I am well aware that my bias towards this series is the main reason I continue to five-star any Mercy Thompson book, but many other things worked in this book’s favor. One: Two fairy tales were invoked which made me really happy. Two: Lots of sex. I’m not even joking.
by Patricia Briggs
Ace Books, March 2020
Urban Fantasy, Paranormal
Rated: 5 / 5 cookies
I am Mercedes Athena Thompson Hauptman.
My only “superpowers” are that I turn into a thirty-five pound coyote and fix Volkswagens. But I have friends in odd places and a pack of werewolves at my back. It looks like I’m going to need them.
Centuries ago, the fae dwelt in Underhill–until she locked her doors against them. They left behind their great castles and troves of magical artifacts. They abandoned their prisoners and their pets. Without the fae to mind them, those creatures who remained behind roamed freely through Underhill wreaking havoc. Only the deadliest survived.
Now one of those prisoners has escaped. It can look like anyone, any creature it chooses. But if it bites you, it controls you. It lives for chaos and destruction. It can make you do anything–even kill the person you love the most. Now it is here, in the Tri-Cities. In my territory.
It won’t, can’t, remain.
Not if I have anything to say about it.
Okay, so maybe I’m a little bit joking about the sex bit. Just a little.
Mostly, I liked that there’s a bit of a bump in Adam and Mercy’s relationship, and it took a lot more than coitus to fix it. But that’s the thing with their relationship; if there wasn’t any conflict, it’d get a little bland. And after the final events of Storm Cursed, there’s definitely something that Adam carries over from what happened to him in relation to the Hardesty witches–and thensome.
(Which, I will say now, I totally called the death curse. Totally.)
But onto this actual book.
Like every other Mercy Thompson book, the problems pile up. There’s a demon on the loose, with powers that mimic the lords of the fae. It can take the shape of anyone, and once bitten, that living creature is pretty much used as a puppet until his/her death. Kind of frightening and OP, but Mercy isn’t the type to shirk away from the Big Bad (I mean, she lives with a bunch of supernatural beings, for crying out loud).
If that was all, no problem, right? But there’s the aspect of dealing with the fallout from the fight with the Hardesty witches in addition to a powerful stalkery vampire, there’s a pack of wolves trespassing and vying to take over Adam’s pack, there’s the pack still questioning Mercy for some reason (which, honestly, annoys me to no end, considering how many books it’s been and some of these lunatics are still taking sides over Mercy vs. Christy). Oh, and there is the prospect that Underhill is quite maybe possibly preparing for war–against whom is the million-dollar question (my guess is the fae themselves, in which case, there’s going to be a LOT to look forward to later in the series).
And that. That’s the last straw, dammit.
I felt like this book was reeling from the magnitude of Storm Cursed, so a lot of the previous book’s plot was still in the background even as Smoke Bitten started taking its shape. Again, Storm Cursed was pretty heavy by the end of things, and I feel this is not the last time we’ll hear from the Hardesty witches. So in that respect, much of the problems carried over. And while Smoke Bitten has its own slew of problems–some intense, and others just your every-day drama with Christy (eff that woman, I swear…)–I didn’t get the feeling of anxiety that I got from the previous installment.
That doesn’t mean that the book wasn’t great. I still loved the story. There were definitely moments in the book where I had to text my friend yelling. Most of the time, I’m just gushing over conversations Mercy has with Bran. Because Bran is everything, and his advice ranges from well-meaning to Socratic to really ambiguous (though he’s not wrong).
The addition of Aiden in this book is lovely, too! I’m really looking forward to reading more about him, because his involvement with Underhill and the fae folk in general is intriguing at best. Also, I cannot wait to see how Mercy continues to deal with the Wulfe thing.
Identifying the origin of the smoke demon was one of the problems Mercy had to tackle, though with all the hints she was given, even I began to piece things together. It was interesting how Briggs brought actual fairy tales into the story, and being a lover of fae and fairy tales, I totally approve.
5 out of 5 cookies! All in all, another entertaining installment of the series. I’m already waiting impatiently for the book #13. Don’t even let me get started on the squeeing fest because an Alpha & Omega book is going to be released soon too!