When Moon Called, the first book in Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series, came out in 2006, I was in a paranormal reading slump. The triumvirate of Anita, Richard, and Jean Claude was no more, and our favorite mercenary Kate Daniels had yet to make her mark on a futuristic Atlanta. Imagine my surprise and delight then, when into this barren paranormal landscape struts Mercedes Thompson, a scrappy little coyote shapeshifter who can hold her own against the biggest and baddest werewolves. I was hooked immediately.
Fast forward a decade, and I am still hooked. Silence Fallen, the series’ tenth installment, is another fast-paced action-thriller that expands upon the universe Ms. Briggs has painstakingly built over the course of nine books. Due to some pacing and narrative issues, it is not the best book in the series but it is nevertheless an enjoyable read that will keep me coming back for more. Because Silence Fallen is part of a long-running series, this review contains spoilers for books 1-9. You have been warned.
Silence Fallen starts with a kidnapping. Mercedes Thompson Hauptman, daughter of Coyote (Navajo god of chaos) and wife of alpha werewolf Adam Hauptman, is on her way home from a convenience store when her SUV is hit by a semi-truck. The impact of the collision knocks her out cold; and when she regains consciousness, Mercy finds herself the unwilling guest of Iacopo Bonarata, leader of the European vampires and one-time lover of Marsilia, Mistress of the Tri-Cities seethe. Why Bonarata chose to kidnap her is not immediately made clear, but Mercy figures that’s a question she can ponder some other time. Shifting into her coyote form, Mercy escapes from her captor and hops into the luggage compartment of a bus. It isn’t until hours later, after the bus has stopped and Mercy finally has a chance to get her bearings that Mercy realizes she’s not in the Tri-Cities anymore. She is in Italy – alone, broke, and hunted by a powerful vampire.
Meanwhile, back home in the Tri-Cities, Adam is holding a council of war with Marsilia and Stefan. Bonarata has emailed Marsilia to claim responsibility for Mercy’s abduction. And based on clues gleaned through Bonarata’s communication, the group agrees that Bonarata’s actions are most likely motivated by the coalition the Tri-Cities supernatural powers seemingly formed during the events in Fire Touched, the previous book in the series. Therefore, Adam decides that the best course of action is for him to visit Milan with a party that is a fair representation of this so-called alliance – a party that includes werewolves, vampires, goblins, and even a witch. The purpose of their trip will be two-fold. One, to rescue Mercy. Two, to find out what Bonarata wants and, if necessary, broker an agreement that will prevent the bloodshed of dozens of non-human denizens from both sides of the pond.
This book started out a little slow for me. Unlike the previous books in the series, where we received only Mercy’s view point, the chapters in Silence Fallen alternate between Mercy’s and Adam’s points of view. While I liked that this method of storytelling allows us to get inside both of our protagonists’ heads, a lot of what we learn feels repetitive. In Fire Touched, we saw Adam struggle between his need to protect Mercy and trusting her to fight her own battles. In Silence Fallen, we see Adam face the same struggle when he must decide between rushing to his wife’s side or staying in Milan to finish his negotiation with Bonarata. In between Adam thinking about how worried he is for Mercy and Mercy missing Adam, there are endless discussions about why Mercy is the most powerful person in the Tri-Cities, and numerous conversations about why Bonarata kidnapped her. Try as I might, I just couldn’t quite shake off this “been there, done that” feeling during the first half of the book.
Once I got past the slow beginning, however, the plot unfolds at breakneck speed in two separate threads. In Prague, Mercy seeks sanctuary with Libor, the alpha werewolf of the Vltava pack, and runs afoul of a golem and a new breed of scary monster. In Milan, Adam and his entourage try to navigate through the intricate minefield of interspecies politics and become enmeshed in a coup against Bonarata. There are twists and turns aplenty to keep the reader engrossed. And of course, this being a Mercy Thompson novel, the two threads and other subplots introduced throughout the story all come together nicely at the end to form a rousing conclusion.
Overall, Silence Fallen proved to be a mixed bag. I enjoyed the action, but found the character- driven moments to be a rehashing of ground we have covered before. On the plus side, by setting the book in Europe, the author is able to introduce a whole new group of interesting secondary characters. An alpha werewolf that owns a bakery? A ruthless master vampire with a weakness for female werewolves? Other than Bonarata, we aren’t given a lot of information on these characters. But they can all potentially be drawn upon to expand the “mercyverse” even more. And for that tantalizing possibility alone, I will remain a loyal fan of the series and be the first in line to purchase the next book, whenever it should happen to come out.