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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Book Review: Alpha and Omega: A Companion Novella to Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs

SERIES: Alpha & Omega, Book 0.5
AUTHOR: Patricia Briggs 
PUBLICATION DATE: First published August 7, 2007
FORMAT: Kindle Edition, 61 pages
GENRE: Fantasy/Urban Fantasy
ASIN: B001IZC3LU
In Cry Wolf, New York Times bestselling author Patricia Briggs started a new urban fantasy series set in the world of Mercy Thompson -- but with rules of its own. Now, read "Alpha and Omega," the novella that inspired the new series, and see how it all began.

Anna Latham never knew werewolves existed, until the night she survived a violent attack... and became one herself. After three years at the bottom of the Chicago pack, she's learned to keep her head down and never, ever trust dominant males. But when she discovers wrongdoing in her pack, she has to go above her Alpha's head to ask for help.

Charles Cornick is the son -- and enforcer -- of the leader of the North American werewolves. Now his father has sent him to Chicago to clean up a problem there. Charles never expected to find Anna, a rare Omega wolf -- and he certainly never expected to recognize her as his mate.

MY REVIEW: 

This novella was originally part of the ‘On the Prowl’ anthology. It is essential to read this first, as it sets out the major players in the series. It is my understanding that those who have read Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series will already be familiar with the characters and world, although I haven’t read that yet.

Anna Latham was changed into a werewolf against her will three years ago. She is considered a “submissive” werewolf, which means she is at the bottom of the pack and is routinely used, abused, and beaten by her pack-mates. The Alpha of the pack, Leo, often “gave” her as a reward to the other males in the pack when they did something to please him. Leo’s mate, Isabelle, finally put a stop to it when she saw that Anna had been cutting herself with a silver knife. Anna would have killed herself if Isabelle didn’t intervene. Some of the older and stronger males in the pack have been killed off, presumably ordered by Leo who wanted to get rid of anyone who could challenge his authority, as well as all the other females except for Anna. Leo’s pack is one of two in the Chicago area, and they apparently don’t get along.

Anna sees a picture of a teenage boy in a newspaper article, who disappeared with his date after a high school dance. Her body was found mauled by animals, but his body never turned up. She recognizes the boy in the photo as one that she had seen in a cage that houses new wolves at Leo’s house, and she is concerned because she believes that Leo ordered the attack. Anna knows that her pack has serious issues within its ranks, and she feels driven to do something about it. She calls the Marrok in Montana, who is the leader of all the wolves in the North American region, and tells him of her suspicions. She is surprised to learn that he is already aware of Chicago’s problems and has sent his son, Charles, to deal with it. The Marrok, Bran, asks Anna to meet Charles at the airport.

Charles Cornick isn’t just the Marrok’s son; he is also the Enforcer or Assassin who acts on his father’s behalf to settle problems among werewolves and take care of (read:kill) those that need to be dealt with. His mere presence instills fear and awe in those around him, wolf and human alike, because of his dominant Alpha nature. His inner wolf immediately bonds with Anna and chooses her as his mate. This takes Charles by surprise, as he had all but given up finding a mate after being alone for over 200 years. When he realizes how Anna has been abused, he can barely control his rage and anger. Anna isn’t just any werewolf, and she is not a submissive. She is an Omega, a rare werewolf to be treasured. She cannot be controlled by the Alpha, which is why she was able to summon the Marrok in the first place. Leo obviously knew what she was and that is why he had to beat her down. He tried to control her by breaking her, but Anna didn’t quite break. As an Omega, her gift is to bring peace and a sense of calm to the pack and those around her. Anna is stunned because there is so much that she does not know about being a werewolf, and she had never even heard of an Omega!

Charles has also inherited a few gifts of his own. Although his father, Bran, is a Welshman, his mother was Salish. When she became pregnant after the Change, her father who possessed magical abilities helped her to stay human so that she could carry the baby to full-term. Charles’ mother did not survive childbirth because she was so weak from resisting the Change each month with the full moon. Charles was born a werewolf; he was not Changed. This has given him a few extra magical talents, such as having the ability to Change quickly.

Charles is determined to deal with Leo and his pack-mates for the atrocities perpetrated against Anna. It normally happens that the human chooses a mate, and the inner wolf follows. For Charles, it happened backwards. If he had his way, he would have taken things slowly to woo Anna and to not scare her off by his intensity. However, Anna is reading him all wrong and he needs to let her know just how badly he wants her and to prove his loyalty to her.  

Charles to Anna: “If you had let me,” he said, “I’d have courted you gently and won your heart.” He closed his eyes. “I didn’t mean to frighten you.”

Briggs is a new-to-me author, and I was immediately drawn into her world. Anna is a survivor, and you cannot help but feel for what she has gone through. Her strength has enabled her to adapt and to survive against the odds, especially since she has been given so little information about werewolf customs and history. Most of what she has been told has been inaccurate. And who wouldn’t fall for Charles? He is fiercely protective of Anna, which I love! He is a little bit thrown by his feelings for Anna, and he grapples with these new emotions. I love Anna’s cheekiness and how she likes to show Charles a little defiance, which sounds like something that he is not used to!! I wouldn’t expect her to have so much sass, not after all the abuse she has suffered, so it is a credit to her character. It was nice to see their relationship develop, but it also frustrated me because they frequently failed to read each other correctly which created a lot of angst!

I do not normally choose to read novellas but, in this case, it is a necessary part of the series. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it and how I was quickly taken into the story despite its brevity. I have my iPod already loaded up with the next three audiobooks in the series! I am already hooked!! I enjoyed it so much that I have created another reading challenge: 2012 Patricia Briggs Werewolf Challenge!


2 comments:

  1. Great review, I just got completely caught up on the Mercy Thompson series and plan to start the Alpha and Omega series, so this review came at the perfect time!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is a good short story. I love both the Mercy Thompson series and this spin off series. Patricia Briggs is such a great story weaver.

    Thanks for sharing your review!

    ReplyDelete

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