Owing a favor to a vampire is pretty much always going to be asking for trouble. Stefan, a vampire who’s been a help and even a friend to Mercy Thompson, calls her at three a.m. to go witness his confrontation with a new vampire in town. But Stefan gives Mercy his word of honor that she won’t be hurt, and asks her to shapeshift into her coyote form to accompany him. The new vampire, Cory Littleton, has a rather mundane name, but his nature is anything commonplace: there is a demon inside of Littleton, and it’s not entirely clear whether the vampire is controlling the demon or is possessed by him. In any case, their meeting turns out to be fraught with danger and death, since Littleton possesses demonic-enhanced sorcerous powers that make him extremely dangerous to everyone in town, including vampires and werewolves as well as humans. As Mercy, Stefan and other vampires and werewolves combine to try to track down and kill or neutralize Littleton, it becomes apparent that there are some characters with a hidden agenda whose goals may not align with Mercy’s and humanity’s best interests.
Blood Bound, the second book in the MERCY THOMPSON series, is a strong urban fantasy and mystery that builds on the world Patricia Briggs created in Moon Called. It’s bursting at the seams with vampires and werewolves, with a few fae characters for additional flavor, as well as Mercy herself, who is a skinwalker and can turn into a coyote at will. Somehow Mercy, a hard-working, down-to-earth automobile mechanic, once again ends up in the middle of serious trouble, as the vampires and werewolves try to sort out the mystery involving Littleton, who’s leaving a trail of bodies behind him with a complete disregard for vampire rules.
The one failure for me in Blood Bound is its subplot involving the overused love triangle trope, as Mercy continues to waffle between two werewolves who are each determined to make her their mate. Worse, there are hints that this might be turning into what might be best described as a three-pronged love trident, since now there are actually three different paranormal males interested in Mercy.
Vampire society and culture take center stage in Blood Bound, as Mercy visits not only the main vampire compound but some of their personal dwellings, at great risk to herself. Briggs has created a detailed, layered world, with some intriguing twists on vampire characteristics and the standard mythology. The capabilities and shortcomings of Mercy and other supernatural beings, initially simply interesting facts, resurface later in the story and play a role in the development of the plot in a highly satisfying way. The plot and the underlying mystery in Blood Bound are a clear step above that in the first volume, Moon Called.
In Blood Bound, Mercy tries to pay off her debt to the vampires by helping them hunt a demon-possessed vampire.
My quick synopsis fails to do justice to the fast-paced, complex plotting in each book (and thought-out imagining of the structures and tendencies of
werewolf, vampire, and fae societies). Each is told from Mercy’s smart, no-nonsense perspective, and it’s to the author’s credit that, even though I usually like first-person narrators with above-average eloquence, I never tired of her voice. True, I have my quibbles (e.g. the first-person viewpoint is limited in its ability to present information, which is tough in novels that rely heavily on mystery; and also, there are a few long passages of deduction or conversation that seemed to go a bit too perfectly to get to the right outcome) — but overall, the writing is solid and keeps things moving. It’s also mostly free of sex and profanity (though with regard to the latter, there are a few too many instances of someone starting to curse and stopping short).
Although these books lack that superior element of style, enlightenment, or brilliant plotting that would warrant a fifth star, they’re solid modern fantasy/action/mystery entertainment.