Friday, October 10, 2014
Anthology Review: Shifting Shadows: Stories from the World of Mercy Thompson by Patricia Briggs
Title: Shifting Shadows: Stories from the World of Mercy Thompson
Author: Patricia Briggs
Rating: 4 Stars
Shifting Shadows is a definite must for fans of Mercy Thompson--no doubt about it. It opens with a relatively long tale--nearly novella length--which covers the initial meeting between Sam and Ariana. While it is often difficult for readers (at least myself) to tear away from the perfection that is Adam Hauptman, I truly adored the fact that this collection dares to give us the back stories of characters we've been curious about. Sam and Ariana's tale, though not one I'll likely ever find myself re-reading, is a powerful story with unexpected depth. Much later in the anthology, we re-visit this couple and understanding their past gives their present a rich undertone.
With the exception of "Silver", the majority of my favorite short stories from this novel are ones that have been published elsewhere. "Alpha & Omega" is stunning, as always, especially upon re-read. Tom's story with the blind witch (whose name I'm blanking on at the moment, sorry!) is just as compelling in its subtleties as I remembered. Of course, Kyle and Warren's story is unforgettable (that cowboy line though!). The last three short stories surround Mercy herself. Shortly following Night Broken she finds herself on a mission to dispel a ghost--and what a creepy ghost it is! I didn't expect to enjoy this tale as much as I did but, naturally, even the short presence of Adam Hauptman made my day.
Speaking of our resident werewolf, Adam's appearance in the last two tales--outtakes from Silver Borne and Night Broken--were utterly rewarding. It's often difficult to situate a reader in an isolated outtake, especially as I've read the majority of this series quite awhile ago, but Briggs manages to involve her reader completely in the world, time period, and situation she creates. Moreover, it would be remiss of me to ignore the brilliant and to-the-point synopses Briggs provides readers in the beginning of each short story. Not only does she inform us of where in the Mercy-verse each story falls, but she also gives us insider information on the creation of the novellas, which I always enjoy.
Shifting Shadows would not be the strong volume it is without the presence of Asil thrown cleverly into the middle of the anthology. While I'd have cherished a tale of Asil's mate, I grew to thoroughly enjoy the tale Briggs weaved for him and found myself missing it when it finished. Ultimately, this collection is full of depth, character growth, and back stories that only enrich our understanding of the world Briggs has built. If nothing else, it enables us to see that the extent of Briggs's imagination has only briefly been touched and that, as readers, we are still in for such a treat regarding future Mercy installments. I, for one, cannot wait. (I already need more Adam Hauptman in my life!)