As we draw near to the end of Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs, the stakes are high. All Mercy’s friends are wounded, missing, dead, or barred from helping her, and she only has until dark to find and rescue Adam and Samuel, the two men after her heart, before the vampire-sorcerer-demon kills them.
Mercy returns to Stefan’s menagerie for more information about how vampire politics works to further sort out her suspicion that one of Mistress Marsilia’s vampires might have made Littleton, the vampire-sorcerer-demon, and is using him to cause her trouble. While there, Mercy meets Daniel’s ghost, who tells her that Littleton ate him. She also learns that only five vampires are strong enough to live on their own outside the seethe: Stefan, Andre, Estelle, Bernard, and the Wizard. But Mercy has to leave before all her questions are answered because not all Stefan’s food is pleased with her presence.
Reader Comments: In this scene, Daniel is particularly creepy. Prior to this, whenever he made an appearance, he was sort of weak and pathetic, but I suppose being eternally caught in the horrifying moment of being eaten alive would make anyone creepy.
Writer Comments: Part of the reason this scene works as well as it does is that Briggs took the time to flesh out Stefan’s menagerie. Naomi, Rachel, Joey, Daniel, and I suspect even Ford are all fully three-dimensional with motivations, goals, fears, and histories that impact their reactions and choices on the page. It’s also because of this that Mercy successfully and believably connects with them. Don’t neglect your supporting characters.
Still with no idea where to search for Littleton, Mercy returns to Adam’s house in hopes that Warren is awake enough to communicate. But Warren is healing far slower than he should, and the other werewolves are on edge. Mercy sends Darryl out of the room with instructions to eat, since hungry werewolves are grumpy werewolves. While he’s gone, she and Kyle manage a few details from Warren, who can’t exactly speak yet but can nod a fraction and force out the ghost of a word or two. Apparently, Samuel got a call the previous night from Littleton. He and Adam left immediately and walked right into Littleton’s trap. All Warren heard about the location was “Church.” Mercy lets Warren go back to sleep after this and asks Darryl why he thinks the vampires are so concerned that she can see ghosts. He has no idea; after all, ghosts avoid evil, but that’s exactly the information Mercy needs. Mercy recalls Mrs. Hanna, the ghost that always walks past Mercy’s shop, changed her route recently. As the pieces start falling into place, Tony calls Mercy with the results of checking the daytime instances of violence. They’re almost all in Kennewick, very near the police department and Mercy’s garage.
Reader Comments: I’d forgotten most of this from my previous read, so I was much like the first time I read it, hanging on every moment to figure out where in the world Littleton was. I’d remembered Mrs. Hanna had something to do with it, but not the specifics. Oh, and I loved Mercy staring Darryl down until he looked away. Her willingness to stand up to anyone she needs to is one of her more awesome traits.
Writer Comments: This chapter is where all the clues start coming together: Mrs. Hanna, Daniel, the map of violent crimes, etc. All of these were woven into the previous chapters seamlessly. To pull this off, every clue that Mercy uses at this point serves a dual or triple purpose when it’s first introduced. Mrs. Hanna, for example, displays Mercy’s ability to see ghosts, highlights Mercy’s romantic problems, gives Briggs an opportunity to explain how ghosts work in her world, and provides the thread Mercy later needs to track down Littleton. Well, that’s four purposes, which means that it is thoroughly embedded into the foundation of the story.
Mercy finds Mrs. Hanna and learns that Joe, the man who told Mrs. Hanna to change her route, is a janitor at a church, but it isn’t the name of any church in Kennewick. Nearly out of daylight and hope, Mercy calls Gabriel, her part time help at the shop, who has a sister familiar with local ghost stories. The sister tells Mercy that years ago a janitor died in a church, and his ghost continued there. Since, the church was sold for a private school and someone committed suicide inside. Now, it lies abandoned. Mercy rushes back to her shop and types up all she knows and her plans for Bran, the leader of all the North American werewolves, to find when he gets to town. Unlike everyone else who went after Littleton, she wants people to know how to find her. She checks her email while she waits for Andre to show up and help and finds one message from the reporter whose daughter is a werewolf and who agreed to help her find information on Littleton. He didn’t find much, but one of the pictures he sent was of Littleton talking to someone: Andre.
When Andre arrives, Mercy gets in the car with him because she believes he wants Littleton dead as much as she does. They find the old church, desecrated from the suicide and thus a perfect hideaway for a demon. When they arrive, Littleton is nowhere in sight. They enter and search for the wolves. At last, they find them in the basement where everyone, all three werewolves and Stefan, are held in cages secured by magic. Only Adam is still in control among the wolves, and Ben desperately wants to eat Mercy. Before Andre or Mercy can find a way to free them, Littleton returns. He takes complete control of Andre, using him like a puppet, and when Mercy annoys him, hits her. She wakes lying several feet away. Littleton has Ben and Andre fighting but, not liking the view, decides to take them upstairs where he can watch the slaughter from the choir loft. When he leaves, Stefan asks Mercy to come to his cage, but she can’t move. He asks if she can look at him at least, and when she does, he commands her using his vampire tricks. She comes despite the pain, despite Adam hurling himself against his cage in rage at what Stefan’s doing, and she sticks her fingers into the cage. Stefan pricks one and begins to drink.
Reader Comments: It was awesome that Adam was the only wolf in control. At least to me, it meant big points in his favor for ultimately being deserving of Mercy’s love.
Writer Comments: This chapter is all about delays to allow the ultimate climax and a possibility for the good guys to win. It would have been easy for Littleton to go ahead and kill Mercy then and there. It would have assured his ultimate victory. But Briggs couldn’t allow that and still have her story resolution. Instead, she severely injures Mercy and ups the tension by having Mercy do things she would not normally do: look into a vampire’s eyes and surrender to his control. But to accomplish all this, Briggs has to get Littleton out of the room. Complaining he can’t see the fight properly, while it technically might fit into his controlling and bloodthirsty nature, is not all that compelling, yet it serves its purpose, clearing the way for the heroine to do and be what she must to triumph.
Thank you for joining me for Part 6 of our reading of Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs. Join me next Monday for the next two chapters in this reread and Wednesday and Friday for further forays into the speculative and life.