If you've been noticing lately, I've gone through a bit of a Patrica Briggs binge. In fact, a "bit" is a major understatement. I recently reviewed the first couple of Mercy Thompson novels (HERE) and moved on promptly to the spin-off series, Alpha and Omega. Now, having finished it, I can honestly admit to liking this spin-off even more than the original.
Author: Patricia Briggs
Rating: 4 Stars
Without a doubt, Alpha & Omega surprised me. For one, I wasn't expecting this prequel novella to be so integral to the plot line of this series. I actually only picked it up before Cry Wolf because I was in the mood for something shorter at first, but very quickly, I realized that Alpha & Omega is, in fact, a must-read before beginning this series. And what a beginning it is.
Alpha & Omega begins with Anna, a submissive in her Chicago pack, phoning Bran to report that she saw a local missing boy being tortured by her pack alpha, Leo. For those of us who have read Moon Called, the torture of the missing boy in question is no surprise and the story line quickly begins to fall into place. Charles, the enforcer/assassin and son of Bran flies into Chicago, intent on investigating the strange doings of the Chicago pack. What he doesn't count on, however, is being instantly attracted to Anna when she greets him at the airport. Even more surprising, though, is that his wolf quickly claims Anna as his mate, but Anna's past may be darker than Charles anticipated and their mating not quite as easy as he plans.
What I loved about Alpha & Omega, right off the bat, was Anna. Mercy and Anna are as different as heroines can come, but that doesn't make Anna any less fierce, strong, or brave. If anything, she is more. Anna, unlike most wolves, was changed into a werewolf without her consent and then told that she was a submissive in the pack. Just to add insult to injury, Leo, the alpha, passed Anna around like a whore to be brutalized by dominant wolves. As we soon find out, there is a reason for this disgusting behavior, but that doesn't change the fact that Anna is fearful of men, and dominant wolves in particular.
Charles, as we all know by now, is as dominant as they come. Yet, being the only werewolf to be born in his wolf form, he is different from most. Although it is his wolf that first recognizes Anna as his mate - and his protective instincts kick in almost immediately - he slowly begins to care for Anna as a person too. Underneath her rigid and fearful exterior, he sees the inner strength that has kept Anna alive for three years as a wolf and he appreciates what she is. Moreover, he recognizes that she is no submissive, but an Omega, or one who obeys no dominant wolf and instead brings peace to those around her.
Despite the fact that Alpha & Omega is a short novel, we are able to become thoroughly invested in the sweet romance at play here. Of course, it reads much like love-at-first-sight, but the undercurrents of deeper affection are easily felt. Even more so, our two leads, Anna and Charles, come into their own and become just as important and interesting as Mercy or Adam are as well. Furthermore, I loved the mystery of unraveling what had happened to the Chicago pack. It was different from the usual cases that Briggs has written and had much darker undertones, but perhaps I enjoyed it all the more because of that. Or maybe it was just the length - intriguing, short, and a quick conclusion without long and drawn-out details. Either way, Alpha & Omega is the perfect hook to what promises to be an excellent spin-off series and if you go into this expecting a quick read, you'll likely surprise yourself by scrambling to get your hands on Cry Wolf very quickly after.
Title: Cry Wolf (A&O, #1)
Author: Patricia Briggs
Rating: 3 Stars
For some reason, I thought I'd enjoy Cry Wolf a little more than I did. Alpha & Omega had me completely - hook, line, and sinker - for this spin-off series and even with such a short novella, I already felt invested in the lives of Anna and Charles. As such, it came as a surprise to find that, at the end, I only just liked this book. It wasn't mind-blowing and it certainly wasn't on par to Iron Kissed or Bone Crossed, but I have high hopes for the next two installments. Patricia Briggs has not disappointed me yet and I doubt she's planning to start now.
Cry Wolf picks up directly where we left off in Alpha & Omega with Anna adjusting to life in a new pack as Charles heals. Very quickly, however, Bran sends the two off to deal with a rogue wolf in the woods. As it turns out, however, there is more at stake than just a rogue wolf Charles and Anna may find themselves facing something - or someone - they are wholly unprepared for.
What Cry Wolf excels in, just as its predecessor did, is the characterization of Anna. I really enjoyed the balance that was reached both within her inner strengths and her outer weaknesses. At times, Anna can be a difficult character to understand, especially with the dual narration from both her perspective and that of Charles, but all-in-all, I couldn't find fault with her growth throughout this book. Charles, on the other hand, though kind and full of good intent, was ever-so-slightly irritating. For someone who has lived on this planet for nearly two centuries, he acted completely immature when it came to his relationship with Anna. At times, I wasn't sure who was more insecure - Anna or Charles - and Charles has no excuse, really.
Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the banter, mood swings, and creeping relationship between these two. Where Cry Wolf lost me, unfortunately, was in its mystery. Although it was very different from the norm and it pleasantly surprised me with its originality, I felt as if it dragged too much. I kept waiting for it to get over sooner for it didn't keep my attention or prove how high the stakes were really raised. I suspect part of this has to do with the fact that Cry Wolf takes place before Bone Crossed, the last MT novel I read, and I already know that these characters turn out to be fine, but if the ending hadn't left me feeling so relieved, I would have definitely enjoyed this one more. Nevertheless, Anna and Charles are a charming set of new leads, ones to rival my love for Mercy and Adam (Actually, who am I kidding? NO ONE rivals Adam. Except maybe Curran. Possibly.) and Cry Wolf, while not impressing me, has be thirsting for its sequel already. At the rate she's going, I have to presume that Patricia Briggs doesn't know the words "disappointment" at all. And I am so glad she doesn't.