4.5 stars, actually
(Standard warning here about reading this series in order. Do not start with this book. You will be lost)
Briggs is weaving together her Mercy Thompson and Alpha/Omega stories even tighter these days. I found myself having to google Burn Bright for a plot summary and search spoiler forums to find out if we knew who Sherwood Post was and how had an inner circle friend betrayed them.
This story picks up the Bran & Leah, Hardesty witches, and wildling threads with Anna and Charles being sent to scout out the rumors of a disappeared town coincidentally set up where Leah and Bran first met. Some unsavory revelations about Bran are uncovered in context with his treatment of Leah (whose rehabilitation, started in Burn Bright, is completed in this novel).
Anna and Charles take along Tag, one of the aforementioned old wolves forced to live with Bran or be put down, wildlings, who is a nice example of the ways Anna and her Omega powers have calmed the Marrock’s pack.
They discover an old, old power– not fae nor Charles’ witchborn– in the woods and have to deal with an attack on Anna that brings up her painful past and highlights how far she’s grown into her own powers.
Alot of this book is exactly what I love about Briggs and her ability to portray believable alpha couples. I love, love, love the little byplays between Anna and Charles, and how we get to see Charles and Brother Wolf handle their feelings for her. Lots of references to other characters that is fan service (Asil, Ben, Coyote, Mercy, etc.)
And there’s an awesome battle scene where the pack magic kind of takes a front seat almost as a character itself which was fun.
But….and this is where I lost a half-star, boy is it hard to keep track of all the characters, plot developments, and side jokes in these two series. And sometimes the inside jokes or vague dialogue or references seemed distracting rather than adding to the overall complexity of this series. But just sometimes.
Then, at the very end, as Briggs is fond of doing, after the big bad has been dealt with, the resulting tragedy endured, and relationships have been grown nicely…Briggs drops two bombshells on us. Leah’s growth means the main relationship between her and Bran has to change.
But there’s another final unrelated scene with Samuel Cornick (why does Briggs torture poor Samuel so much!) that is heartrending and definitely setting up later plot developments.
Gosh, I love this series. It’s one of only two urban fantasy series I’ve ever followed beyond 7 books. (14 books if you count Mercy Thompson and this as one series…which I kind of do)
So even a 4.5 star rating means its totally worth reading if you love urban fantasy…but only in proper order with Mercy Thompson.