Storm Cursed is the eleventh book in the Mercy Thompson series and can only be read as part of the saga. Too much character and world building take place in earlier novels for this story to make sense to anyone who hasn’t read those tales. You have to really like a series to read that far into it, along with the adjacent narratives (Alpha & Omega) that make up the Mercyverse and their various short stories. I have read everything, which makes this a review by a fan for other fans. My grade reflects that.
This review will contain spoilers for the books that came before it, as well as a tiny bit of information about a new crossover taking place between the Mercy Thompson series and the Alpha & Omega books.
Ever since Mercy proclaimed the Tri-Cities under the protection of the pack, the werewolves have been called upon by the area’s denizens to handle all sorts of strange supernatural problems. Today’s difficulty is a bit out of the ordinary but still typical enough not to raise too many concerns: a goblin has moved into a local barn and of course the farmer wants it gone. Backed by two trusty lieutenants, fan favorites Mary Jo and Ben, and with a large assist from Goblin King Larry, Mercy is able to roust the annoying, murderous creature from its hidey-hole and advise the barn owner the area has been cleared. There’s more going on here but I’ll leave the reader to discover that for themselves.
Just as she’s finishing tidying up that case Mercy receives another call: the Benton County Sheriff’s office is having trouble dealing with a marauding pack of miniature zombie goats. Mary Jo and Mercy head out to deal with this problem and discover it’s hiding a way bigger difficulty. A nasty band of witches have decided to come to town, bringing their cruel and appalling practice of black magic with them. They expect the pack to just let them take over, which shows just how little they understand about Mercy and her mate Adam.
Fans of the series will remember that an important group of witches played a role in the last Alpha & Omega novel, Burn Bright. In this one, we learn a lot more about that coven and watch Mercy, Adam and the Columbia Basin Pack tangle with this new enemy. We also take a joyous – not! – walk through ongoing political struggles between the U.S. Government and the Gray Lords, and discover a new talent Mercy has been waiting for just the right moment to use.
This story will make fans happy. We get to see our heroes kick paranormal butt, we hang out with old friends like Stefan, Sherwood, Zee, Tad, and Uncle Mike and old frenemies like Wulfe. We’ve got a nasty new enemy to hate and we find out about a new (to this series) mythical creature. Briggs’ world building is phenomenal and the universe she has created totally riveting. As always, I enjoyed the time I spent there.
The full conundrum the wolves and their allies have to deal with is intriguing and engrossing. I was completely engaged by what was happening and absorbed by trying to figure out just how a resolution would be reached. Naturally, I was equally invested in figuring out how various ongoing threads in the Mercyverse were progressing. It was all thoroughly engaging and I ripped through the book in a day.
Which means that the only reason this novel hasn’t received a higher grade is a problem that has cropped up in the last few books. They aren’t DIK novels. Don’t get me wrong, they are good stories and frankly, they are wonderful series books. Ms. Briggs has spent thirteen years creating an exceptional paranormal realm and peopling it with awesome characters and fascinating creatures. However, if Storm Cursed had been the first book in the series rather than the eleventh, I would have been far less impressed than I was by my initial encounter with the Mercyverse. These newer narratives just aren’t quite as compelling as the earlier works. That they are as terrific as they are is a testament to the author’s amazing talent but I just don’t feel the last few have been DIK quality. And again, this far into a series, I am not expecting that and am deeply thankful that they are as great and as much fun as they have been.
Additionally, Mercy is becoming too much of a Mary Sue. There is no challenge she and her friends can’t rise to, no enemy too great for them to defeat. The discovery of a new talent of Mercy’s is just one of the recent deus ex machina devices the author has resorted to in order to remind us how awesome our heroine is. I don’t need a character to be Wonder Woman for me to love her and I wish we were seeing more growth in other aspects of Mercy’s personality rather than just her awesome fighting capabilities and magical talents.
Storm Cursed is a must read for its intended audience, and will be a page-turning pleasure for fans. As stated before, it is definitely not the place to begin if you aren’t familiar with the series – that would be book one, the outstanding Moon Called – but I promise by the time you work your way through the excellent beginning novels and get to this one, you will be quite delighted with Storm Cursed.
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