Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to…
Audiobook review: Mercy Thompson Universe
Author: Patricia Briggs
Narrator: Lorelei King + Alexander Cendese
Audio Speed: 1.25x
Series: Mercy Thompson, Alpha & Omega
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Shifting Shadows is a multi-story anthology of tales from the world of Mercy Thompson and Alpha and Omega series. The book really isn’t meant for those who aren’t familiar with the series, and some of the tales will be spoilerish if you haven’t read/listened to the books through Night Broken (Mercy Thompson #8). The stories are told in chronological order, with some narrated by Alexander Cendese (AC) and others by Lorelei King (LK). In between each story, Lorelei King narrates a short message about the upcoming story written by Ms. Briggs. Here are my thoughts on each story. While I listened to the stories in order (numbered below), they are listed as they appear in the book blurb.
This book includes the new stories…
1) “Silver” Narrator: AC
This is an origin story and a long, long ago prequel to MT #5 Silver Borne. It shares how Bran and Samuel became werewolves and outlines the first time Samuel and Ariana met and fell in love. The tale is dark and haunting, but the way it is written and narrated, it felt more like a recounting of history instead of a solid story with a plot; like I’m being told a story rather than immersed in it. The narration was good but nothing great. I liked the Cornish accents. The story was left very open, but having read the series, I know what becomes of the characters..
7) “Roses in Winter” Narrator: LK
Takes place between Bone Crossed and Silver Borne. It’s the story of Cara who’s dad appealed to Mercy for help in second book, Blood Bound. Cara was attacked and turned into a werewolf when she was only ten and survived. She’s now living with Bran’s pack and is befriending the lone wolf, Asil. This is absolutely one of the best stories of the bunch. It is the tale of two lost souls finding happiness and comfort together as Asil takes Cara under his wing and shares his garden. It is very emotional and powerful, but more so because I know the characters having listening to both series. I loved this one.
9) “Redemption” Narrator: LK
This one is all about Ben, one of Adam’s wolves who is sort of an outsider. The story takes place between Frost Burned and Night Broken. We witness Ben growing and changing, also learn more about his life before he came to Adam’s pack. Although I got lost in the beginning with all of the techno-speak, once the plot got moving, I was engrossed. The story itself ended up being a lot longer than I expected, but ended upbeat and optimistic.
10) “Hollow” Narrator: LK
What would a Mercy anthology be without a Mercy story? Taking place after Night Broken, there are mild spoilers of that book. Mercy, along with new pack member Zach, investigate a ghost haunting of a billionaire who was charged but not convicted of his wife’s death over 14 years ago. Listening to this one reminded me just how much I adore Lorelei King sharing Mercy’s POV. I loved seeing Mercy and Adam and listening to Mercy figure things out.
…and reader favorites
2) “Fairy Gifts” Narrator: AC
The story bounces back and forth between modern day and a century ago. Tom was changed into a vampire against his will by his immigrant father, and then forced to work in the opium dens in Butte. In modern day, Tom feels called back to Butte and recollects saving a fae long ago. I got very confused in this one, especially when the group of Fae tells the history of the Flannagan and his enemy. It was an interesting tale but confusing. I don’t believe it has any relation to the series that I recall.
3) “Gray” Narrator: LK
Elanah and Jack were once madly in love but clearly something tragic happened. Elana is a vampire. Recollecting. Her old apartment now a condo for sale. The apartment is haunted. I really enjoyed this touching story about a woman coming to terms with lost love and life. Elanah is strong and caring. Her journey to forgive herself is emotional and well written. I was left with a feeling of hope. Narration is fabulous. LK is one of the best and I so enjoyed hearing her on this one.
5) “Alpha and Omega” Narrator: LK
I’ve listened to and reviewed this one before. But since this version is performed by my favorite narrator, I decided to listen to it again for enjoyment. And I fell in love with Charles and Anna all over again. I simply adore this couple and their stories. Hearing it told by LK was a tremendous treat.
4) “Seeing Eye” Narrator: LK
This is a story of good witches. It features the meeting of Moira (witch) and Tom (werewolf) who had roles in Hunting Ground. This was the first story (as shared in the order within the book) with direct tie to the series. It takes place about a year before the series starts with Moon Called. I loved this but wish it went about two chapters more. It ended with pretty significantly, and I am left with the knowledge that there is a connection between Tom and Moira, which readers already know from reading the books.
6) “The Star of David” Narrator: AC
This one takes place just after Moon Called. It is the story of Adam Haupman’s former Army buddy David who was changed at the same time as Adam. Unfortunately when he returned home from war, he didn’t know what he’d become and killed his wife and her lover in front of his daughter. 40 years later his daughter, Stella, reaches out to him for help… it’s the first time they’ve spoken in 40 years. Although I was immediately drawn into the story, I found myself disappointed in the narration. It’s honestly not bad, but when sandwiched between stories narrated by LK, who is not only one of the best, but who I’m used to hearing tell Mercy’s tales, it felt off to me at first. And voice for Stella is too young for a 50+ year old. In the end the solid story and good narration, which kept me engaged and engrossed.
8) “In Red, with Pearls” Narrator: AC
Here we get a story from Adam and Mercy’s friend, Warren. It’s his first person narrative and takes place between Silver Borne and River Marked. Someone sent a zombie to kill Warren’s mate, Kyle. Solving the mystery of who and why is Warren’s job. I got a bit confused over all of the players and who was whom. There was a lot going on and several suspects. But it also could be that I listened over a couple days with break in between. I enjoyed the story and seeing more of Warren and Kyle, regardless. In this case, I think AC’s narration fits Warren better than LK.
Additionally there were two outtakes one from Silver Borne from Ariana’s POV and one from Night Broken from Adam’s POV. Both are short but emotional scenes that add value to the overall stories, but unfortunately just didn’t fit in their respective books.
Overall, Shifting Shadows is an entertaining and delightful set of stories from Mercy’s Universe. I enjoyed the more recent (chronologically) stories most; the ones with familiar characters. They felt more vibrant and alive to me. Lorelei King’s narration was far more enjoyable than Alexander Cendese’s performances. He wasn’t bad, but next to her, he was a pale comparison. The anthology is definitely meant for those that have read/listened to the series (both series).
Overall Rating: A-/B+
LK narration: A+
AC narration: B