With a Little Help from My Friends

Review: Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs (Mercy Thompson series)

Even though I just finished reading the Mercy books at the beginning of this year, I was chomping at the bit to get the new one. I adore Mercy, Adam, Warren, Ben, Samuel, and the rest of the Tri-Cities gang. So I was very excited to learn that I didn't have long to wait. Frost Burned didn't disappoint me! The story might sound familiar. Someone kidnaps the wolves and drugs them with Gerry Wallace's concocted werewolf drug. But it takes a couple of twists along the way. I'll discuss those twists, and the rest of the story, and my thoughts on the book after the jump!

Warning: Minor(ish) Spoilers Ahead!!

The Story
Frost Burned starts out innocently enough. Jesse, Mercy's stepdaughter, has dragged Mercy out of the house for some Black Friday shopping. They hit WalMart and then, on their way to the mall, Jesse drops this bomb on Mercy: 

RIP, Rabbit
"When are you and Dad going to have a baby?"

Mercy promptly freaks out and rear ends the car in front of them. Unfortunately, this results in the death of Mercy's beloved VW Rabbit. A passing to be mourned by any fan of the series. That car was nearly a character in its own right.

How does this keep happening to you, Mercy?
While sitting on the curb, trying to call for a ride, Mercy and Jesse realize that no one in the pack is answering. They just left the majority of the pack at their house relaxing after Thanksgiving dinner, so someone should be there to answer the phone. After calling Adam, Darryl, Warren, and several other pack members, Mercy begins to get worried. She hitches a ride to her shop with the tow truck driver, and finds Gabriel and a barely human Ben hiding there.

Ben haltingly explains that a group of supposed Federal agents burst in and loaded everyone up and took them away. Ben himself only just escapes out the window. But in the process, he is shot with a tranquilizer dart. Mercy recognizes Ben's symptoms as those of Gerry Wallace's manufactured drug, the only drug in existence that is effective on werewolves.

Mercy, Ben (in wolf form), Jesse, and Gabriel then go on a frantic hunt for some answers. They run through nearly all of Mercy's friends in search of help, and then later, answers and revenge. They go to Samuel's brand new condo and find that he was called away by Bran. But Ariana is there to help as much as she can. They call on Zee and his son Tad. Then they are forced to turn to humans for help. Namely, Kyle, Gabriel's family, and Tony, Mercy's police officer friend. And finally, grudgingly, Stefan, Marsilia, and the seethe. They also make a couple new friends (and I use that term loosely) along the way.

50 Greatest Movie Happy Endings
48) The Breakfast Club (1985)The Ending: Having made friends during detention, the ‘Club’ signs a letter to Principal Vernon (Paul Gleason) in which they celebrate their similarities.Feelgood Factor:  Each one of us is a brain, and an athlete, and a basket case, and a princess and a criminal.As always, Mercy, Adam, and the wolves triumph in the end. But not without the help of yet another fae relic that takes a shine to Mercy, a couple of assassination attempts, and a final act showdown.

Enthusiastic Applause

And now, let's discuss briefly the things I really enjoyed about this book.

Happy Dance!!
First things first. WE GOT TWO ADAM CHAPTERS!! We got two whole chapters from Adam's perspective. A first in the Mercy series, and something I really enjoyed. I wouldn't mind getting more Adam chapters, especially when one of their lives isn't in danger. We, of course, know how Adam feels about Mercy, but it was awesome to "hear" it in his own words. We finally got to see Adam's perspective on things without it being tainted by Mercy's perceptions and sarcasm.

The other thing I liked most about this book was Tad, Zee's son. We got to see A LOT of Tad, and I grew to really like him. We've seen him a few times briefly, but in Frost Burned, we really got to know Tad. We got to know his personality, his abilities and limitations, but most importantly, we got to see how much he cares for Mercy. And why she considers him the little brother she never had. I hope that Tad sticks around for a while, and we get to see more of him in future books. He is a valuable asset and great friend to Mercy.

Wench Seal of Approval!

We also got to see Zee's house, which was wicked awesome. It is a Victorian style house with all of the appropriate styling, original light fixtures, woodworking, and all. Plus it has a hidden room accessible only by magic. That is fantastic. When I build my dream house, it will have a hidden room. I think people's houses say a lot about them, and Zee's, though sparsely furnished, speaks volumes about him. Most importantly, the prominently displayed picture of Zee and Tad's mother.

Frost Burned delved deeper into Mercy's own magic. We saw her use not only some Alpha pull from Adam, but the pack magic as well. She used her mate bond with Adam to try to track him down when they were kidnapped. She also drew on some of the pack magic to try to heal them from the drugs. She also used her new-found Coyote magic quite a bit. Since her meeting with her "father" in the last book, Mercy is discovering that she has quite a bit more magic than she knew. And she is beginning to use that magic to help herself and others. She discovers some things about her connection to the ghosts as well, and uses those to her advantage. I'm very curious to see what else Mercy will discover about herself in the coming books. I'm also beginning to think that, because of her paternal lineage, Mercy may just have an extended life span, much like the werewolves. But we'll have to wait and see.

Mercy gains two new almost allies in this book as well. Those of you who have read the Alpha & Omega series by Patricia Briggs recognized the first one, Asil the Moor. A very old werewolf who was sent to Bran's pack, Asil is a ferocious fighter and a very dominant wolf, but his strength comes at a price. His wolf is extremely close to the surface, somewhat unstable. But Bran wouldn't put Mercy and his other wolves in too much danger, so we have to assume that Asil has enough control to manage. I'd like to see him make another appearance.

Mercy's other new acquaintance is Thomas Hao, a vampire — the only vampire — in San Fransisco. Much like James Blackwood from Bone Crossed, Thomas prefers to be the only game in town. So when another vampire came calling, he sends him on his way, and then helps Marsilia to defend her seethe from him as well. He wants to keep vampire secrets under wraps for as long as possible, and the other vamp doesn't think the same way, so he has to be disposed of. Thomas is also a renowned fighter and has quite a few tricks up his sleeve. Alas, he is a vampire, so he can't really be trusted. But he is an interesting character, and I'd like to see him again.

This book also included some stellar quotes, which are one of the reasons I enjoy this series so much.

Kyle: "That's the wrong top for these."
Mercy: "Fashion Princess."
I think he might have been the only one who had watched the movie. Or no one else thought I was funny.
Mercy referring to torturing Adam with the old junk Rabbit in her former yard:
Which was why the old junker only got to wear a pair of tires on its trunk instead of getting something rude painted in fluorescent pink or (and I was saving this one for something serious) a solar-powered blinking red light that I'd found at WalMart....
And from the first Adam chapter:
Right now, he was afraid for Mercy, who didn't have the sense to be afraid for herself.

Not So Enthusiastic Applause 

And now, some of the things I did not like about this book.

McKayla does not approve.
Let me get this off my chest right off the bat. There was not anywhere near enough of Ben in this book. Okay, that's not strictly true. We saw Ben a fair amount in this book. But for most of that time, he was a wolf. I missed his dialogue and snarkiness. There was also no Samuel whatsoever. We heard from Ariana that he was doing well, and we saw their brand new condo, but neither hide nor hair of Samuel himself. He was mysteriously called away by Bran. There was very little of Zee as well, but all the time with Tad made up for it. There was also not anywhere close to enough Adam and Mercy time, but after River Marked, I'll cut Ms. Briggs a break.

In addition to not nearly enough of some characters, two characters acted somewhat oddly during the book, it seemed to me. Stefan is one of them. Obviously, some time has passed since last we saw Stefan. But when last we met, Stefan was on his way to recovery after the attempted seethe takeover and Marsilia's kidnapping of his flock. This time, Mercy mentions how changed he is and how he is not the friend he used to be. He has changed so much that Mercy very nearly considers not calling him for help. This is not the Stefan we know and love. We know that he was having some hard times, but he seemed to be pulling himself out of his funk. But it appears now that he has taken many more steps backward rather than forward. As always, he comes through in the end, but the Stefan we see at first is not the Stefan we've come to know.

Dean is confused, too!

The other character that seemed out of sorts to me was Honey. Honey and Mercy have a very complicated relationship. However, they seemed to have sorted out any lingering weirdness between them. They are never going to be best friends, but they no longer had any open hostility between them. Until now anyway. In this book, any progress they had made toward tolerating each other seems to have gone out the window. They are back at square one. Honey is back to hating Mercy and her place in the pack. Yes, Mercy questioned the werewolves' tendency to discount women's place in the dominance games, but nothing has changed about that yet. And Honey is back to her old Mercy-hating ways.

The only other thing I wasn't fond of was that this book had many similarities to some of the earlier books. There was werewolf kidnapping and drugging again, like Moon Called. There was another spell to take away Mercy's free will, like Iron Kissed, and vampire takeovers, like Blood Bound and Bone Crossed. You could say that these situations were used to show how Mercy has changed since becoming an official pack member and Adam's mate. But I don't think Mercy has been given enough time to change that much. She's a stubborn thing. It's going to take more than a little time jump to change her ways. So there are enough differences and twists along the way to keep these situations from being direct copies.

Overall, I liked this addition to the series very much. It's not my favorite, but I will definitely be reading it again. It also sets up some interesting things to come in future books. I give it a solid four lips.

What about you, fellow Mercy fans? How did you like the latest installment? What are you looking forward to in the next book?


  1. I liked this one better than River Marked. I say I like it because I've read it in a heart beat. Although, I do agree, it's not the best book in the series.

    I don't like this "new" Stephan, and maybe it doesn't mean anything for future; but the guy in this book wasn't in character, IMO.

    I didn't like the overall story. IMO, it was confusing and all over the place. The things that make me like this book so much are the characters and their relationships/coversations.

    Mercy is, as usual, kicking ass. ;)

  2. I agree it wasn't a perfect book but I was so thrilled to get to see Adam's POV so that made up for a lot. I was a bit confused about how the kidnapping of the Pack tied in with the vampire politics. It seemed like a very round-about way to weaken Marsilia's power base. And it didn't seem to tie into what the mercenary guy told Adam...about how the person responsible really hated Adam and that's why his specific Pack was chosen. I also agree about there not being enough Ben though I adored how his wolf recognized Kyle as Pack. Awww....

    All in all though I was happy with it. Hopefully it's not a two year wait for the next one.

    Veronica G.

    1. yeah, the story was very confusing. But I liked the POVs as well. ;)


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