Frost Burned is the seventh book in the Mercy Thompson urban fantasy series by Patricia Briggs. There are also three full-length novels and one novella in the companion series Alpha and Omega, making this the eleventh prose installment overall in this universe.
Mercy, a shape-shifter living in the Tri-Cities of Washington, has recovered from the events of her honeymoon, and is dealing with the fey cutting all contact with humans following the events in Fair Game (Alpha and Omega). That is, until her husband Adam and the rest of the werewolf pack are abducted. Mercy needs to rally what forces she can to get them back in one piece and figure out who is behind the plot.
A middle novel
In every series, there are books that don’t change the game but fill in small details and explore dark corners of the universe. Most of the time, these books are laying the groundwork for the next game-changing novel. That’s what Frost Burned is. There aren’t a lot of changes for Mercy and Adam that happen as a result of this novel. Rather than major shifts in character, characters are, instead, further refined. We find out a little more about characters we don’t see often, and there are a few plots with side characters that reach their next step while a few new ones begin. But there’s nothing ground breaking or earth shattering here.
That’s not to say that Frost Burned is not an entertaining or worthwhile read. In order to have “peak” books, you must have slower “valley” books. There are surprises in store for you as the book shows what allies Mercy can find, how those allies interact with each other, and who the main villain of the book is. I won’t say more than that for fear of giving it away, but this book is set up to be the start of a longer, universe-wide plot arc, even as Mercy’s personal life calms down for a bit.
Really about the secondary characters
From time to time, I enjoy it when an author gives some spotlight to secondary characters. And Briggs shines the light on a lot of them in Frost Burned while still leaving Mercy prominently in the role of protagonist. Not only do these secondary characters make appearances, but many of them get to grow and change as characters. It’s so easy as an author to have secondary character growth happen offstage, and it’s wonderful to read an author who’s not afraid to have it happen on the page. And to manage the growth of multiple secondary characters at the same time without losing track of the main plot? Brilliant. If you’re expecting a messy book from what I just said, don’t. Briggs runs a tight ship even when the whole team is on the page. And for fans of Alpha and Omega, there’s even a secondary cross-over character who gets some serious page time.
Why should you read this book?
Patricia Briggs has fairly earned her place as one of the cornerstone authors of urban fantasy. While Mercy Thompson is not one of the longest or oldest series out there, it is one of the best-selling. For lovers of urban fantasy, I and many others would list Briggs as a must-read. That being said, this is the eleventh book between two intertwined series. If you haven’t read at the very least the majority of the previous Mercy books, you will be lost. I would also highly recommend a quick read of Fair Game, if not all of the other Alpha and Omega titles. You’ll be richly rewarded if you do, and a bit lost if you don’t.