River Marked is a half and half book: half the readers adore the intricate, in depth look into both Mercy and Adam’s relationship and the detailed discovery of Mercy’s heritage; the other half of the readers want Adam to stop being a love sick puppy, get Mercy to stop analyzing her and Adam’s every moves, and focus more on the Pack and local life. I am on the fence. When I read the book the first time, I enjoyed it. The River Monster was interesting, I liked that Adam and Mercy finally had time to themselves, and I loved that we finally get to know what Mercy is since her heritage has been mentioned or alluded to since the very first book. When I picked up the book a second time a few weeks later, I realized that my enthusiastic opinion of the book was mostly my satisfaction at having my Mercy crave eased a bit. Upon further inspection, I realized that Briggs tried to make Mercy’s heritage into a character itself, and that caused some seriously slow and somewhat boring parts. I also wish that we could have read more about Bran and the Pack rather than just Mercy and Adam; I miss the old characters (though some do make appearances).
At the beginning of the book, we get to witness Mercy and Adam’s wedding and all of the lavish details Briggs throw in. Then we get to the meat of the story which is their honeymoon. It’s on this honeymoon, away from the Pack and their complex politics, that Mercy saves a man from a River Monster and thus starts the search to discover just what the monster is and how it can be stopped. Along the way, Mercy discovers details about not only her heritage but also about her dad and just what that means for her. Each discovery is like unlocking another part of the puzzle and mystery of not just Mercy but of Brigg’s created universe.
All around, it was such a hard book to rate. Briggs is a great writer, so anything she does is going to be of quality work. At the same time, there wasn’t enough meat to this story to really make me feel full and satisfied after reading it. Of course I’ll pick up the next installment and hopefully it will have remnants of the first Mercy Thompson novels. I don’t think having Mercy and Adam still sniffing around each other in book six would have worked, but there has to be a better way of keeping that anticipatory feeling alive. Enjoy.
- Reading level: Ages 18 and up
- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Ace Books; 1st edition (March 1, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0441019730
- ISBN-13: 978-0441019731