Patricia Briggs has been one of my favourite authors of a long time. Her Mercy Thompson Series brought a kindred spirit in a strong female protagonist who is passionately independent yet dependable for her allies. Another piece of Brigg’s writing I enjoy is how she enfolds Native American Folklore into her stories. Mercy’s father’s history is shrouded in mystery, other than he was a cowboy. Beyond that, she only knew he was from Browning, Montana, which made Mercy believe he was of Blackfeet descent. Her introduction of Coyote in River Marked, opened my eyes to the importance of tricksters as a flaunter of the rule and laws of humanity and nature.
My first post of the Mercy Thompson series, found here, focused on Mercy as a character, and I shared my favourite stories in the series. This time I was to share why I love River Marked, her usage of Native American folklore, and the realization I grew up surrounded by their history and took it for granted.
Locations for rock carvings were almost always places of power or mystery—places where the forces of nature were believed to be especially strong.
Petroglyph Park, BC Parks, Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada
As an adult, and an anthropologist, I have learned the value of storytelling and its importance in culture. There is a mix of carvings representing animals; both real and supernatural, wolves and sea wolves, mythical creatures who were part wolf and part killer-whale. Much like the River Devil, “the creature’s face looked a little like a fox—a mutant fox with very big teeth and tentacles. Its body was snakelike. It was like a cross between a Chinese dragon and a fox with the teeth of a wolf eel.” – Patricia Briggs, River Marked
Sea Wolves, at Petroglyph Park, BC Parks, Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada
The Great Spirit sent coyote to help the first people who lived near the river. The people were lost and the great river monster was there and wanted to eat him. Coyote, being a trickster, hatched a plan to free the first people from the monster while making it promise to eat no one. In the book, the river monster is back, woken by the fae, and is extremely hungry.
Mercy, with her new husband, Adam, was enjoying alone time on their honeymoon when they came upon the problem. Sent by the fae, warned by Coyote, Mercy will do whatever it takes to beat the River Devil. The story mixes American Indian folklore with European Folklore in a beautiful action story where Mercy and Adam’s life together might end before the honeymoon.
Fully of sarcasm, humour, pain, and trust, the story is character-driven as Mercy deals with the changes in her life while marked by a mythic monster who wants to consume us all. While learning more about who her father really is.
I loved this book as Mercy and Adam do not have the support of the vampires, the fae, or the werewolves at their side. Instead, they learn more about Mercy’s history and the strength of the Great Spirit and Coyote. Mercy handles herself well, and Adam is always there to support her as she comes face to face to the mystery behind her father and his death. It was a beautiful book with vivid descriptions of petroglyphs, pictograms, and history-rich in the blood of the North American Indian Nations.
I have added the area to my bucket list of places to visit and explore in Washington State. Here is a little peek of the Stonehenge setting in the book. Have you visited the area? Have you visited the museum, Stonehenge or Petroglyphs? If so, I would love to hear your stories.
Read the whole series, it is worth it. I can’t wait for the next installation.