Kitty and the Silver Bullet by Carrie Vaughn
Kitty’s been having a rough time lately. Her friend and ally Cormac is in prison for saving her life, which is putting stress not only on her but also on her relationship with her lover, Cormac’s cousin Ben, who is a new werewolf. She has been feeling unwell, which is almost unprecedented in her experience as a werewolf. It turns out to be a miscarriage; she finds out that werewolves almost never carry to term. Her old friend Rick, a vampire, is planning a coup against the Master Vampire of Denver and wants Kitty to help him. But Kitty can’t go back to Denver without herself having to battle the Alphas of her old pack, the two whose threats sent her from Denver in the first place. And her mother’s in the hospital, and may have cancer. That bit of news sends Kitty running back to Denver, and straight into the trouble she was hoping to avoid.
To some extent, this feels like the last book in the Kitty series, though it isn’t. By the end it feels like Kitty’s story arc is complete, since it seems to me to be about her maturity from the “cub” that she was in the first book. And, of course, the first book is about leaving home; this book is about both coming home, and making a home for yourself. Highly recommended.
Iron Kissed: a Mercy Thompson novel by Patricia Briggs
And, of course, that last sentence is necessary because a sexual assault on a major character is a major part of the plot in Iron Kissed. This book may be triggery for people with issues in re: sexual assault; I myself had issues with it, about which more below.
Having dealt at length with werewolves and vampires in the last two books, Briggs now shows us the culture of the third major supernatural race in her series: the Fae. As we know from the first book, Mercy learned her trade at the hands of one of the Fae, a gremlin who worked on German automobiles exclusively. When the Fae came out of the closet, he was one of their exemplars; he set Mercy up in the business and now lives on a reservation with many of the rest of the known fae. “Iron Kissed”, or “one of the iron-kissed” is how he is described in the book.
Anyway, Zee, the above-mentioned mentor, asks Mercy to do him the favour of checking out some murder scenes on the Faerie reserve. They haven’t been reported to the police; the fae are allowed to police themselves and they have their own plans for the murderer, if they can find him/her. Long story short, Mercy figures out who it was . . . but when Zee and another Fae get there to “talk” to him, he’s already dead. And Zee is caught by the cops and charged with his murder. Mercy is ordered not to help him; the Grey Lords, the mysterious leaders of the Fae, want a quick resolution and are willing to throw Zee to the metaphorical wolves . . . but Mercy doesn’t take orders well, and she continues investigating. This puts her life in danger . . . and worse.
Side-stories include the resolution of the series’ central romantic triangle (more on that in a bit), and an assault on Mercy’s neighbour (and suitor), Adam’s daughter Jesse by a group of teenagers.
So, the good: Briggs’ faeirie lore is good, and she alters things to fit the story in credible ways. Even the best of the creatures she presents us with is dangerous; the worst are dark indeed.
She resolves the above-mentioned romantic triangle in the best possible way: both Mercy and the “loser” make positive choices, and the one she doesn’t choose isn’t turned into an asshole or villain of some kind (hello, Ms. Blake!). I have issues with the whole thing about choosing, though: Briggs has obviously stacked the deck so Mercy can’t have both; so my question is, who says she has to have either? Why can’t a woman be happy alone? (The same issue sometimes comes up in regard to male characters, but more rarely and less strongly)
And then, of course, there’s that sexual assault.
No discussion of that section of the book could be anything but spoilerous, so I’m constrained in regards to what I can say about it. I can’t tell you who it happens to, though I can say that it is a major character, not someone introduced for the purpose. I can’t tell you what happens; I can say that it’s an integral part of the story, not thrown in to shock. It does shock, though. It’s horrible and sad and I really, really don’t recommend this book for someone for whom rape scenes are apt to trigger bad reactions. I had some problems with it, but they are minor and have less to do with how the matter is handled than with the politics of it.
It’s a good book, but only cautiously recommended.