I always come to a new Mercy Thompson novel with excitement, anticipation, and confidence that the story will be worth the time. Patricia Briggs never disappoints, and Night Broken is not an exception. It's a great read. As a resident of the area where the books are set, I have to say how much fun I find them to be and how I almost want to believe that these characters and creatures live and work alongside me!
We find Mercy still not fully accepted by Adam's pack and still emotionally and psychologically wounded from her assault a few books ago. She is strong, as always, but there's an underlying vulnerability that makes her more relatable and human. I just love what Briggs is doing with this character; she's gone from a lone-wolf coyote and mechanic to a lover, wife, stepmother, pack member, business owner, and more.
In addition to her problems with the pack, Mercy is now called upon to play hostess to Adam's former wife (unlike Mercy, she had never been his mate) who has decided she wants her home, her daughter, and her ex back, and she will manipulate, mislead, misrepresent, and cry big, fat crocodile tears to get those things. Christy, the ex, is being stalked by a boyfriend who turns out to be a whole lot more than the wealthy, attractive, European playboy he presents as. Not realizing this, Christy runs to Adam for protection and brings a whole lot of trouble with her. We've all got a Christy or two in our lives, and this character is annoying and infuriating because she's just so real.
Mercy is also contending with the members of Adam's pack, many of whom don't think a coyote shifter, or any non-were, belongs in the position of Alpha's mate. But Mercy is more than willing to simply be who she is, do what she does, and let the rest of them kiss her ass. Because as Adam's mate, they may dislike or resent her, but she outranks them all and they know it. It's an untenable truce, but unless she's willing to either give up her marriage or kowtow to the others in the pack (particularly the women) there's no alternative. Mercy's not willing to do either thing, so she just keeps on keeping on.
There is violence, of course, and it is, as always, gross, gruesome, and splashy, which is how it should be. A werewolf, or a fae, or even a god, doesn't roast his food on a spit and eat with a knife and fork. To take out the blood and bone from the fight scenes would be to render them not only sanitized, but boring. The Mercy-verse is a very realistic one and Briggs is keeping it that way.
Mercy grows, as always. This is one of the things that I love about Briggs's writing; she is absolutely willing to put her characters through some changes. Even Adam has to learn a few things, which is not easy for a big, bad, growly alpha werewolf.
Besides all the stuff she's got going on with the pack and Christy, Mercy also must find her erstwhile father, Coyote, and get him to return to her a fae-made, and magical, walking stick she'd had with her in the last few books. The son of the fae who made the thing wants it back and is making threats against all of the Tri-Cities to get it. While searching for Coyote, Mercy meets her "sort of" brother and learns a bit about herself and the supernatural being who may or may not be her father. It's an interesting side story and I enjoyed it. Again, it's all about making Mercy into something more than she was on page one, and it works.
Things happen, Christy insinuates herself into the pack and causes trouble, creatures and beings come and go and we finally end up with a climactic battle that results in all kinds of things. Like what? You'll have to read the book; I don't give spoilers. Ever.
I wish Adam had stood up Christy more, or that Jesse would, and I wish that he would simply tell the members of the pack to accept her or move on, but that's not his way so we will likely have to suffer through more Mercy-bullying in future books. It will be interesting, over time, to see how she finally gains acceptance from the pack. I understand that the next installment in the Mercy Thompson series is over a year away, possibly almost two, and that makes me sad, but there are so many other stories Briggs has to tell besides Mercy's. Since I hope this series goes on for at least 20 books, I'll let her take the occasional break.
Overall, this is a great book, as always, and fully deserving of each star I gave it. Be sure you can sit down and read it cover-to-cover when you get it, too, since you'll find you resent having to put it down for things like work, dinner, showering...
There have been complaints about the ending of this book. That it's somehow disconnected or pointless or senseless. I want to disagree. I thought that this ending made sense and, in fact, it's what I'd hoped for. I think this ending made great sense and held promise for the next book. Or three. As low key as it is, it's darned near a cliff-hanger! I loved it.