Mercy Thompson fans will want this book for two main reasons:
- Damn, that is one mighty fine cover.
- Short stories in Mercyverse including stories that haven’t been put in anthologies yet whaaaaat??!@!!omg111!!!!
A little disclaimer: This has only been my second exposure to the Mercy Thompson universe, and previous to this, the only actual novel of this universe that I’d read was Moon Called. But while I am still just starting my journey on the Patricia Briggs bandwagon, I will say now that I thought the anthology was superb.
I read all 400 pages of Shifting Shadows and enjoyed each story. Wait, what’s that, you say? “But there are over 460 pages’ worth of stories in Shifting Shadows!” Yes, I am aware of that. While I was open to some spoilery things in later books, I drew the line somewhere. It’s a really thin line, but I intend to go back to these stories once I’ve read more of the actual series, so there’s that.
by Patricia Briggs
Ace Hardcover, September 2014
Shifting Shadows is a collection of 10 short stories and 2 “outtakes” revolving around the urban fantasy world of Mercy Thompson. In the collection, readers will find several stories of secondary characters that show up within the Mercy Thompson and Alpha & Omega series (in various books), as well as stories about well-loved recurring characters. You even get one short story with Mercy herself (“Hollow”). It’s really easy to talk endlessly about each short story that I’ve read, and goodness knows I took copious notes while I read them (which were mostly for my benefit). In any case, to save you from what is already going to be an overlong writeup: you can check out what Briggs has to say about the contents of Shifting Shadows here.
My Thoughts (mostly spoiler-free to a degree)
Since all of the stories are relatively new to me, I’m just going to go ahead and mention them in the order they appear in the book.
“Silver” is meant to be a romantic tragedy and an origin story of Samuel and Bran, though mostly of Samuel, as well as Samuel and Ariana. I swear there were onions hidden in the pages, because I might have teared a bit reading the short. If I didn’t already adore Bran and Sam when I read of them in Moon Called, this story would have clinched their characters for me. Also, Bran is frelling badass.
“Fairy Gifts” is a Montana-based story about a vampire returning to his hometown after receiving a plea from a fae. It was short and sweet, though it was a little more difficult to empathize with the character, since I’m not particularly keen on Mercyverse vampires as of yet.
“Gray” is another vampire story, this time taking place in Chicago, where Elyna returns to her husband’s home. This one I liked better than “Fairy Gifts,” but I think that’s a mixture of the fact that there’s a female vampire who kicks ass and the presence of a ghost watching her back. Kind of romantic, I think.
“Seeing Eye” is fantastic. After the introduction of Elizaveta Arkadyevna in Moon Called, I’ve been curious as to the inner workings of the witches in Mercyverse. Getting to read about a blind white witch was cool, but putting a werewolf in there as well was even better. Talk about a blind woman with her guide dog–or, in this case, wolf.
“Alpha and Omega” is certainly the start of what I think will be a beautiful series–and in conjunction, a beautiful series relationship. This was a story where I sat back and thought: “Dammit, this is another Briggs series I have to pick up, isn’t it?” I can see why it could easily be a favorite short story among fans, because it was one of mine in this collection. Also, apparently Briggs describes the Anna/Charles relationship as “sweet”, not “steamy.” Um. I’m not sure I agree. This short story was plenty steamy to me.
“The Star of David” is a cute Christmas short story about reuniting with loved ones. David Christiansen was talked of and eventually became kind of important in Moon Called, so a short story with him during the events after with his estranged daughter was nice.
“Roses in Winter” is not particularly endearing for me, because I’ve yet to read about any of the characters in the short besides Bran and Charles. Asil’s role as an old wolf waiting to die is interesting, though, and I’m thinking Kara’s got one hell of a sad, sad backstory.
“In Red, With Pearls” features my favorite gay werewolf! Okay, probably the only gay werewolf in the series, but I don’t care. Warren’s awesome, and so’s his main squeeze. This short plays out as a mini-detective story, and includes zombies and witches. Yeah.
“Redemption” features Ben, who plays a slight role in Moon Called. I admit I haven’t warmed up to Ben just yet, though this particular short story did leave me quite amused.
“Hollow” is Mercy-related, and the two outtakes happen to be Sam and Adam’s points of view (which, IMO, is AWESOME), respectively. Again, I will have to read them at a later time, because they occur way too far into the series and I do have some sort of spoiler-line that I don’t want to cross.
Mercyverse Reading Guide
At this juncture, I would say: “Go get this collection when it comes out!” as well as: “Go read the Mercy Thompson series!” But don’t do what I did and read one book and then start on the short stories unless you are bracing yourself for a few spoilers (and trust me, you will get them). Some of the stories take place before/during/a little after Moon Called, but a number of them do not. In fact, some of the characters in the collection don’t even show up until later books. So below, I’ve included a guide into optimizing your reading of the Mercyverse.
Chronological Order (edited 2019)
- “Silver” (Shifting Shadows)
- Homecoming (Mercy Thompson Graphic Novel)
- “Gray” (Shifting Shadows)
- “Fairy Gifts” (Shifting Shadows)
- “Seeing Eye” (Shifting Shadows)
- Moon Called (Mercy Thompson, #1)
- “Alpha and Omega” (Shifting Shadows)
- Cry Wolf (Alpha & Omega, #1)
- Hunting Ground (Alpha & Omega, #2)
- “The Star of David” (Shifting Shadows)
- Blood Bound (Mercy Thompson, #2)
- Iron Kissed (Mercy Thompson, #3)
- Bone Crossed (Mercy Thompson, #4)
- “Roses in Winter” (Shifting Shadows)
- Silver Borne (Mercy Thompson, #5)
- “Outtake – Sam” (Shifting Shadows)
- “In Red, With Pearls” (Shifting Shadows)
- River Marked (Mercy Thompson, #6)
- Fair Game (Alpha & Omega, #3)
- Frost Burned (Mercy Thompson, #7)
- “Redemption” (Shifting Shadows)
- Dead Heat (Alpha & Omega, #4)
- “Unappreciated Gifts” (A Fantastic Holiday Season anthology)
- Night Broken (Mercy Thompson, #8)
- “Outtake – Adam” (Shifting Shadows)
- “Hollow” (Shifting Shadows)
- Fire Touched (Mercy Thompson, #9)
- Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson, #10)
- Burn Bright (Alpha & Omega, #5)
- Storm Cursed (Mercy Thompson, #11)
- Smoke Bitten (Mercy Thompson, #12)
That being said, I don’t plan to read the Alpha & Omega series until I’ve at least finished 3-4 of the Mercy Thompson books, and some short stories I’d recommend reading before certain books. “Silver” can be read at any time, but it might be better to read it right before Silver Borne (which practically continues “Silver”). “Seeing Eye” occurs a year before Moon Called, but might be better read, context-wise, before or after Hunting Ground. It’s really dependent on whether you care about character familiarity over chronology, or vice versa. My general opinion is to at least start Moon Called before anything else to test out whether or not you like the Mercyverse to begin with. And I suppose one could skip out on the Alpha & Omega series altogether and still get the gist of the stories, but hey, got to cover the bases, right?
Some final notes:
- I really want a hardcover copy of Shifting Shadows.
- Mercy Thompson graphic novels? Swoon-faint-drool.
5 out of 5 Goodreads stars!