Cry Wolf

by Patricia Briggs

Cover image

Series: Alpha and Omega #2
Publisher: Ace
Copyright: August 2008
ISBN: 0-441-01615-4
Format: Mass market
Pages: 310

Buy at Powell's Books

Cry Wolf is a sequel to the novella Alpha and Omega. This was originally included in the anthology On the Prowl, which I had no particular interest in, but it's now available as a standalone novella if you have an ebook reader. I recommend reading it first if you have any interest in this series; it's not particularly expensive, and piecing together what happened in it while reading the beginning of Cry Wolf is not particularly enjoyable.

There are some mild spoilers for Alpha and Omega here, so if you're planning on reading the novella first, you may want to do that before reading on.

Anna is an Omega, an extremely rare form of werewolf who does not fall into the normal pack hierarchy. With normal werewolves, either the wolf is dominant or is submissive, and the most dominant wolf leads the pack and can force their will on the other pack members. Omegas are strange. Normal pack dominance doesn't really work on them, but neither are they dominant themselves. At the start of Cry Wolf, Anna has very little idea what any of this means. She's been rescued from a horribly abusive situation and is being brought to Montana by Charles, the enforcer and son of the leader of all North American werewolves. And, apparently, her mate, according to both of their wolf natures, but she's not entirely sure what that means either. She doesn't have a lot of time to find out, since the local pack is immediately threatened by a rogue werewolf and she's pulled into both pack politics and that hunt.

Cry Wolf, despite being the first full book of the Alpha and Omega series, is set in the same world as Briggs's Mercy Thompson series. (At a guess, somewhere around Iron Kissed.) This is not just a vague link within the universe, unfortunately. The characters here refer frequently to Mercy and previous events in her series in that way that implies the reader should have read them, without explaining fully what happened. If, like me, you're more interested in this series than the Mercy Thompson series (I preferred it because there are no vampires and I'm sick of vampires), be aware that starting here will feel like starting in the middle of a series. This will be even worse if you don't read Alpha and Omega first, making the first section of the book feel like constant namedropping when you don't know any of the references.

The story, otherwise, is basically hurt/comfort with a side of coming of age. Whether you will enjoy this will depend on whether you're in the mood for a fairly predictable story that hits those buttons. Anna is a mess, thrown into survival mode after years of abuse and hating what she's become. (She is, actually, somewhat less of a mess than I think she should be given what happened to her, although Briggs has both her Omega nature and her wolf as outs there.) Charles wants to comfort her and isn't sure how. She misreads things, he misreads things, there's lots of missed communication... you've probably read this story before and have a pretty good idea how it will go. They are somewhat less stupid about their communication problems than the typical novel of this type, but they still don't use words very well.

The rest of the plot felt like mostly an excuse to throw Anna and Charles together doing something external to their relationship and to give Anna a chance to use her unique talents. It takes a bit to get going, since most of the early book is introductions and setting up all the connections to the Mercy Thompson stories, but there is some meat to it, including fleshing out the mythology of werewolves in Briggs's world. (And some passable descriptions of Montana wilds.) I'm not a big fan of how power struggles and combat seem binary and very hierarchical, but that seems to be the way that Briggs differentiates her werewolves, and it does form a sharp contrast with Anna's ability. I think Omegas could have been even more subtle than they are here, but the interplay between the conflict-driven approach of everyone else and Anna's inherent calm can be fun.

The biggest problem I had with Cry Wolf, apart from the general predictability of the story and relationships, is that the hurt/comfort angle never felt adequately resolved. Hurting a character very badly and then having others offer comfort is a very common story technique that brings with it some reader expectations in terms of emotional payoff. The point at which the comfort finally works can be very empowering and very affecting. I don't think Briggs hit the payoff as well as she could have. Anna recovers, but she does so rather more easily than felt correct, and without the emotional punch that I was waiting for. It seems odd to complain about this sort of urban fantasy novel having too little angst, and maybe I was just hoping for a story other than the one I was reading, but I wanted a story that dug a bit deeper into Anna's psyche.

I think the best word for Cry Wolf is okay. If this is the story you're in the mood for, it delivers that story. Briggs's werewolves are mildly interesting, and the Omega concept is a good one, although not as thoroughly or convincingly explored as I would have liked. I would have preferred more intensity in the hurt/comfort plot and a more difficult healing, but I still enjoyed the book.

Followed by Hunting Ground.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Reviewed: 2012-12-23

Last modified and spun 2014-12-21