry Wallace created a catastrophe in Moon Called, 1. Bryan had been Mercy’s foster father.

Lincoln Thorson is second in a pack in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The Fae broke…
…from human society after events in Fair Game, Alpha & Omega 3, when the Gray Lords, very powerful rulers of the fae, ordered all the fae back to the reservations. They thought they’d retreat into Underhill, a.k.a., the capricious Tilly, but she’s still angry with them. The Walla Walla is the fae reservation nearest the Tri-Cities. Beauclaire, Lugh’s son, is a Gray Lord and friendly towards Mercy. Uncle Mike is a power and a friend of Zee’s; he runs Uncle Mike’s Tavern.

The smoke beast, a.k.a., smoke weaver, a transmogrifier, was imprisoned in Underhill and manifests as a demonic jackrabbit. Liv Mendoza shouldn’t have been hitchhiking.

The vampires
Marsilia “the Blade” is the mistress of the local seethe. Wulfe “the Wizard” was turned before he left his teens in the Renaissance and is one scary mofo — vampire, wizard, witch. He has a fascination with Mercy and her action in Storm Cursed, 11, has changed him. Bonarata is the vampire who rules Europe.

Stefan “the Soldier” is a vampire and Mercy’s friend who drives the Scooby van. He’s estranged from Marcella’s seethe.

The Police
Detective Willis has worked with Mercy before. Patton is an officer with the Pasco PD.

The Hardesty witches are…
…beyond evil and too many still exist in the world despite events in Storm Cursed.

Elizaveta had been the witch Adam contracted with to clean up messes (Storm Cursed).

Fiona had been a werewolf the Marrok used for those times even Charles couldn’t kill. She’s now mated to Sven Harolford, who is not a wolf any woman should ever be alone with. Chen Li Qang is a friend of Carlos’ with whom he served in Korea. Kent Schwabe moved to the pole-cat-mean Gartman‘s pack in Galveston, Texas. The four-hundred-plus-year-old Nonnie and even older James Palsic, a.k.a., John Leeman, who’s an engineer in Washington D.C. with some mad don’t-see-me ability, are a mated pair. Lincoln Stuart has his issues.

The Cover and Title

The cover is a range of royal blues and purples with a nebulous snake shape in the background. Mercy fills the front from the chest up, her head turned to the side, the better for us to see her signature feather earring and the fire-filled puncture marks on her left shoulder, her teal tank top falling off the shoulder so we can better see the holes as well as that elaborate tattoo that Mercy doesn’t actually have. Her dark hair is in one long braid along the back of her neck and draping over her opposite shoulder. At the very top is an info blurb in white with the author’s name immediately below it in an embossed metallic copper. The title is in a black-shadowed white just below her shoulders. The same colors are in the series information at the very bottom.

The title is the conflict, the Smoke Bitten and the havoc they wreak.

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