Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Hey, everybody else is also eager for the 8th Mercy Thompson book, right?

Because Liz Bourke has a review over at tor.com.

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Very exciting! Yay!

Liz finds this one a solid installment overall, but she is not too keen on the annoying-feminine-woman trope that appears in this book, in the person of Adam’s ex:

“Well, it plays into a pattern that frames women as competing with each other for men, or that frames one woman as maliciously jealous of another over a man. A pattern, moreover, that values femininity less than it values competence in traditionally masculine areas of enterprise. Christy is feminine in traditional ways, and is a weak selfish person. Mercy is not feminine in traditional ways—in many ways, she’s “one of the boys”—and is a strong good person. It’s a narrative pattern I find pernicious, and one that sets my teeth on edge.”

Fair enough, and come to think of it there really are a lot of female characters in this story who are just not . . . just not . . . ah, I have it. They are not nice people. They are not good people, either. Bran’s wife, say. I like Honey, but only sort of; I would like to see her develop in interesting, complicated ways and so far she just hasn’t. What’s the name of that woman who got suckered into Paul’s get-Mercy conspiracy? Not that she is a typical feminine woman, so there’s that. But, yeah, there are not very many nice women in this series. I could do with Mercy having one or two solid woman friends, including, yes, traditionally feminine women.

It’s true that Christy was already presented (in absentia) as shallow and selfish. But it might have been nice to make her more complicated and maybe more sympathetic once she stepped onstage. Mind you, I will forgive this flaw because I really love the series overall.

You know who’s good at taking a character (male or female), presenting them as selfish, cruel, or whatever, and then bringing them onstage and turning that initial impression on its head?

Got anybody in mind?

Barbara Hambly. It’s something she does often enough that when I read the first “Barbara Hamilton” mystery, having forgotten it was really by Barbara Hambly, I pegged it as one of hers because of this exact trick. And her writing style, yes. But I was sure because of this trick with character. I will just add, in case you decide to look up these mysteries — with Abigail Adams as the protagonist — they are good as historical novels, but the mysteries are not very mysterious. I don’t much care about that, but just in case that bothers you in mysteries.

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4 Comments Hey, everybody else is also eager for the 8th Mercy Thompson book, right?

  1. Pete+Mack

    I actually liked Briggs’ non-urban fantasy books better. Also: one change really jumps out at me in this series: Mercy’s boobs are a LOT bigger!

  2. Elaine T

    I’m also very fond of both Brigg’s Dragon duo and the Raven duo. The latter even has a functional family featured. There’s a fair amount of people telling each other things in it, but I find even those parts interesting. Consider that I’m also really fond of the Council of Elrond chapter in LOTR, I guess it follows. Well written exposition is well written exposition.

    One of these days I’ll try the first Mercy Thompson again, I bounced off when I tried it a while back.

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