Prancing in Prague || Silence Fallen Review

Initial Thoughts: 

I mean…I reread Mercy Thompson stories so often, particularly little snippets, but holy hell, this one was definitely something I would reread again DIRECTLY AFTER I just finished it. So. Damn. Good. And omg. SO MUCH ADAM AND MERCY POV.

Sigh. When can I expect the next book?


SILENCE FALLEN

by Patricia Briggs
Ace Books, March 2017
Urban fantasy, adult
Rated: 5 / 5 cookies

Attacked and abducted in her home territory, Mercy finds herself in the clutches of the most powerful vampire in the world, taken as a weapon to use against alpha werewolf Adam and the ruler of the Tri-Cities vampires. In coyote form, Mercy escapes only to find herself without money, without clothing, and alone in the heart of Europe…

Unable to contact Adam and the rest of the pack, Mercy has allies to find and enemies to fight, and she needs to figure out which is which. Ancient powers stir, and Mercy must be her agile best to avoid causing a war between vampires and werewolves, and between werewolves and werewolves. And in the heart of the ancient city of Prague, old ghosts rise…

*As this is book #10 of the Mercy Thompson series, expect spoilers.*

You know, I read the title of the book when it was first released to the public and I did think briefly: “Hah, like the Silence in Doctor Who? Is this a play of words based off that? ‘Cause that would be awesome!”

And, you know, a lot of DW references do come up in the book, and the whole Matt Smith reveal thing was just…I cannot with Briggs sometimes.

“Silence will fall!”

So normally I wouldn’t be reviewing a book that’s part of a super-long series. Normally this would have just been another mini-review with slight squee-recaps of what I absolutely enjoyed of the Mercy Thompson book. And, ya know, so far, I’ve been loving this series more and more after every installment.

So what makes Silence Fallen any different?

Prague, for one. I must have gushed about the fact that I love, love, love Prague. It was just such a quaint little city, and I was blessed to have been able to visit it for a couple days when I was on vacation a while back. (I even wrote about it in terms of visiting it through the eyes of Karou!) So when I caught wind that the next Mercy Thompson book was going to send Mercy over to Prague as the next destination, I was over the moon with excitement. And once I opened the book and saw the map of the places I traversed, I was done for. The setting was already one thing I was going to love about this book.

Dual POVs. One of the things I had extremely enjoyed from Frost Burned was Adam’s point of view. I know, I know, it’s a Mercy Thompson novel, and Mercy narrates the story in first person. However, I thought adding Adam into Frost Burned was rather brilliant, and I loved seeing his side of the story just as much as I loved seeing Mercy’s. But while Mercy largely dominated the narration in FB–and still does for the most part–the narration in Silence Fallen was a healthy dose of Mercy and Adam. Honestly, I’ve shipped them since book 1. But egads, they truly are mated, considering both of them have death wishes looming over their horizon. I also sort of giggled at the end of the book, because I swear I saw their reunion more along the lines of:

“Honey, I’m home! Guess what? I obliterated a powerful vampire. With plates. What did you do today?”

“I laid siege to a city while I was stuck naked in a cage.”

“That’s my mate! I love you.”

“I love you!”

*hugs*

Okay, so that’s rather simplified, but if they were a normal couple, they would totally be discussing their exploits over the drone of the TV while they’re sharing a plate of chocolate chip cookies. Hell, I’m pretty sure that is exactly what they did when they got back to their house. Only they’re not so normal, being a werewolf and a coyote. Um.

There was also one other thing I enjoyed about having an Adam and Mercy POV, and that’s from the diverging plot. Once the overall kidnapping portion was over with, the plot no longer stayed in Milan. Adam had his own set of troubles to deal with while Mercy ended up surviving on her own through another plot. Yes, both their POVs started to converge once more, and yes, those mother-effing vampires were largely behind most of the story, but I absolutely loved that Adam and Mercy had to find their own way without each other’s backs.

I’ve seen Mercy deal with problems without Adam in the early books, but I took for granted that she can handle herself even without the brunt of the Columbia Basin and Aspen Creek packs protecting her from the sidelines. And I do love the combination of Adam and Mercy working through a problem together (like they did in the previous book), but them being forced apart is just as good. It really does give Adam a chance to shine, and I love him even more now!

The vampire dynamics. I will admit, I have little interest in the vampires of the Mercy Thompson books, and I found fae-related stories more riveting. HOWEVER, on occasion, the vampire-centric books do have awesome stories; Bone Crossed and Silence Fallen are prime examples. (I also did love Blood Bound.) I did love reading about Marsilia’s old haunting grounds, and the Lord of Night finally made his appearance, which is fabulous. Not so very fabulous was Bonarata’s crazy obsession with female werewolves. I would have done what Honey did, too, had I been there in person to see what the Lord of Night did.

And, um, can I have a spinoff of Bran stories, too? I just…there’s always so much the werewolves and vampires and every other supernatural creature say about Bran, and I just want more stories of him, because he’s so effing badass! I mean, I could also ask for Elizaveta spinoff stories, but I’m pretty sure Briggs is already working on a witch-wolf spinoff in the same universe, so I’m fine with that.

5 out of 5 cookies! I could seriously reread this again now, just to see how I completely missed that reveal at the very end. Kudos, Briggs, for another delightful book in the Mercy Thompson universe.

Silence Fallen counts as #8 of my Flights of Fantasy Challenge!


Have you read this book? What did you think?

TTT: Books About the Undead

Considering I just finished my stint on reading a fabulous zombie steampunk novel (*coughCheriePriest’sBoneshakercough*), I thought I’d explore the realm of the undead. That being said, I was also pretty tempted to put ghost story books here, but I can’t really say I loved too many of them, and I’ve only just started Anna Dressed in Blood to give it proper judgment in the matter.

All the same, Happy early Samhain!

ttt

For more information on Top Ten Tuesday, click here.

Top Ten Books About the Undead

or otherwise known as

Vampires and Zombies and Ghouls Oh My!

The Zombies

World War Z by Max Brooks – Because the zombie apocalypse happening internationally is brilliantly scary. And I am so ready with Max Brooks as my survival guide.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Graphic Novel by Jane Austen, Seth Grahame-Smith, adapted by Tony Lee, illustrated by Cliff Richards – Seeing the novel version of this made me LOL so hard. Seeing the graphic novel adaptation of said novel version? Pure awesomeness. Jane Austen probably rolled around in her grave, but I’m pretty sure even she can see the poetic beauty of doing so.

The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman – Obviously a mentionable on this list. Who hasn’t heard of the term zombies and not thought about Robert Kirkman’s popular comics series? Granted, I’m completely behind on both comics and TV show, but eh, I’ve always been a slow turtle.

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest – I’m in the process of writing a review on this book, but suffice to say that I couldn’t have picked up a better Halloween-themed book than a book about zombies, wars, mad scientists, and steampunk.

The Vampires

Dracula by Bram Stoker – The book that brought forth inspiration for all its subsequent vampire-related fiction. Granted, if I tried to read this book again today, my attention span would probably peter off into the distance. Still, there is no denying the fact that Dracula is pretty much a household term. Mostly to describe blood-sucking undead kings.

Hellsing by Kouta Hirano – Admittedly, I have not read the manga yet. I have watched both the anime and the OVA, and the latter follows the manga quite well. I’m not sure I could get through the manga series, though. I had way too many feels at the end of the OVA.

Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice – I pretty much went through an Anne Rice phase in high school, and while I’m not as interested in picking up her books these days, I do give her credit for introducing me into the vampire fiction world. Heck, I’d read Interview with the Vampire way before I’d tackled Dracula, so that’s saying a lot.

Vampire Hunter D by Hideyuki Kikuchi (illustrated by Yoshitaka Amano) – Firstly, the artwork is by Yoshitaka Amano. Same guy who had done a majority of the concept artwork for my favorite Eastern RPGs, the Final Fantasy series. Secondly, D is badass. He’s one of my favorite vampire creatures ever.

A Bit of Both

The Shambling Guide to New York City by Mur Lafferty – I wasn’t totally wowed by this book, but it was still a fun read. The zombies were adorable in this book, and the vampires were hilarious.

Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs – I chose this particular book because it was one of my favorites. Also, it dealt mostly with vampires, though in all honesty, I feel like thralls count as zombies. I’m pretty sure some vampires even had the skills to reanimate the dead, so there are probably zombies in this urban fantasy anyway.

Review: Daughters of Shadow and Blood – Book 1 by J. Matthew Saunders

You know, I do read NetGalley summaries. I really do. But sometimes there’s a long time in between my requesting a book and actually getting to it that I often don’t remember why I requested it in the first place. In this case, much of what I had read blurb-wise got forgotten.

So the vampires were a surprise.


DAUGHTERS OF SHADOW AND BLOOD: BOOK 1 – YASAMIN

by J. Matthew Saunders
Saint George’s Press, May 2015
Historical fantasy
Rated: cookieratingcookieratingcookierating / 5 cookies
provided by NetGalley

daughtersshadowbloodBuda, Ottoman Hungary, 1599: Yasamin, the naïve daughter of an Ottoman bureaucrat, finds herself trapped in an arranged marriage to the son of the powerful governor of Buda. She is unprepared for the gossip and scheming rampant in the palace but realizes she faces more than petty jealousies when someone tries to drown her in the baths on the day before her wedding. An unearthly menace lurks in the palace corridors, and the one person able to protect Yasamin is a soldier named Iskander, who seems to appear whenever she needs him. Charming and confident, he is nothing like her new husband, but trusting either of them could be a deadly mistake.

Berlin, Germany, 1999: Adam Mire, an American professor of history, discovers a worn, marked-up copy of Dracula. The clues within its pages send him on a journey across the stark landscape of Eastern Europe, searching for a medallion that once belonged to Dracula himself. But a killer hounds Adam’s footsteps, and each new clue he uncovers brings him closer to a beguiling, raven-haired woman named Yasamin Ashrafi, who might be the first of Dracula’s legendary Brides.

Adam has an agenda of his own, however, a quest more personal than anyone knows. One misstep, and his haunted past could lead to death from a blade in his back … or from Yasamin’s fatal embrace.

What I Loved

Introductory pacing. It didn’t take long for me to get into the story. Actually, the mention of Dracula’s medallion pretty much perked me up, and the fact that a great portion of the book took place in Ottoman Hungary piqued my interest.

A look at Dracula’s wives. This book, besides being a paranormal outlook of the 16th century, focuses on one of the three relatively unknown wives of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. There isn’t much to be gleaned off of the Stoker novel, but I found that Saunders did well to take a closer look at each of the wives in turn, assuming the next books will delve into the past of the other two wives.

Yasamin’s story. Honestly, I thought Yasamin’s story carried the entire book, and I would have loved more insight into her past and how she managed to survive four hundred years without getting killed off by the numerous groups that seem to be after her.

Historical richness. There was a lot of historical events that were interwoven into the conversation and the story. Because I’m a dork and I had this slight obsession over the time period of Vlad the Impaler, Janos Hunyadi, Matthias Corvinus, and the subsequent Ottoman conquests (and because I may have spent one NaNoWriMo writing a historical fantasy about these said people), it was cool to read someone else’s take on things around the time period.

Love/Hate Relationship

‘My grandmother used to tell me about the place where she grew up, not far from here, just over the mountains. She said there is a special kind of djinn that takes the body of a deceased person and visits in the night to steal life from the living.’

Mixing of cultures. Actually, this is probably more along the stuff I love. Yasamin’s POV largely hinges on Ottoman and Persian myths, with the constant mentions of djinn and occasional ghuls (which may have been mentioned only in passing, and never outwardly said). Adam’s POV focuses on the Eastern European myth of the vampire and the conspiracies revolving around secret European organizations. I liked that these became intertwined within the story. At some point, though, the interconnections kind of got confusing to follow, and I was a little disappointed that the “djinn” portion really didn’t amount to much in the end.

What I Didn’t Like

Too many POVs. For a book that’s around 330 pages, there were too many viewpoints added into the story. Honestly, I thought Adam and Yasamin were great as viewpoints, and I found their sharing of each other’s stories kind of likened itself to the Scheherazade tale. Only, in this case, it’s Adam who’s trying to keep himself alive by having to entertain the Byzantine-Ottoman vampire. Unfortunately, the POVs didn’t stop there, and the book included various one-off accounts as well as written accounts of Michael the Brave and a third viewpoint of “Evil Mystery Man”. There was too many, and I found myself not caring about the introduction of characters that ended up getting killed off the very next scene after they got introduced.

Disjointed narratives. This kind of goes along the same path as too many POVs. The chapters are short, and often frustratingly so, especially when right after a specific scene, the next chapter moves onto a different scene and not altogether related to the previous one. This drove me nuts, especially when all I wanted to do was continue Yasamin’s story, only to be thrown into a conversation between Adam and Yasamin, and then onto a letter from some dude that makes a mention of Yasamin, and then back to Adam’s action-oriented POV. It made no narrative sense to me, and by the time I got back to Yasamin, I was missing the point of what Adam was trying to make several chapters back.

Underwhelming ending. I’m assuming most of the mysteries are carried over to the next books, but is it too much to ask for a bunch of the conflict to get resolved in Book 1? Yasamin is no closer to getting what she wants, Adam is no closer to getting what he wants (minus the little revenge angle), and I’m pretty sure Mr. Evil Mystery Man is not even close to causing the havoc that he wants.

Deus ex machina. I feel like Adam gets saved by random characters that show up at the nick of time whenever he’s about to die. Then on top of that, he gets in one trouble after another. The guy can’t catch a break, he leaves a lot of death behind him (and it seems like the ONLY ones he felt sorry about are the girls he could have had romantic relationships with), and he barely carries his own weight as far as getting himself out of trouble goes. There’s a point where he gets saved by a “mysterious figure” that shows up in the nick of time, and I just. Could. Not. Deal.

3 out of 5 cookies! The premise was great, but I’m not sure I could get through another book with so many disjointed narratives.


shadowblood-anya

Review: Artful by Peter David

To be honest, I hadn’t expected the vampires.


ARTFUL

by Peter David
47North, July 2014
Victorian paranormal fantasy
provided by NetGalley

artfulGoodreads: Oliver Twist is one of the most well-known stories ever told, about a young orphan who has to survive the mean streets of London before ultimately being rescued by a kindly benefactor.

But it is his friend, the Artful Dodger, who has the far more intriguing tale, filled with more adventure and excitement than anything boring Oliver could possibly get up to. Throw in some vampires and a plot to overthrow the British monarchy, and what you have is the thrilling account that Charles Dickens was too scared to share with the world.

From the brilliant mind of novelist and comic book veteran Peter David,Artful is the dark, funny, and action-packed story of one of the most fascinating characters in literary history.

With vampires.

In hindsight, I should have probably expected them, considering it’s a highlight in the summary of the book. But clearly I didn’t read the summary fully and only got past the first sentence about the Artful Dodger…

Jumbly Thoughts

The reading was a lukewarm experience, because while I don’t normally mind reading another vampire novel, particularly one that is set in the Victorian period, I did have certain issue with the execution of the tale. Part of it was probably because the dated language was rough around the edges. I guess the closest thing I could compare it to (and only because I’ve been trying to get my students to work on their Christmas show song) is a piano piece: Artful is to someone playing Schubert’s “Serenade” by plunking with one finger as Oliver Twist is to a smooth two-handed rendition of the same piano piece.

Not sure if that makes things any clearer, and the difference is stark, but in reality I did like the book enough to finish it.

The beginning did drag on, however, and it was only during my reading about Fagin and Mr. Fang that I actually perked up and got interested in the story. The Artful Dodger himself was an interesting character, and probably the appeal to this book is the fact that Dodger was a reworked character taken from a Charles Dickens novel. Certainly that was the reason why I was interested in a reader copy of ArtfulBut in the end, I saw Dodger’s back story and relation to the Oliver Twist tale as unnecessary. Dodger could have just been any random thief-anti-hero character created for a fictional historical during the days of young Victoria and it wouldn’t have made much of a difference. Sure there were familiar characters from the Oliver Twist tale that were probably cool to see, but they weren’t much more than cameos, so could have been taken off entirely.

The vampire conspiracy was something out of a Victorian pulp, which, for me, was the best part of the book. I liked that young Victoria had a slight role to play in the story, liked the inclusion of the young Helsing as well. I liked the little twist about Fagin’s storyline (and the epilogue bits about him), and thought Mr. Fang was rather diabolical, if not too far-reaching.

In the end, I couldn’t help but snort at the Drina-Dodger pairing development and the really didn’t see the point, considering nothing really ever amounted to it. The Bram-Dodger relationship was probably more interesting to see, since the two practically played off each other for the majority of the story, and it was always fun to see the next thing they would do to save the day–or kill some vampires.


3 out of 5 Goodreads stars!

ARC Review: Shifting Shadows by Patricia Briggs

Mercy Thompson fans will want this book for two main reasons:

  1. Damn, that is one mighty fine cover.
  2. Short stories in Mercyverse including stories that haven’t been put in anthologies yet whaaaaat??!@!!omg111!!!!

A little disclaimer: This has only been my second exposure to the Mercy Thompson universe, and previous to this, the only actual novel of this universe that I’d read was Moon Called. But while I am still just starting my journey on the Patricia Briggs bandwagon, I will say now that I thought the anthology was superb.

I read all 400 pages of Shifting Shadows and enjoyed each story. Wait, what’s that, you say? “But there are over 460 pages’ worth of stories in Shifting Shadows!” Yes, I am aware of that. While I was open to some spoilery things in later books, I drew the line somewhere. It’s a really thin line, but I intend to go back to these stories once I’ve read more of the actual series, so there’s that.


SHIFTING SHADOWS

by Patricia Briggs
Ace Hardcover, September 2014
Urban fantasy

shiftingshadowsShifting Shadows is a collection of 10 short stories and 2 “outtakes” revolving around the urban fantasy world of Mercy Thompson. In the collection, readers will find several stories of secondary characters that show up within the Mercy Thompson and Alpha & Omega series (in various books), as well as stories about well-loved recurring characters. You even get one short story with Mercy herself (“Hollow”). It’s really easy to talk endlessly about each short story that I’ve read, and goodness knows I took copious notes while I read them (which were mostly for my benefit). In any case, to save you from what is already going to be an overlong writeup: you can check out what Briggs has to say about the contents of Shifting Shadows here.

My Thoughts (mostly spoiler-free to a degree)

Since all of the stories are relatively new to me, I’m just going to go ahead and mention them in the order they appear in the book.

“Silver” is meant to be a romantic tragedy and an origin story of Samuel and Bran, though mostly of Samuel, as well as Samuel and Ariana. I swear there were onions hidden in the pages, because I might have teared a bit reading the short. If I didn’t already adore Bran and Sam when I read of them in Moon Called, this story would have clinched their characters for me. Also, Bran is frelling badass.

“Fairy Gifts” is a Montana-based story about a vampire returning to his hometown after receiving a plea from a fae. It was short and sweet, though it was a little more difficult to empathize with the character, since I’m not particularly keen on Mercyverse vampires as of yet.

“Gray” is another vampire story, this time taking place in Chicago, where Elyna returns to her husband’s home. This one I liked better than “Fairy Gifts,” but I think that’s a mixture of the fact that there’s a female vampire who kicks ass and the presence of a ghost watching her back. Kind of romantic, I think.

“Seeing Eye” is fantastic. After the introduction of Elizaveta Arkadyevna in Moon Called, I’ve been curious as to the inner workings of the witches in Mercyverse. Getting to read about a blind white witch was cool, but putting a werewolf in there as well was even better. Talk about a blind woman with her guide dog–or, in this case, wolf.

“Alpha and Omega” is certainly the start of what I think will be a beautiful series–and in conjunction, a beautiful series relationship. This was a story where I sat back and thought: “Dammit, this is another Briggs series I have to pick up, isn’t it?” I can see why it could easily be a favorite short story among fans, because it was one of mine in this collection. Also, apparently Briggs describes the Anna/Charles relationship as “sweet”, not “steamy.” Um. I’m not sure I agree. This short story was plenty steamy to me.

“The Star of David” is a cute Christmas short story about reuniting with loved ones. David Christiansen was talked of and eventually became kind of important in Moon Called, so a short story with him during the events after with his estranged daughter was nice.

homecoming

Mercy and the wolf pack are SO badass.

“Roses in Winter” is not particularly endearing for me, because I’ve yet to read about any of the characters in the short besides Bran and Charles. Asil’s role as an old wolf waiting to die is interesting, though, and I’m thinking Kara’s got one hell of a sad, sad backstory.

“In Red, With Pearls” features my favorite gay werewolf! Okay, probably the only gay werewolf in the series, but I don’t care. Warren’s awesome, and so’s his main squeeze. This short plays out as a mini-detective story, and includes zombies and witches. Yeah.

“Redemption” features Ben, who plays a slight role in Moon Called. I admit I haven’t warmed up to Ben just yet, though this particular short story did leave me quite amused.

“Hollow” is Mercy-related, and the two outtakes happen to be Sam and Adam’s points of view (which, IMO, is AWESOME), respectively. Again, I will have to read them at a later time, because they occur way too far into the series and I do have some sort of spoiler-line that I don’t want to cross.

Mercyverse Reading Guide

At this juncture, I would say: “Go get this collection when it comes out!” as well as: “Go read the Mercy Thompson series!” But don’t do what I did and read one book and then start on the short stories unless you are bracing yourself for a few spoilers (and trust me, you will get them). Some of the stories take place before/during/a little after Moon Called, but a number of them do not. In fact, some of the characters in the collection don’t even show up until later books. So below, I’ve included a guide into optimizing your reading of Mercyverse.

Chronological Order (as of 2014)

  • Pre-Series
    • “Silver” (Shifting Shadows)
    • Homecoming (Mercy Thompson Graphic Novel)
    • “Gray” (Shifting Shadows)
    • “Fairy Gifts” (Shifting Shadows)
    • “Seeing Eye” (Shifting Shadows)
  • Moon Called (Mercy Thompson, #1)
    • “Alpha and Omega” (Shifting Shadows)
  • Cry Wolf (Alpha & Omega, #1)
  • Hunting Ground (Alpha & Omega, #2)
    • “The Star of David” (Shifting Shadows)
  • Blood Bound (Mercy Thompson, #2)
  • Iron Kissed (Mercy Thompson, #3)
  • Bone Crossed (Mercy Thompson, #4)
    • “Roses in Winter” (Shifting Shadows)
  • Silver Borne (Mercy Thompson, #5)
    • “Outtake – Sam” (Shifting Shadows)
    • “In Red, With Pearls” (Shifting Shadows)
  • River Marked (Mercy Thompson, #6)
  • Fair Game (Alpha & Omega, #3)
  • Frost Burned (Mercy Thompson, #7)
    • “Redemption” (Shifting Shadows)
  • Dead Heat (Alpha & Omega, #4)
  • Night Broken (Mercy Thompson, #8)
    • “Outtake – Adam” (Shifting Shadows)
    • “Hollow” (Shifting Shadows)

That being said, I don’t plan to read the Alpha & Omega series until I’ve at least finished 3-4 of the Mercy Thompson books, and some short stories I’d recommend reading before certain books. “Silver” can be read at any time, but it might be better to read it right before Silver Borne (which practically continues “Silver”). “Seeing Eye” occurs a year before Moon Called, but might be better read, context-wise, before or after Hunting Ground. It’s really dependent on whether you care about character familiarity over chronology, or vice versa. My general opinion is to at least start Moon Called before anything else to test out whether or not you like the Mercyverse to begin with. And I suppose one could skip out on the Alpha & Omega series altogether and still get the gist of the stories, but hey, got to cover the bases, right?

Some final notes:

5 out of 5 Goodreads stars!