River Marked By Patricia Briggs
Balloons and Butterflies
Her mother wanted to do balloons, maybe dove. Defiantly not doves, but butterflies for Mercy's wedding to the head of the local werewolf pack, Adam. Mercy rolls her eyes at the thought of the pack trying not to eat the decorations.
Ever since the engagement, Mercy had been thinking about the best way to talk Adam into eloping in Patricia Brigg's sixth book in the Mercy Thompson books River Marked.
It turns out that everyone was in on the secret when Mercy walked into the church thinking that the only ones involved were Adam's teenage daughter, Jesse and their witnesses. Instead they had faced half the pack, and Mercy's mother...and balloons.
Sneaking out of the reception, Adam and Mercy take off in a borrowed trailer to the nearby campground owned by one of the Fae.
It wasn't more than a night into the celebration of their marriage when Mercy is suddenly presented with the real reason they have brought out to the spot after trying to rescue a man on a sinking boat.
Unclear what had taken a bite out of the man, Mercy pulled in vain to free his trapped leg, hoping not to need to amputate his foot just as something wrapped its acid laden tentacles around her waist and ankle and began to pull her under. Scream as she sought to free herself, Adam, shifted as a wolf bit into the rubbery strands that surrounded her and pulled Mercy to safety. The man was taken to the hospital and soon other Native people began to arrive. They knew more than they were letting on.
Mercy Thompson had always struggled to find where she fit in the world.
To other Native people she was too white, as her Caucasian mother's features had made her impression on her flawless face. Her long black hair was far from glossy and always was messy from either her work as a mechanic or running in her walker form as a coyote.
Growing up without the guidance of her father, Mercy's mother had sent her off to the nearest reservation after the first time she had shifted hoping that the Blackfeet people would know of someone else that was a skin walker and could help her learn her powers. The closest that she was presented was a werewolf pack that adopted her as one of their own but she was never really one of them even if her coyote was allowed to run with the pack when she changed.
Since moving as an adult and finding Adam and his pack, Mercy never felt one of the wolves even though she was the mate of the Alpha which commanded respect of the pack.
There is the darkness was a familiar man.
She knew his face from a photograph that her mother had as a teenager.
The Native man was chanting and staring at her, finally he shifted and ran off into the darkness. Mercy was sure he was a ghost as she saw them all the time but it still chilled her to the bone.
The man looked identical to the only photo she had ever seen of her father. But her father had passed in a car accident before she was born.
At least that was the story she had grown up knowing.
The presence of the other coyote made Mercy wonder if everything she knew about Joe Old Coyote was a lie that had been given to her teenage mother. If the man was truly her father there was so much she wanted to know from him and find out about herself after a life of being raised a coyote in a werewolf pack where she didn't belong.
The River And Her Secrets
Since the attack on the man at the riverside and the disappearance of a woman from the same spot, Mercy begins to beg the people around her for more information on what had taken place.
The Coyote had come to her again and Mercy wasn't sure that she trusted him though she wanted the man that reminded her so of her father to be the family that she had been looking for her whole life.
Told about the river devil that had made a pack with the local tribes, it had been summoned back to take victims.
The other Native people in the area were all avatars of some type, changing into Bear, Hawk, and even the otters in the river that sat watching with their wide eyes were identified as fae, Mercy learned after one attacked her.
The Coyote convinced Mercy that he is the old coyote spirit and that only one part of him had been the Joe Old Coyote that had been her father but that didn't make him her father.
Adam could see the disappointment in her eyes, but her knew that this knowledge wasn't enough to stop her from doing what needed to be done. Revealing to his bride that the fae had set up for them to be in the trailer at the spot where they were camping had all been a set up, Mercy begins to feel a bit used.
What should have been a happy honeymoon was instead filled with solving the mystery of an angry river devil that was eating innocent people.
Hostages And Acceptance
After a young school teacher was killed by the river devil it began calling to Mercy, more so after it had taken two young children and was holding them as collateral.
Knowing she had to get the children back, even though Adam wanted her to put her safety above all others, Mercy raced into action.
The Coyote had told Mercy a story about sisters that he carried around inside him, reminding her of her spirit quest she had been as a teenage. Convinced that she should seek the wisdom, Hawk, Coyote, and Bear watch on and convince Adam to stay in werewolf form during the quest.
She sees herself standing with three women of various tribes, the sisters.
They tell Mercy what she has been looking to hear her whole life and finally she begins to feel acceptance as she finds her place among Native people.
Understanding why part of Coyote is her father now, Mercy is intent on finding a common bond with the man after they are done defeating the river devil.
Not the way a honeymoon should end, Mercy writes a letter to Adam that if he is reading this after she is hospitalized then something has happened that she wasn't able to walk away from this time.
Mercy has been marked by the river devil and even though it is temporarily hidden back to its confines, it will be loose again one day. Coyote spends time with Mercy in the hospital and she begins to feel OK again about her blossoming relationship with the part of him that is her father.
Still she writes to Adam that if she doesn't find her way back to him she wants him to always know that she loves him and wants him to find strength in moving forward with his life.
River Marked really is focused on how Mercy feels about herself, something that had been played up in the other novels about how she never quite fit in with the wolves that had been her only family or the Native people around that felt she was never really one of them as she is too White.
After talking to the sisters, Mercy is finally comfortable in her skin and fur as a coyote so that is a big move forward for this character as the series progresses into the next few books.