Blood Bound is the second instalment to Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson urban fantasy series. Where the first book, Moon Called had Mercy and readers thick in the world of the werewolves in the Tri-State area, Blood Bound takes a trip through the vampire communities. Moon Called was enjoyable in a junk-food-for-the-brain kind of way, but like so much junk food, Blood Bound isn’t really worth the bad that comes with the all too little good.
Having helped rescue the Alpha werewolf’s daughter in Moon Called, Blood Bound sees Mercy (Mercy is a “Walker” by the way, a type of supernatural being that shapeshifts from human into coyote), enlisted by the vampire seethe to help track and kill a sorcerer – a demon possessed vampire – that has been terrorising the city.
The idea of the sorcerer was a nice touch, but overall felt underdeveloped and ultimately pointless. Here’s a hybrid terror with dark magic even the most powerful vampires can’t defeat, nor the most powerful werewolves, and yet, Mercy can. Yes, she had the aid of the goblin’s magic tools for decapitating and setting alight, and granted the vampire part of this sorcerer equation is young and therefore weak, but Mercy’s victory just didn’t add up at all. Considering the entire book built to it, there wasn’t a lot to redeem this novel after that glaring improbability. That Mercy then went off to kill the powerful vampire who had made the sorcerer, was an enormous stretch in both plot and character that just didn’t work.
In the early parts of the book where the idea of the sorcerer is being established, Briggs does start some interesting thoughts about the nature of evil. What’s true evil? Is it born? Is it created? More of this kind of storytelling would have strengthened Blood Bound a little, but still wouldn’t have made it a very good book.
Moon Called left Mercy, and poised at the beginning of a relationship with Adam, the Alpha. Blood Bound comes in a little after that has had a chance to develop. The strength of both books is the “human” relationships between the characters – the friendships, love interests, familial bonds and curious social obligations. Where these aspects of character and story are given precedence over the action plot, Blood Bound was a far better read. That Mercy and Adam had not developed a relationship proper, they are still skirting around one another, locked in a kind of perpetual tension, is a good move. It keeps their character’s fresh in a will-they-or-won’t-they dynamic and is a good point of tension between Samuel, Mercy’s ex and Adam’s werewolf subordinate. That Adam can dominate Mercy, as in the alpha wolf can dominate the coyote, and that it’s revealed that she actually wants him too, doesn’t quite add up to Mercy’s characterisation. Other than that, Mercy is still a satisfying character although Blood Bound does have her swaying a little too close to overly typical urban fantasy heroine territory.
One of the more interesting things about Moon Called was the exploration of this new world of supernatural interactions. Blood Bound is far too repetitive in outlining how that works. While some repetition if the supernatural world at work in the series was necessary for new readers, it seemed ever second paragraph with a werewolf in it was explaining the rules of dominance in the werewolf pack. Same too with the continual over explanation of the vampire rules, laws and structures. Especially since Briggs isn’t doing anything particularly new with the vampires or werewolves – apart from the vampires and their “bound” humans, which was obvious enough – this over explanation interrupted the flow and pace of the story and soon grew tedious to read. Apart from this, Brigg’s prose, while simple, is effective and does well to paint a clear picture of this world.
There isn’t a lot more to say as there isn’t a lot in the book to begin with. In a genre as bloated as urban fantasy, Blood Bound does nothing to move beyond cliché or stereotypes of character or plot, and isn’t anything much more than a typical urban fantasy novel, and not a particularly good one at that. And these awful covers really don’t help lift esteem beyond trashy novel territory. Moon Called left an interest for the next book in the series that Blood Bound just doesn’t have.