Sunday, 14 December 2014

Review: Night Broken

Night Broken
Night Broken by Patricia Briggs

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There are a few really good urban fantasy authors who aren't just grabbing a bunch of tropes and creating the written equivalent of an action movie, and Patricia Briggs is one of them. (Others include [a:Carrie Vaughn|8988|Carrie Vaughn|], [a:C.E. Murphy|8695|C.E. Murphy|] and, of course, [a:Jim Butcher|10746|Jim Butcher|].) These books have a depth of insight into human relationships, and use that to make the action scenes matter. Because there are action scenes; but they're not constant, and when they do occur the stakes are not the weaksauce "does the character win?" or even "will the character save the world... or destroy it?" Instead, they have implications and side-implications to do with all of the great human drives: esteem and affection, security and survival, power and control. There's not just one thing hanging on the outcome of the fight, and when this is the case you can get away with fewer fights, because they mean more.

In a sense, the actual physical fights in this book in particular are almost background to a different struggle, between Mercy (the series lead and narrator) and her husband's manipulative and pathetic ex-wife. The scenes in which Christie, the ex, manipulates everyone around her and sets up conversations and situations in which Mercy has no way to come out the winner is masterful, and shows a depth of life experience and reflection on human behaviour that you don't see in many genre books. This masterfulness gained the book its fifth star from me. I've decided to start giving five stars not just to books that leave me gasping or do something new that's completely amazing, but also to books that are particularly well done.

This book is particularly well done. Although it's well along in a series, with references to a spinoff series, it could be a starting point, since enough of the backstory is refreshed that you could follow what was going on. Some of the richness comes from having followed the series and seen the characters change and grow, but nevertheless this volume could stand on its own.

I looked forward to reading it, and I wasn't disappointed.

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