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‘River Marked’ strong addition to Mercy Thompson series

Blackfeet. Or Blackfoot.

Mercy Thompson isn’t sure. All she knows about her Native American father is what little her mother shared. Her heritage has always been something of a mystery, but it takes center stage in "River Marked," Patricia Briggs’ sixth novel about the Volkswagen mechanic with a history degree who also happens to be a coyote shapeshifter. Mercy, one of the most original, compelling heroines in serial urban fantasy, finally finds out what and who she is as she battles an ancient evil that’s been reawakened in the murky depths of the Columbia River.

The story begins as Mercy, who isn’t afraid of much, quails at the elaborate plans her mother has hatched for her wedding to Alpha werewolf Adam Hauptman. Under threat of a live release of butterflies and balloons, Mercy’s nerve breaks and she tries to elope. But the coyote girl has nothing on her mother, who springs a surprise wedding on the couple, complete with an appearance from Bran, the werewolf Marrock who saw to Mercy’s upbringing after it became apparent she was a shapeshifter.

Readers who follow Mercy know she lives in a complex world where the Fae live on a reservation outside the Tri-Cities and werewolves are the latest paranormal creatures to have come out of the closet. Vampires, too, exist, but not to the general knowledge of the public. Chance, friendship and her own loyalties have embroiled Mercy in the troubles of all those groups at one time or another.

This time, it’s her ties to the Fae and her own patrimony that place her in the wilds around the Columbia River on her honeymoon with Adam. A Fae prophecy sees her as a crucial player in a brewing battle with a monstrous force, and she’ll need all the power of her Native American gifts to survive. In the end, it’s her father who shows her the way and Adam who draws the coyote walker home.

Briggs demonstrates her command of dialogue and her broad creative streak in "River Marked," a strong addition to a series that’s clearly one of the best of its genre.

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