Summer Shorts - Dead Book Darling - Puppy!
Summer Shorts is weekly feature of short story/novella reviews, posted every Saturday of July and August, 2011. Every week has a different theme – be it featuring a specific anthology, a particular genre, or a great author.

Last week I reviewed two stories from the fantastic on-line science fiction magazine Lightspeed. This week, I’m reviewing two fantastic tales – one novella, one short story – by one of my favourite authors: Patricia Briggs.

If you don’t know Ms. Briggs, you should remedy that immediately! She writes the fantastic Mercy Thompson series – which features werewolves, coyotes, the best vampires ever written, mechanics, trailers, and some scary, scary fey. Both of these stories are set in that verse.

Alpha and Omega by Patricia Briggs

(Novella featured in the On the Prowl anthology.)

Thoughts: So, I started reading Cry Wolf – the first novel in Briggs’ series about Anna and Charles – and remembered that there was a story that came before the novel: Alpha and Omega. I put the book aside at page 50, and picked up Alpha and Omega. And now? Now I am trying to work out new ways to say “wow”.

Patricia Briggs is an amazing writer. She writes stunning, character driven novels without having to go over-the-top with the style of her prose. This talent transcends into her short stories flawlessly. Alpha and Omega tells the story of the first meeting between werewolves Charles (Samuel’s brother, if you read the Mercy Thompson series) and Anna. Anna has been the victim of her alpha and her Chicago pack, who changed her against her will, raped her and kept her at the edge of starvation. Needless to say, she is not in a good place when we meet her.

Knowing that, how on earth could Briggs consider throwing her into a relationship with Charles, whose wolf immediately chooses Anna to be his mate? Instant mating for an abuse victim? How is that supposed to feel realistic? Well, Briggs manages. Aiding her in the plot development are the jumps between different points of view. Unlike her Mercy novels, Alpha and Omega is told by both Anna and Charles – so we see how uncomfortable they both are with the new connection. Knowing that Charles is truly a stand-up wolf makes it easy to root for him.

Bottom line? While Alpha and Omega is the first installment in Briggs’ Anna and Charles series, it wraps up well. There’s no need to read Cry Wolf afterwards but I am certain you’ll want to!

The Star of David by Patricia Briggs

(Featured in the Wolfsbane and Mistletoe anthology.)

Thoughts: Oh, Ms. Briggs. I absolutely love you and wish you didn’t have to eat or sleep so that you could spend dedicate more of your life to writing. *pines*

So, The Star of David. First off: it is (mostly) narrated by a man – a werewolf man. It’s the first time I’ve ever read anything by Briggs not narrated by a woman and it wasn’t until I’d finished that I realised that there might have been a difference. There isn’t. Briggs rocks any gender. Second thing you should know: while it is set in the Mercy/Alpha and Omega verse, it stars all new characters. If you’ve never read any Briggs, you can read The Star of David and not worry about a thing.

There’s a tonne of action, emotional drama, and character angst in The Star of David. It’s a much shorter tale than Alpha and Omega – a real short story. And yet Briggs still manages to get more than enough in. I’d love to meet David again in one of her other novels (although I might have and just don’t remember). He’s a mercenary, sure, but he is also such a delicate puppy under all that fur.

Bottom line? Another brilliant tale by Patricia Briggs. Her werewolf series is an absolute gem – short stories included!

Next week… stories from the special YA edition of Subterranean Magazine!
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