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Monday, April 2, 2012

Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs: Reread Part 1

This marks the beginning of our read of Patricia Briggs’s Blood Bound, the second novel in her Mercedes Thompson series. We went through the first, Moon Called, last year. This series is one of my favorites, but it’s been a while since I read Blood Bound, so I don’t recall a lot of what happens. In any case, I’ll give comments as close to I can to my original impressions.

The Mercedes Thompson series is about Mercy, an auto mechanic who can change into a coyote at will and was raised by werewolves. She likes her independence but often finds herself mixed up in troubles relating to the local werewolf pack or, as in this book, the local vampires. Having supernatural friends often pays off for Mercy, but it’s just as likely to get her in way over her head.



Chapter 1

Stefan, Mercy’s vampire “friend,” calls her at 3:00 a.m. to claim a favor she owes him for his aid in finding the alpha’s daughter in the previous book. Disgruntled and grumpy, Mercy agrees. Stefan shows up dressed, not in his usual jeans and t-shirt, but in menacing black. He gives Mercy a dog harness to wear in her coyote form so she can be a witness that the vampire he’s meeting that night won’t bother noticing.

Comments: I really like how Briggs immediately ties this story into the last one. It’s a logical step and immediately full of tension. I don’t particularly like getting woken up at 3 o’clock in the morning either.

Writer Comments: Knowing what I do about what happens later in the book, this chapter is full of hints that seem innocuous upon first reading, but every single one of them is designed to make future events and the climax plausible and acceptable. Briggs does a great job of weaving them into the dialogue and Mercy’s thoughts. Each basically does triple duty establishing setting, tone, and foreshadowing.

Stefan takes Mercy to a hotel that is strangely empty. As soon as she hops out of the car, she smells blood and vampire, and then a bitter-dark odor assaults her and she can smell nothing else except Stefan’s fear. What can scare a vampire? Mercy soon finds out as Stefan takes her inside and they meet Cory Littleton, an emaciated vampire who quickly reveals himself to also be a sorcerer and possessed by a demon. He’s powerful enough to freeze Stefan and taunt him while he drags a hotel maid out of the bathroom and slaughters her. Mercy can do nothing as Stefan holds her too tightly on the leash; though, that doesn’t stop her from trying. After the maid dies, the vampire-sorcerer-demon shares her blood with Stefan by kissing him. That’s close enough for Mercy, and she tries to rip out his throat. She manages only part way. The vampire heals himself and hurls her across the room.

Reader Comments: This was the scariest villain I’d read up to date. Too bad Mercy didn’t successfully kill him, but then, I suppose we wouldn’t have had a story then.

Writer Comments: Briggs keeps up her hint dropping, but she does something even better in this scene. No heroine worth her salt could stand by while such an evil creature taunted her friend and then brutally slaughtered and fed on an innocent human. So she lets Mercy try to do something, but she makes it impossible for her to succeed by use of the leash Mercy agreed to put on earlier. Yet the leash isn’t contrived. It’s perfectly logical, which makes it all the more effective.

Chapter 2

Mercy wakes up on her couch to the sounds of tension rising between Stefan and Samuel, her werewolf roommate and once love. Samuel, also a doctor, examines her and determines she has neither broken bones nor a concussion, despite the horrid pain in her head. Stefan brings her a glass of orange juice to counteract dehydration from the vampire bite on her neck, a revelation that nearly sends Samuel to ripping him to shreds, but Mercy plays helpless and whimpers to keep Samuel contained. As Mercy explains what happened, Stefan confesses that Littleton apparently altered his memories so that he recalled killing the hotel maid himself, a possibility which disturbed him. After, Stefan requests two additional favors: first, that Mercy tell his mistress all this so that she’ll believe Stefan and not kill him for losing control and slaughtering a human. Second, he asks that she allow him to sleep somewhere dark in her house since dawn is rising. Mercy grants both favors, though the first reluctantly.

Reader Comments: I love how Mercy manipulates Samuel. For all he’s a dominant wolf, he’s such a pushover when it comes to her. Whatever Bran, his father, said in the last book, I can’t believe that he doesn’t love Mercy.

Writer Comments: This chapter is a lot of information and piecing things together and review. All of that could be boring if a writer wasn’t careful. So Briggs uses another element to keep it interesting. She loads the chapter with conflict: Samuel and Stefan’s game of subtle and not so subtle aggression, Mercy feeling awful from her injuries, Mercy wanting comfort from Samuel’s presence while also trying to discourage his obsessive protectiveness, learning that Mercy was bitten, and the revelation that if Mercy does not help Stefan prove his story is true, his mistress will kill him. On top of that, she also reveal’s Mercy’s mental state. For all Mercy is tough and holding it together pretty well, she still is physically weak, horrified by what she witnessed, and ends up vomiting at the memory and being covered in the hotel maid’s blood. She even insists out of desperation that Stefan use a blanket and pillow while he’s sleeping, not dead, no not that, in her closet.

Thank you for joining me for this read of Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs. We’ll continue next Monday on this book. Until then, I hope to see you back Wednesday and Friday for more forays into the speculative and life.

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