Saturday, November 12, 2016

Alpha and Omega: Delving into Another Briggs' Series

Alpha and Omega and Cry Wolf, Patricia Briggs
Ohmygoodness.  I loved Mercy so much, I found it hard to believe I could really get into a werewolf novel that saw her sidelined.  My fears were unfounded. 
  • The novella included within the Cry Wolf volume I lent from the library was delicious in its own right.  Do not start the series without first giving about an hour to this perfect introduction to the Alpha and Omega leading duo.  I like them so much!!!
  • It was great to be in the same world but with other characters.  I'm sure it all would have made good sense without my existing scaffolding (I've read all of the Mercy Thompson novels published), but it was so satisfying to have more of something I enjoy so much when there's no more Mercy to read.
  • Her pacing is so. good.
  • Sensual covers.  Sheesh.  Anna so isn't like that either.  GAH!
  • I really really dug the romance.
  • I wouldn't say I was jumping at bumps in the night with this one (I have with other Briggs' novels, she can have me seriously on edge!) but I definitely felt the suspense.

Hunting Ground, Patricia Briggs
  • I found this one comparatively the slowest of the four books that are out in this series.  It continues to develop Anna and Charles' relationship and introduces some characters which are referenced or reappear in the series though, so I wouldn't skip it.  It still isn't a bad book at all.  The key with Briggs, for me, is that not all of her books are gripping (some are, however, true page-turners).  Some are slightly slower, but they are always smartly done and the characters are always good.  I will always come back for more Briggs for her intelligent characters -- their motives, actions and dialogue are always fantastic.
  • As with all of these, there is battle violence.
  • This book is really about fleshing out werewolf politics, including both Anna and Charles taking turns protecting each other.
 Fair Game, Patricia Briggs
  • This book takes such a cool turn -- the inter-species and inter-agency cooperation was super-satisfying.  I loved seeing the characters I know and love through new eyes.  It is like crime fiction with an injection of magic.
  • There is a complex relationship web in this one and a lot of dynamic shifts.
  • Of the first four books, this is my favourite.  The story is so strong.
  • But...the crime fiction aspect (which also makes it great) brings a lot more darkness.  The kind of darkness I found hard.  Be warned, the crimes against innocents are awful (although not explored in great depth).
  • The characters may be married, but things get steamier and more detailed than I prefer.  There are bedroom lovemaking euphemisms mostly.
  • I can't say it enough: Briggs is awesome for having romance consistently develop and lead to marriage...and then stay strong in marriage. This is a huge appeal for me.  I get a lot of satisfaction from reading about fiercely loyal marriages where they love no one like their spouse. This decisiveness and faithfulness is lacking in YA fiction (and I mostly get it -- for many those years are about indecision, exploration and finding your way) -- but I have to step out of that sometimes and be reminding that heroines like Anna (and Mercy) can make a choice and stick with it...forever.  I wish more YA slipped heroines in like these, because sure, representing common experience is good, but having some characters that model something to aspire to would also be helpful.
 Dead Heat, Patricia Briggs
  • Good.  Slower than Book 3, faster than Book 2, about on par with Book 1, in terms of pacing.  There's some real tenderness here.  This book continues with the crime fiction + magic formula, but it doesn't really pick this up until midway through.  The book got much better for it; the start was slow and steady.
  • Again - darkness is introduced as a result of this angle (crimes against innocents) and there is married sensuality.  Nothing like Game of Thrones or NA Maas...but it's there. 
Also, while we're talking Briggs, I checked out another short story collection of hers:
Shifting Shadows, Patricia Briggs
  • Of these short stories, I enjoyed the Sam, Ben and Mercy stories most. 
The sum-up:
If you're still waiting to sample Briggs, you could start with the Alpha & Omega series or Mercy.  Either one will give you a good taste for the world and an idea of whether or not it's for you.  This series has less books out already (four), so could be a less overwhelming place to begin.  Either way, if you think you might like probably will...oh, you're in for a treat.  Twilight's much smarter, better cousin.  The covers are still annoying.  Charles and Anna are more like this in my head:

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