Shifting Shadows: Stories from the World of Mercy Thompson
by Patricia Briggs
Cover Artist: Daniel Dos Santos
Review by Gayle Surrette
Ace Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425265000
Date: 02 September 2014 List Price $26.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
I don't read a lot of short stories, but I do enjoy collections of stories by one author rather than anthologies. First, it means I can read the short stories based in a world populated by the characters I enjoy reading about in novels, and find out new and interesting background information without having to track down anthologies and magazines that I normally don't have access to. So, I looked forward to Patricia Briggs' Shifting Shadows, a collection of stories set in the world of Mercy Thompson.
In the Introduction, Briggs states that these are all the short stories that she's ever written in Mercy Thompson's world. There are 10 stories in this collection -- 4 new stories published here for the first time and 6 stories that have been previously published in anthologies. There are also two outtakes -- one from Silver Borne and the other from Night Broken. The stories are organized by when they happened in the sequence of the novels. There a short introduction to each story by the author that sets up the reader for the story and tell us where it falls in the time line.
"Silver" is new for this volume and fills in some of the background of Bran and Samuel. You learn how they became werewolves and how Samuel met Ariana for the first time. It's a dark story of betrayal and loss, but also of strength and endurance under very trying circumstances. The story is told from Samuel's and Ariana's points of view and what you learn about Bran comes from Samuel's memory of events.
"Fairy Gifts" was originally published in Naked City: Tales of Urban Fantasy (St. Martin, 2011). This is the story of Thomas. It takes place in Butte, Montana, in the present and in 1900. It's Thomas' recollection about his childhood. Often the stories mention that you don't ever want to either owe a favor to a fae or be owed one by them. However, sometimes doing the right thing just because it is the right thing can't be helped and leads you in directions you never thought you could travel.
"Gray" was originally published in Home Improvement: Undead Edition (Ace, 2011). Elyna has moved back to Chicago. She's even managed to purchase her old apartment since the building it is in is now a condo. She'd been happy when she first lived in this apartment and hoped to be, if not happy, at least comfortable again. The apartment needed renovations as she wanted to bring it back to what it had originally looked like. Her contractors were competent but they needed time. The story is one that is sad with a surprising twist makes for a satisfactory ending.
"Seeing Eye" was originally published in Strange Brew (St. Martin's Griffin, 2009). This story features a white witch, Moira, and a werewolf, Tom. Tom is a cop and his brother, who was working undercover, is missing and he needs help -- the kind only a witch could give. Moira doesn't like to get involved, but there's a twist to the case that matches a problem she's been dealing with. This is a very dark story with solid characters that I'd like to learn more about, so I hope they'll feature in other works soon.
"Alpha and Omega" was originally published in On the Prowl (2007). There's something very wrong with one of the Chicago werewolf packs. Anna, who is at the bottom of the pack structure and often abused can't turn a blind eye to what is going on and calls Bran. Charles Cornick, Bran's son and enforcer, has been sent to check things over and fix the problems. Charles finds that there is more wrong with the pack than they'd been led to believe and Anna was much more than even she knew. This is basically the story of how Anna and Charles met.
"The Star of David" was originally published in Wolfsbane and Mistletoe (Ace, 2008). David Christiansen doesn't celebrate the holiday because they're about family and he's estranged from his family, especially his daughter. So, when she contacts him and asks for help there's no way he can refuse. This is a story of redemption, grace, and forgiveness.
"Roses in Winter" is new to this collection. Kara is, as far as anyone knows, the youngest person to be forcefully changed to a werewolf and survive. Bran has been dealing with her to overcome her resistance to accepting what she has become. One day she finds her way to Asil's greenhouse and a friendship is forged that surprises them both. This friendship changes Asil's relationship with the world outside his greenhouses in ways he didn't expect.
"In Red, With Pearls" was originally published in Down These Strange Streets (Ace, 2011). Warren is a newly minted private detective and has started to work for Kyle's law firm when things become very personal. Someone came to the office and tried to kill Kyle. Kyle has plenty of enemies and Warren has a few of his own to add the the list. This story has plenty of twists and turns to satisfy most, if not all, mystery readers. However, the ending will surprise even if you catch on early in the story.
"Redemption" is new to this collection. In this story, readers get to know more about Ben, who is a member of Adam and Mercy's pack. Ben was assigned to Adam years ago and is a brilliant computer security person. He's been working for a company locally and is have some problems. The story flashes back to Ben's past in England, as well as how he's dealing with some issues at work that seem to be triggering these memories.
"Hollow" is also new to this collection. This is a Mercy story from start to finish, though the main characters are the ones who have the problem. It appears that fixing things would be simple, but the problem is far more difficult than it first seemed -- but then, aren't they all.
Outtakes are scenes that were written for the book but then didn't, for whatever reason, move the plot forward or slowed the pace. Two included outtakes are interesting scenes and, if you've actually read the book, they're a great surprise Easter egg. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
All in all, a great collection. I'd actually read several of the stories that had been previously published but still enjoyed re-reading them. I found the new stories filled in a lot some information that I'd wondered about for those characters featured. It's really nice to have all of these stories in one volume.