Title: Hunting Ground
Author: Patricia Briggs
Series: Alpha & Omega #2, Mercy-verse #9
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy, Strong women, Werewolves
Publisher: Ace fantasy
5th sentence, 74th page: I’ll scare her.
Anna Latham didn’t know how complicated life could be until she became a werewolf. And until she was mated to Charles Cornick, the son – and enforcer – of Bran, the leader of the North American werewolves, she didn’t know how dangerous it could be, either…
Anna and Charles have just been enlisted to attend a summit to present Bran’s controversial proposition: that the wolves should finally reveal themselves to humans. But the most feared Alpha in Europe is dead set against the plan – and it seems like someone else might be, too. When Anna is attacked by vampires using pack magic, the kind of power only werewolves should be able to draw on, Charles and Anna must combine their talents to hunt down whoever is behind it all – or risk losing everything…
Hunting Ground is a great look into how Anna’s new role in life and her new marriage have a much greater effect on her life. Where Cry Wolf focused on Anna and Charles’ relationship and her own insecurities, this story brings her out into the wider world of the werewolves. It also helps to highlight the difficulties of ‘coming out’. Although in this context, it is the werewolves coming out to the world, many of the difficulties in coming out with one’s sexuality and the feelings that are explored are also relevant – there is an underlying fear of persecution balanced by the need to remove the threat of blackmail from their lives.
Although this story primarily focuses on the werewolves coming out to society, and Anna’s first foray into the greater reality of werewolf life, it also highlights the difficulties that Charles has in his position as his father’s enforcer. Not only does he have to keep everyone and everything at arm’s length in case he must one day kill them, but he is also unable to act as anything but an unfeeling, robotic killing machine. As his personality is revealed through Anna’s love and eyes, it is blatantly obvious that this unfeeling, unwilling persona is not whom he truly is. This rendering of his spirit into two separate identities is incredibly difficult, and hints at a great inner pain that Anna is only just beginning to address.
The role of an Omega is also further expanded upon in Hunting Ground. The idea is a fantastic one, and it resonates, we all know someone that is somehow protective, but people feel the need to protect them. That one person who seems to attract every man and his dog, and be told their life stories. The personification of this within werewolf society is something of an anomaly that is little understood, a bit like those who fit this description in real life. Yet, the brief understanding that Anna has gained and her willingness to discover her own powers and inner strength is a wonderful journey that she takes you on as she confronts deadly fae, and The Beast.