Cry Wolf, by Patricia Briggs (Ace, 2008)

Following a series of events in Chicago, Anna Latham, once the least important werewolf of the pack, has become mated to Charles Cornick, son of the the Marrok, the most powerful werewolf in North America. Their fates linked together in unexpected ways, the two have to learn to live and work together, as they attempt to figure out just what sort of bond they really have. And they can’t afford to dally, because there’s any number of werewolves and other enemies out there looking to settle long-outstanding scores on them and their friends. Moreover, Anna is no ordinary werewolf; she’s an Omega wolf, capable of soothing the spirit of the wolf and cementing the pack bonds in their own subtle way. This makes her extremely valuable in the right hands, but Charles sees her only as a woman who needs his protection – and his love. Their growing relationship, and the exploration of Anna’s nature as an Omega, may need to be put on hold when they’re sent to investigate rumors of a rogue werewolf in the remote Montana wilderness. There, they find something neither wolf nor human, a danger linked to the past, capable of enslaving werewolves and wreaking havoc. Can Anna and Charles find their shared strength in time to prevent an unholy terror from once again terrorizing civilization, or will they be its first victims?

Cry Wolf is an interesting spinoff from Briggs’ series about Mercy Thompson, werecoyote car mechanic, featuring supporting and secondary characters in plot threads started in Moon Called and Blood Bound. To be honest, while I enjoyed this book, I didn’t find it, or the characters, quite as memorable as Mercy and her predicaments. Anna herself didn’t really register that much at the time, so I approached this book with a fairly blank slate of expectations. It stands alone fairly well, with little previous knowledge required, although it would probably be nice to have read the book in which Charles and Anna met and bonded, since Cry Wolf refers back to those events occasionally. It was a little disconcerting that so much is made of Anna being an Omega wolf, yet it’s more than a third into the book before we’re given any concrete explanation of what being an Omega means, and why it’s so significant. I’m the sort of reader who likes these details earlier, especially when they’re central to the very concept of the story.

All things taken into account, I found Cry Wolf to be a perfectly pleasant, serviceable urban fantasy, with some intriguing elements and unusual aspects, but ultimately, it didn’t leap out at me like the Mercy Thompson books do. Anna and Charles are a nice couple, with some decent chemistry, but they lack the spark that I usually look for in lead characters. I’ll admit that I’m rather picky when it comes to werewolf books, as I’ve seen a lot in recent years; like vampires, it takes a certain something for them to stand out from the pack. It’s my opinion that Patricia Briggs has written a rather decent urban fantasy/romance, but it fell short of her potential. I’ll check out the next in the series, but I’d rather see her branch out into more unusual territory, as she did with Iron Kissed and hopefully will with the next Mercy Thompson, Bone Crossed.

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