Friday, March 4, 2011

River Marked – the Mercedes Thompson series, Book 6

Native American Folklore & Suspense

Books: First five books in the series. 
1.      Moon Called (2006)
2.      Blood Bound (2007)
3.      Iron Kissed (2008)
4.      Bone Crossed (2009)
5.      Silver Borne (2010)
6.      River Marked (2011) – 4 out of 5

Author:   Patricia Briggs 
Narrator:   Lorelei King - 5 out of 5

Mercy Thompson is a VW mechanic who lives in an old trailer in the Washington State Tri-Cities area.  She's also a half-Native American “walker” – a natural-borne coyote shapeshifter who can talk to the dead.  For all of her almost 30 years of life, Mercy thought she was the last of her kind having learned that vampires rendered walkers all but extinct. In her life, Mercy never met her father or his people.  In River Marked, this changes.

In the beginning of River Marked, Mercy is finally mated to Adam, her sexy alpha werewolf neighbor for the past 10 years.  Mercy’s friends and family orchestrate a surprise wedding for her, and Adam – her now husband and mate – surprises her with a honeymoon in the forest at the Columbia Gorge.  He borrowed the trailer and the idea from Uncle Mike and, as Mercy points out, you can never trust the fae.  Mercy is right. There is something in the Columbia River.  It is an ancient water-monster, insatiable and horrifying – very cthulhu.  And it wants Mercy. 

Native American Folklore & Suspense:
I’ve previously reviewed the first 5 audiobooks in this series here. As I pointed out, Patricia Briggs does an incredible job researching and weaving in historical folklore, especially with regard to the faeries who in Mercy’s world have revealed themselves to the public. We’ve seen every kind of fairy in the prior books, but we haven’t seen any Native American folklore, with the exception of Mercy herself.  This audiobook delves right in. River Marked includes the different tribes in the Washington area (Mercy is half Blackfeet), and includes the spirit animals of Thunderbird, Snake, Wolf, so on and so forth, and, of course, Coyote.  We learn a lot about Mercy as she learns a lot about herself.

River Marked starts out much slower than the previous books.  After the wedding, there is a ton of information.  The action builds up a lot slower and the result is haunting suspense.  Unlike the previous books, parts of River Marked aren’t just entertaining but down-right terrifying.  In one part, for example, Mercy hears about the death of a girl whose brother tries to save her.  The girl says “it’s so peaceful here” and then the brother discovers her body below her waist has been ripped off.  The way it’s described in the audiobook is nightmare-inducing.  The prior books had scary moments and scary monsters, but they didn’t haunt you like these scenes.

On Narration:
This is what makes a great audiobook: great writing plus great reading. I’ve already gushed about how much I love the way Lorelei King narrates the Mercy Thompson series here. She doesn’t disappoint in River Marked.  I mention above that parts are very suspenseful, and that’s a result of the way the book is read.  One example is a scene in third-person that recounts the river monster taking over a school teacher who leads her family to their death in the river.  In the middle of this dream, Lorelei King adds Adam’s voice, disjointing the dream with “Mercy” over and over again, while the narration ignores him until Mercy wakes up.   When this scene began, I thought I was in a different audiobook.  Lorelei King reads the scene with a new voice, giving life to a new character and her new family.  It is exactly how the scene should be read.  Then, when Adam’s voice starts breaking in to the internal dialogue, it brings not only Mercy back to her reality, but the listener back into River Marked. It becomes obvious that the scene is a dream. I recommend listening to that specific scene twice just because of how technically perfect the reading is.


  1. I LOVE this author and her books! I'm glad you reviewed the audio book, I have been listening to a bunch of new books and I'm always worried that the people narrating are going to ruin it for me.

  2. Ive never tried an audio book before, I listened to one once while at work at Borders Books and Music for New Moon and it sounded annoying. I liked your comment on how the narrator did Adams voice it makes me interested to hear.

  3. Kristen - you are so right. The enjoyability of an audiobook depends almost entirely on the way it's read. has samples of the book on its site, if you want to check it out! Also, some audiobooks (not Mercy Thompson ones, but still) have production elements. Like, the first (and best) Anita Blake books have honest-to-goodness sound effects, like gunshots and footsteps and the like. It’s really well done!


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