So the only way for me to do this review is to break this book down by the short stories that it contains. Some I loved, some I didn't care for, and some I had already read before so it really didn't interest me in reading them again. I got this as a loan from the library since I had read some critical reviews that did not care for this book. I decided that if I liked it, I would go out and buy the full version later since I own all of the Mercy Thompson books. I still may do that, but may wait until it comes out in paperback to get a better price for it.
The main issue with most of these short stories which surprised me is that some of them were not very interesting, or in some cases the pacing was just off. We all know that Patricia Briggs can write. And I have read some of her short stories before, it was just surreal how some of them that included characters I loved, ended up being a trial to get through.
"Silver" (5 stars)
This short story tells how Samuel and Bran become werewolves. Definitely my favorite of this collection. We hear about Samuel's first wife and children and Bran's mother who was a witch. And we also hear about Ariana (from Silver Borne) who Samuel would fall in love with. We heard the bare bones in the Silver Borne book and I was glad to read the full version here. Told in alternating sections (Samuel and Ariana) you realize what a tough fae Ariana is and how strong Bran really is too. I want more Bran stories please!
"Fairy Gifts" (3 stars)
A vampire named Thomas returns home to Montana. We get to hear about his past and his relationship with his father who sounds like a horrible human being due to a deal he made to give Thomas to a master vampire. I am still wondering who Thomas is. I think I read about him before in one of the Mercy books when she went to go fight in Frost Burned but was drawing a blank on it. Honestly though the first part of the story was interesting, it quickly stopped interesting me. I realize that if is not one of the 'heroes' of the Mercy world I just didn't care. This story really did go on too long. The pacing was kind of all over the place.
"Gray" (1 star)
The main character in this story is a vampire named Elyna Gray. I don't believe she has been in any of the Mercy Thompson stories unless someone else knows and can correct me. This story really didn't do a thing for me from beginning to end. Elyna is lonely for people and we just read on and on about how lonely she is. We also hear tidbits about her dead husband Jack.
"Seeing Eye" (5 stars)
We get to hear how werewolf Tom and witch Moira met each other. I loved this story and wish that we could get more standalone novels about this duo.
"Alpha and Omega" (4 stars)
This is the same rating I gave Alpha and Omega when I read it years ago. I do love the story of Charles and Anna, but once again I am realizing some problems with it based on the re-read. We hear that Anna is an Omega wolf, and once again we have Patricia Briggs explaining in minute detail what an Omega wolf is. Of course that had to happen to set up the world building about Alphas and Omegas, however, it is still pretty boring when you read it. And the insta-mate with Charles is no much better the second time around. I think the main problem though is that as an Omega wolf Anna is able to ignore direct orders and do what she pleases. And in this story she has to think that she is an Omega and is able to ignore orders. But this is only after Charles tells her what she is. What was going on before that she didn't realize that she didn't need to obey orders. This happened in 'Hunting Ground' to a certain extent and Ms. Briggs always wrote it as if Anna could only do what she needed to if she realized in her head she was an Omega.
"The Star of David" (2 stars)
I honestly have no memory of the main character, David Christiansen. I know he appeared in 'Moon Called' and that's about it. The whole story was actually pretty short compared to the others and not enough details were provided me for me to care one way about David or anyone else in this story.
"Roses in Winter" (5 stars)
On second thought I think that this story actually did have a few execution problems though I still gave it five stars. I love the character of Asil and we get more Bran (yeah!) but the story of the werewolf Kara never interested me at all. I was more interested in how Asil took to Kara and she to him. And I loved hearing about Asil's reactions to the werewolf Sage. Once again I found myself wishing for a standalone story about Asil. Reading about how werewolves have to turn or be destroyed was very interesting.
"In Red, With Pearls" (3 stars)
I love Warren and Kyle so much from the Mercy books and this book did not do them any justice at all. I have no idea what the heck was going on and in the end it didn't make a lot of sense. I think I was suppose to think it was funny in a macabre sort of way. It was just weird.
"Redemption" (4 stars)
I really love the werewolf Ben and am still mad at how Mercy treated him in 'River Marked' and acted as if Ben was a hater and raper of women. She already knew about Ben from what Adam told her in 'Blood Bound' and it was Ben that helped Adam to understand Mercy in 'Iron Kissed.' Ben has had Mercy's back throughout mostly all of the books unlike some members of the Pack. Mercy and Adam are in this story and I felt like for once she wasn't awful towards him and I loved that Ben called her when he needed help. We get to see Ben grow in this story and though it was alluded to in 'Iron Kissed' we know that Ben was abused by his father and his mother knew about it. Hence Ben's trust issues with women. We hear about Ben's first Pack in England and what he allowed to happen as a watcher there. It really turned my stomach a bit and it goes without saying that poor Ben needed a shrink or someone to help him deal with his rightful anger towards his parents.
SPOILERS FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NOT READ "NIGHT BROKEN". Don't read further.
"Hollow" (3 stars)
This story takes place after "Night Broken" and in it we have Mercy dealing with the aftermath of that story which left her at death's door. It was weird but this didn't feel like a Mercy story. It felt off in some way. Maybe it's because we had alternating points of views with some characters that were new to the Mercy-verse so it didn't fit right. I loved catching up with Gary (Mercy's half brother) and hope he is in future books too. There is really cool spoiler dealing with Samuel and Ariana and I literally sat up and cheered. That was enough for me to raise my rating of 2.5 stars to 3.
"Outtake from Silver Borne" (1 star)
This fit in a weird place in the collection and honestly should have occurred before Ben's story. This is once again a story of Samuel and Ariana. And though I love them both, this almost five page short story (if you can call them that) really didn't do them any justice. Plus it happens before Night Broken and the awesome spoiler I got to read so it makes no sense why it was placed in this order in the book. It should have come after Silver or something.
ONCE AGAIN SPOILERS FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NOT READ "NIGHT BROKEN"
"Outtake from Night Broken" (1 star)
Told from Adam's point of view we have him waiting for Mercy's death. After Mercy's fight with a Volcano god (yeah I am still not that thrilled with that story-line it was so random) she is left with a broken neck and everyone is waiting for her to die. Which makes the actions of Adam's ex-wife at the end of "Night Broken" so much worse and makes me want to strangle that character all over again. This is almost four pages and like I said for the above outtake from "Silver Borne" did not do anything to add to the story at all from "Night Broken." And once again I would say this should have occurred before the other short story in this collection "Hollow." We already know that Adam loves Mercy so I don't think we needed this outtake included to show us that. Or maybe some readers did since many of us were ready to kick him too due to how the Pack and he were treating Mercy because Adam's ex was around.
So there you have it. Some stories I loved, others I shrugged at, and others were really not worth including. Maybe Ms. Briggs should have just had the outtakes available for free on her website or for free via Kindle. I don't think I would have paid anything for them since they were so short. Maybe in future editions of "Silver Borne" and "Night Broken" they can be included.