Fire Touched by Patricia BriggsFire Touched by Patricia Briggs (Mercy Thompson #9)

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Ace on March 8, 2016

Source: Publisher via NetGalley

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My thanks to Ace and NetGalley for providing me with a digital review copy. No compensation was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.

Tensions between the fae and humans are coming to a head. View Spoiler »

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Coyote shifter Mercy Thompson has faced some truly formidable foes in the past, ranging from vampires to fae assassins and even a god….not to mention Adam’s horrible ex-wife Christy. Somehow Mercy always survives, even if it’s just by the skin of her teeth. But the latest threat is one that Mercy alone cannot hope to beat alone: the Grey Lords, the elders of the fae community. The Grey Lords are tired of living as second-class citizens when they’re actually apex predators, and they’re finally ready to show the world just how powerful they can be. Mercy, Adam, and all their allies will need to work together if they want to stop a war…

Although I’ve enjoyed all the books in the Mercy Thompson series, I couldn’t help but feel that the last installment, NIGHT BROKEN, was something of a filler novel. Not a whole lot happened in that book generally, and even less occurred to drive the series’ plot arc forward. But Patricia Briggs is in fine form with FIRE TOUCHED, juggling characters both old and new with the increasingly complex inter-species politics that makes up the foundation of the series.

A new species or supernatural type is introduced in this volume: the titular fire touched human. All I can say about that character is that they’re incredibly dynamic and potentially a real game-changer for the Pack. It’s may be an embarrassingly bad pun to say that he’s got a fiery personality, but it couldn’t be a more appropriate description! As the ninth book in the series, FIRE TOUCHED has a lot to live up to and a less accomplished author might have struggled to make it seem fresh. But with the addition of new characters and the deeper examination of series favourites, the Mercy Thompson books are far from stale.

The relationship between Mercy and her husband Adam remains one of my favourites in UF. They don’t always agree and both can be fairly pig-headed, but they talk things out and actually confront their emotional issues rather than barreling through armed only with snark they way so many other couples do in this genre. I’ve never really understood why the Pack has such a problem with their relationship – sure, Mercy’s not a werewolf but she has proven her mettle and her love for Adam time and time again. In FIRE TOUCHED, Patricia Briggs finally addresses the resentment that so many Pack members have for Mercy; while it isn’t resolved completely, I’m happy to report that real progress is made and the lines are drawn in the sand. Hopefully this means we can move on to new sources of emotional conflict, since that one is pretty tired by this point.

Action-packed and with more than a few satisfying emotional payoffs, FIRE TOUCHED is Patricia Briggs at the top of her game.

Are you a fan of the Mercy Thompson series? What do you think authors can do to keep long-running series fresh? Inquiring minds want to know!