Burn Bright (Alpha & Omega #5) by Patricia Briggs
Another exciting entry in one of my personal favorite urban fantasy worlds.
Synopsis from GoodReads (contains spoilers for previous entries in the series!!):
Mated werewolves Charles Cornick and Anna Latham face a threat like no other–one that lurks too close to home…
They are the wild and the broken. The werewolves too damaged to live safely among their own kind. For their own good, they have been exiled to the outskirts of Aspen Creek, Montana. Close enough to the Marrok’s pack to have its support; far enough away to not cause any harm.
With their Alpha out of the country, Charles and Anna are on call when an SOS comes in from the fae mate of one such wildling. Heading into the mountainous wilderness, they interrupt the abduction of the wolf–but can’t stop blood from being shed. Now Charles and Anna must use their skills–his as enforcer, hers as peacemaker–to track down the attackers, reopening a painful chapter in the past that springs from the darkest magic of the witchborn…
WARNING! THIS REVIEW WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR PREVIOUS ENTRIES BOTH IN THIS SERIES AND IN THE MERCY THOMPSON SERIES!!
It’s a good thing that I read both Alpha & Omega and it’s sister series, Mercy Thompson, because there were some minor spoilers for the Mercy Thompson storyline, most notably the three books Frost Burned, Fire Touched, and Silence Fallen, which are three of the four most recent books in that series. So I wouldn’t read this one without having read those two due to mention of characters and plots. The two series are definitely getting more and more intertwined as they go on and the world gets more dangerous/complicated.
With that out of the way… whoo boy. Burn Bright was a bit of a wild ride. We had a couple seemingly unrelated plotlines that ended up converging, a misleading prologue, some interesting character development, and a few twists and turns that threw me for a loop.
I know the subplot in the last Alpha & Omega book about Anna wanting children was unpopular with some people, but I think Anna’s plot line in this book explained why she was interested in them in the last book. If you disagree, well, then that feels like a completely dropped thread, but I think this book’s subplot about her was a continuation that made sense for her character and her circumstances.
I liked the rest of the plots, too – it was nice getting to see still more magical heritages so we’re not left with magic=evil thanks to the portrayal of (most) witches in these books. It’s completely understandable WHY most witches are evil given how their magic works, but, again, it’s nice to see that not all magic is inherently evil and that it depends on the source of the power.
The main villain of this book, on the other hand, felt rather ineffectual. Most of the main plot is driven by mystery and takes place over the course of not even 24 hours once we really hit the ground running, and the villain doesn’t really do anything. Part of that is because they fail to find who they’re really looking for, but nothing seems to really go the way they want it to. I never really worried that the good guys’ main goals wouldn’t be achieved, other than perhaps ferreting out the bad guy.
As for characters, there was A LOT of development of a number of characters in this book, both new and old. There were a lot more POVs in Burn Bright then we’ve had in previous books which was definitely a good thing. It helped me figure out why certain characters made the choices they did and also opened up some characters I hadn’t really ‘understood’ in prior novels, like Leah and Sage. The POVs also helped me get attached to new characters and to feel for some of the ones who had bad things happen to them.
I will say that Leah in particular excited me in this novel. She has not been portrayed in a favorable light AT ALL in any prior novel but this one gave her not just some development but some sympathy, the kind that I was hoping to see as we saw more and more of her. I’m so happy to get to know that she has some positive qualities and to see more of why Bran chose her as his mate (beyond the one ‘necessary’ trait).
One of the arguably most interesting plot threads goes back all the way to the first novel and novella, respectively, in the Mercy Thompson and Alpha & Omega series, reminding us that there was money involved in those intertwined plots that never got resolved. I thought it had been because I, foolishly, assumed Mercy Thompson’s book 1 villain had had more cash than apparently he did. I’m not sure if that was an oversight on my part, if it had been planned without attention being drawn to it, or if Briggs realized that she could use that dangling thread to tie in another threat, but either way I applaud her for weaving it in. It certainly doesn’t feel shoe-horned given the tie-in to Frost Burned‘s villains, who also had some dangling threads, so I’m excited to see how this is going to develop in coming novels.
There is one other element in this novel that truly bothered me, but it doesn’t get much attention beyond a relatively quick conversation between Anna and Charles. I don’t want to get into it here because it is both minor and a bit of a spoiler, but suffice it to say that there was one relationship that apparently wasn’t what I thought it was (on one person’s side) and I was Not Happy about the revelation of one person’s feelings. If you’ve read the novel, you’ll probably know what I’m talking about and, while your mileage may vary, I was happier with what I thought both sides felt for the other.
Overall, though, 4 out of 5 stars. Another good book in the Alpha & Omega series. If you like Urban Fantasy, the dual series of Alpha & Omega and Mercy Thompson are quite enjoyable with a good look at exactly what power, loss, love, and ‘immortality’ can do to a person, even someone raised to those things. Bonus, the monsters are truly monstrous.