Iron Kissed is the third book in the popular Mercedes Thompson urban fantasy series by New York Times bestselling author Patricia Briggs. Currently, there are four books in this series about the shape-shifting mechanic and one book in the Alpha and Omega series set in the same world with the second novel forthcoming this summer. The first book in the Mercedes Thompson series is Moon Called, the second is Blood Bound, and the fourth is Bone Crossed (which was recently released in hardcover). When completed, the series will contain at least seven books.
In the previous book, Mercy racked up yet another favor when her fae friend Zee lent her some useful items for vanquishing some nasty vampires. While she is at movie night with the werewolf Warren and his boyfriend, Zee calls and requests she repay him immediately. Several fae have been murdered in their homes on the fae reservation and Zee hopes that Mercy can use her coyote senses to pick up a scent common to all the crime scenes. She does indeed manage to find one smell present at each house, which leads to the imprisonment of Zee when he goes to confront the suspect just in time to find his fresh corpse.
Mercy decides to help Zee as much as she can, even if it means angering some of the other fae who would rather she mind her own business. Meanwhile, it has become apparent that Mercy needs to choose between Samuel and Adam as the tension escalates between the two very dominant werewolves. It’s a decision she’s not sure that she can make – not only does she care for both but she can’t imagine losing the friendship of either one.
Each book in this series I read is better than its predecessor. Of course, I may be a bit partial to this one because this time the main mystery involves the fae, which fascinate me far more than werewolves or vampires. Ever since I was about 6 years old, I’ve loved the more disturbing fairy tales by Hans Christian Anderson and The Brothers Grimm, so they have always held a special place in my heart. The fae of Mercy’s world are of the devious variety – the type you cannot turn your back on for a moment and under no circumstances does one want to owe them. In addition to their dark natures, I also really love the mythology surrounding them and the wide variety of fae races.
Putting aside my bias toward the subject of the mythos of the dark fae, the writing in this book is an improvement over the earlier ones. It is very impressive that Briggs can pack so much into such a short novel. She maintains great balance between action/plot and character/relationship development. Dull moments are non-existent and this was another page-turner that I could hardly put down. Now that there are a few books, the info dumps are becoming less frequent and jarring, although they are still present. It did feel a bit formulaic in the beginning since the mystery plotline was introduced basically the same as the last book – Mercy was asked to return a favor she owed someone who somehow helped her save the day in the last book.
Mercy remains the same character I came to love in the first two books. Even if she does have shape-shifting ability, she is very realistic and human. She tends to be practical and down-to-earth, but she’s not perfect and does have difficulty with keeping her mouth shut at times. Loyalty and friendship are important to her, and part of her difficulty with choosing between Samuel and Adam is the thought of hurting one of them. Yet she is also a very independent woman and will not let either of them walk all over her – if she feels one of them is being too possessive or trying to provoke the other, she makes a point of backing off. This isn’t to say she never gives in to her feelings toward one of them, but when she does, it’s generally not for long before her better judgment kicks in. Both of these men are dominant, overbearing werewolf control freaks, though, so it will be interesting to see if she can continue to deal with them without completely compromising her free spirit.
The love triangle is a refreshing departure from the norm – it is not particularly angsty and Mercy never takes of advantage of it. She is not flirty and she doesn’t gloat about being so popular with the men (even if it is a little uncanny how many of them are attracted to a woman who is described as being not particularly pretty). As with everything else, she has a pragmatic attitude toward it. When she does think about Samuel or Adam, she does not let her heart overrule her head but really thinks about who is right for her and how he would affect her life. Also, the conundrum of who Mercy ends up with is resolved in this novel – and without a lot of drama, in a way that really works and makes sense.
This novel does contain a scene toward the end that is more disturbing than the other two books in the series so far. Since it would be a spoiler to say what it is, it’s a little tough to warn those who may find it difficult to read about it. Despite the severe circumstances, it was executed without being overly graphic. In fact, there was so little detail that I wasn’t exactly sure what had happened at first and had to reread the scene.
Iron Kissed is another strong (but somewhat darker) installment in the Mercy Thompson series involving supernatural races, an entertaining mystery plot, and an endearing lead character. This is the most fun new series I have discovered so far this year and I’ll definitely be picking up more books by Patricia Briggs, both in this series and some of her older ones.