Biracial Shapeshifter celebrates Native American heritage in the Urban Fantasy, River Marked

Biracial Shapeshifter celebrates Native American heritage in the Urban Fantasy, River Marked

I’ve been following Mercy Thompson’s story since the first book. I love the world that Patricia Briggs has created but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed River Marked. In this series novel, Patricia Briggs slowed down the story pacing to allow the reader to connect with a more intimate side of Mercy. In fact, I was quite enthralled with this “softer” side of Mercy that highlighted her relationship with Adam and the acceptance of her Native American heritage.


In the previous books, Briggs hinted at Mercy’s Native American heritage as a coyote or skin walker. For most of the series, Mercy’s European or white ancestry has been more prevalent. Since her stories are action-packed, the reader never had the opportunity to “do anything” with Mercy’s biracial heritage. Which in hindsight, made Mercy an intriguing character but perhaps we missed something important or critical about her. In River Marked, Briggs respectfully slows down the pace to sprinkle-in Native American religious beliefs, lore, history, and heritage. Many of the scenes were written in a picturesque way so that we could see the rich culture and history of Native Americans. I do have to admit, though, a few times the history was a little too much. Overall, though, it was very centering and unobtrusive.

Like all Mercy Thompson stories, there was a “life or death” plot where Mercy attempts to defeat the river monster. Admittedly, the “life or death” plot was more of a backdrop to Mercy accepting her biracial heritage and healing the relationship with her absent father. True to life, Mercy grapples with her biracial identity so that we sense the character growth and satisfaction of acceptance at the end. I believe that this opening up of Mercy’s Native American heritage has made this character blossom and bloom. Mercy is a more well-rounded character.


One important note is that this emphasis on her Native American heritage, has brought the culture from the fringe and placed it at the margin or center. In a sense, her Native American heritage is critical to the formulation of the series. I sense that something large is on the horizon. There’s a new pantheon of Gods and Goddesses to explore. In fact, Briggs has given herself an open door to a wide variety of interesting directions with this intermixing of the lore of werewolves, vampires, the fae, and Native American Deities. The series will remain both fresh and interesting.

All in all, River Marked is a strong 8 and a great read. Has anyone else read River Marked? If not, would you be interested in reading about this character? Show me a little love by sharing a comment or two. I’d be interested in what people think about how Brigg’s showed Mercy’s acceptance of her biracial heritage.

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Alicia McCalla photo credit Dr. Howard McCalla

I’m author Alicia McCalla. Sign-up for my newsletter to get updates, learn about my latest projects and purchase my badass, spunky and smart Black heroines on Merchandise!