Series: Mercy Thompson shorts
Published by Ace on September 2, 2014
Genres: Adult SFF, Urban Fantasy
My Reviews in this series: Moon Called, Night Broken
*This book was provided by the Publisher for review. No compensation was provided and all opinions are strictly my own.
Mercy Thompson’s world just got a whole lot bigger…
A collection of all-new and previously published short stories featuring Mercy Thompson, “one of the best heroines in the urban fantasy genre today” (Fiction Vixen Book Reviews), and the characters she calls friends…
Includes the new stories…
“Roses in Winter”
…and reader favorites
“Alpha and Omega”
“The Star of David”
“In Red, with Pearls”
Overall Shifting Shadows was an excellent collection. For fans of the Mercy Thompson universe this collection is well worth picking up. Before the start of each story the author includes a little introduction for that particular story. Whether it was a personal anecdote, some history and where that story takes place in the Mercy universe timeline of books.
Some of the characters were ones that readers are well acquainted with and a few others I didn’t recognize at all. With any series I’m reading after awhile ancillary characters have a way of fading into the background of my mind if there wasn’t something about them that made them really stand out. With single author short story collections in a specific world I’ve noticed they use the shorts as an opportunity to feature these ancillary characters in some way, which I definitely enjoy but I know I prefer reading about the more prominent secondary characters more. As evidenced by how I rated and felt about each story.
This is Samuel and Ariana’s story for the most part but also the story of how Samuel and Bran became werewolves and their enslavement to Bran’s mother. Lover’s of the series will gobble this one up as we only got hints and halves of what took place between Ariana and Samuel and the events that drew them so close together and yet also kept them so far apart. It’s a sad and aching story as Ariana’s and Samuel’s individual histories are definitely heart wrenching, so those coupled with this tragic love really tears at you.
The lead in this story is a vampire named Thomas Hao and how he returns to his hometown after being called there with fae magic by someone that once saved him, and he once saved. I honestly don’t remember if he was ever in any of the books. I’ve been reading these shorts out of order based on length of story and how much time I have at that given time to read before say going to bed. Perhaps I should have read this one while I wasn’t quite so tired because there is a bit of time jumping back and forth between present day and Thomas’ past. It made for a confusing and disjointed story. I either love or hate flashbacks and in this case you can tell my leanings. Sometimes when meeting a new character in a short I become instantly engrossed in their character and story but unfortunately that wasn’t the case with Thomas. The story felt to me like it was being told in this aloof way that left me feeling so outside of the story and completely uninterested in Thomas personally.
The character featured in this short is a vampire named Elyna who has recently moved back to Chicago and purchased the condo/apartment that she used to live in with her husband when she was human over 80 years ago. She is worried that she will be discovered by the local master vampire who is very violent to trespassing vampires and she hasn’t gotten permission to live in the city. But that worry isn’t enough to keep her from her old home and the memories that draw her there. The condo is also rumored to be haunted by a ghost of a man murdered there some 80 years ago (coincidence?) but Elyna still manages to hire a crew of contractors to slowly fix the place up. It’s a slow moving story but still touching. I don’t recall ever encountering this particular vampire/character in the Mercy series so this one while in the same world doesn’t add anything to either of the main series plot lines. but was still pretty enjoyable.
This story happens to be the first short story I read in this universe and because of that probably one of my favorites. It first appeared in a collection titled Strange Brew edited by P.N. Elrod that is packed full of excellent shorts all featuring witches in some way. Seeing Eye features a white witch named Moira. It’s a pretty harsh tale and I was surprised by how dark of a turn it took and yet managed to still be uplifting by the end. The witches in the Mercyverse draw their power from pain and suffering, so how would a white witch every hope to stand against them?
ALPHA AND OMEGA
This story takes place at the same time the book Moon Called (book 1 of Mercy Thompson) and introduces the two characters, Anna and Charles, that star in the spin-off Alpha and Omega series set in the same world. Anna is the newest wolf in the Chicago pack and is treated terribly by everyone. Sexually, physically and mentally abused by her pack, they even take her paychecks. But when Anna sees a snip-it in the newspaper about a young man she knows was attacked by a member of her pack and made into a wolf she takes a chance and calls The Marrok. The Marrok had already been suspecting something odd was going on in Chicago and had already dispatched his son Charles to investigate but this new development with Anna changes Charles plans somewhat and he now has to protect her as well. While I always have some gripes about the “insta-mate” bond that sometimes takes place in werewolf driven urban fantasies I have come to accept that as part of the nature of the werewolf magic and just roll with it. So I definitely enjoyed this introduction to the relationship between these two characters and of course I love their books.
THE STAR OF DAVID
David is an old army buddy of Adam’s who upon returning from war doesn’t want to be a werewolf. Instead of having a pack he runs a group of mercenaries that rescue people from dangerous situations. This story gives us a closer look at him and his longtime estrangement from his daughter. She’s all grown up, works as a social worker and has called upon him after decades of silence, for help with a situation involving one of the kids she cares for.
ROSES IN WINTER
This story stars Asil, The Moor. He seems to think he’s close to death and that he’ll go mad soon. So he put himself under the packrule of Bran so that someone strong enough will be there when that happens. He’s kept himself from developing any attachments since joining the pack in Montana but a young teenage girl named Kara, the youngest person he’s ever known to survive the change has started to worm her way into his heart. This was such a touching story and definitely one of my favorites in the collection.
IN RED, WITH PEARLS
So I like cowboys – and Warren, heck he’s one of my favorite characters in the book but then if I think about it I could name a few others – this world is packed with great characters. In this one Warren is our star, he has a nifty new private investigator’s license and has been working for his boyfriend Kyle’s law firm for a short while now. One night it just so happens someone sends a zombie to kill Kyle and Warren enlists the help of a local witch to help him track down the culprits.
The star of this story is Ben, the British women hating barrel full of swear words. But he’s got a bet going to see if he can last a week without swearing. In this story we see him in his workplace where folks don’t know he’s a werewolf, just that he’s a huge grouch. As we all know that have been reading the series, Ben hates women so things get interesting when his department’s squeaky sweet little Secretary gets sexually harassed by someone in the office and Ben with reasons unbeknownst to him starts stepping in. Ben is one of my favorite characters, he’s deliciously broken and I can’t wait to see more of his story and character in future books.
This one features Mercy shortly after the events of Night Broken. Mercy is asked by a local gardener/groundskeeper for help getting rid of a ghost of her employer. This particular ghost is different and way stronger than ones Mercy has seen in the past. It seems Mercy just can’t stay out of trouble for long.
OUTTAKE FROM SILVER BORNE
A sweet moment between Ariana and Samuel that takes place during the book Silver Borne while they are all searching for the entrance to the fey Elphame where Mercy is being held prisoner. This scene is pretty much where Ariana and Samuel decide to start dating. Told from Ariana’s point of view.
OUTTAKE FROM NIGHT BROKEN
This is a scene in the hospital at the end of Night Broken from Adam’s perspective. He heads to the cafeteria and runs into Coyote then goes back up to Mercy’s room to tuck her into bed. While it was a nice little scene I don’t feel like it added any memorable moments to any of the story lines or subplots.