Cover Image: Wild Sign

Wild Sign

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"This is my husband, Charles, and our-" She hesitated too long and gave Tag time to chime in. "Henchman," he said with a grin.

Amazing as usual and I really never expect any less. Anna & Charles continue to be the best couple of all time, which, of course, only amps up the danger.

You know whose story we get in this book? Leah's. Yeah. Let that sink in. I didn't even like Leah and once I found out we were digging into I was not ready for how ravenous I was to discover what happened! Good luck guessing the mythology in this one. ::winks::

I will visit the Marrock's pack as often as Ms. Briggs writes about them.

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This book caught me off guard. Not because the chronology fits it in between and around Mercy's stories, that's laid out cleanly. No, what caught me off guard is that I never expected the book that would actually unlock Leah to us. She's been a cypher throughout all of the books in the series, an antagonist at times, mated to Bran, the Marrok, but always somehow on the outside and at odds. That it would happen in the Alpha & Omega arc instead of Mercy potentially makes more sense, after all, there are more walls between Mercy and the mate of the man she thinks of as her father. Yet, I've always thought of Alpha & Omega as the series that was more Paranormal Romance next to the Urban Fantasy of Mercy Thompson.

Yet, here we are. I'm not going to undersell Paranormal Romance as a genre by saying this book is better because it's more substantial, more Urban Fantasy. Rather, this book continues a trend that shifts the series away from the seduction and romance to what Anna and Charles do with this shared strength between them. Anna is still haunted by her past, but she is also healing, so while her traumas are still present the story has room to handle different traumas, including one far far overdue.

Wild Sign is an excellent story, aware of the dark subjects that it touches on. I will preface this with a content warning for sexual assault, coercion, and mind-control, but reinforce that those are all acts of villainy. There is a lot of character growth here, and that growth is not reserved for our main characters. Definitely worth reading.

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The following review appeared on Dear Author on March 22nd, 2021.

Trigger warnings :
rape, incest, child rape, forced pregnancies, miscarriage, animal deaths, human trafficking, infanticide, prolicide

Wild Sign, Patricia Briggs's latest novel, is book six in the Alpha and Omega series. The urban fantasy series centers on a werewolf couple, the quiet, deadly Charles and the gentle but stubborn Anna. I’m always up for reading about them, so I eagerly requested an ARC of the book.

Wild Sign begins with Dr. Sissy Connors’s discovery of a small abandoned settlement in the mountains of Northern California. Sissy’s father was a resident of the tiny town of Wild Sign and he wrote her regularly. She has stopped hearing from him and so she seeks him out. All she finds are empty dwellings; no one else is there.

In the next scene, set some months before the rest of the book, a girls’ night out with two other women has Anna noticing that Leah, her stepmother-in-law, is humming a catchy, unidentifiable, haunting melody. Anna also reflects on the strange, difficult nature of her father-in-law Bran’s marriage to Leah.

The chapter after that sees two FBI agents, Leslie Fisher and Craig Goldstein, make a return appearance. They knock on Charles and Anna’s door to propose a cooperative agreement between the Marrok (the werewolves’ leader) and the FBI. Fisher and Goldstein provide Anna and Charles with the results of their investigation into the disappearance of Wild Sign’s residents since as it turns out the land where Wild Sign is located is owned by Leah.

After the agents leave, Bran tells Charles Leah’s singing disturbs him. She hummed an unsettling melody when they first met and for a little while afterward but later stopped.

Leah and Bran’s first meeting took place two centuries earlier, in the same place now known as Wild Sign. Bran was filled with grief for his deceased mate and not thinking clearly. His friend Sherwood Post had fought and (hopefully) defeated an evil being in those mountains but women and children had died there, including a child of Leah’s. Leah, the only survivor, was at death’s door, and Sherwood too was dying. They were bonded and Bran could not save one without the other. He had to make Leah his mate to save his friend.

But it is now clear that Sherwood never truly defeated the evil that lurked at Wild Sign. He has lost all memories of that time so he can’t provide information about it, either. Even Leah’s memories of it are at best hazy and patchy. Bran wants Charles and Anna to poke around those mountains and see what they can learn.

Anna and Charles bring Tag with them even though his berserker nature is a powder keg; he has some resistance to magic and that may be helpful. The three find mysterious and confusing signs in the abandoned town. All the compost toilets have been emptied and the dogs lovingly put down and placed together, as if the residents of the town prepared for leaving—or for death. But their beloved possessions were left behind, as if the people left in a hurry.

In the area’s natural amphitheater, Anna’s mind is invaded by something evil. She reexperiences her worst, most heartbreaking moment, a night when she was about to be gang raped. Bite marks crop up on her shoulder afterward and she does not recognize Charles. All this scares Charles and Tag. Anna’s memory returns later but all three are on edge when they leave their camp to continue the investigation by interviewing the family members of Wild Sign’s missing residents.

Meanwhile, Leah too is on a journey, one that takes her character from a horrific past into what may be an uncertain future.

Did the residents of Wild Sign survive? What will Charles, Anna and Tag learn when they question the townspeople’s relatives? Will Tag keep control of his berserker wolf? What happened in Leah’s past? What is the evil that stalks the people in the mountains, and how much damage will its fixation on Anna cause her and Charles?

I liked a lot of things in this book. Charles and Anna’s dynamic was good, as always. Anna’s past comes back to haunt them, and I loved the way they handled that together. I love how respectful Charles is of Anna’s boundaries and how hard he works to balance his protective tendencies with the understanding that to overprotect her would be harmful.

I love too that Anna and Charles always have each other’s back. Their partnership is a big part of what makes me prefer the Alpha and Omega books to the Mercy books. I’ve only read the first four of the latter but in them Mercy endures scary, painful, and sometimes even horrific things and while Adam is supportive, his support isn’t always there when she most needs it. There to pick up the pieces later, yes, appreciative and admiring, yes. But he’s not there at her back, keeping an eye out for what might be hurting or troubling her, the way Anna and Charles are for each other.

This is a partial review. You can find the entire review here

A second post on Leah and Bran's relationships and the revelations on this book (also from March 22nd) can be found here:

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I thought this book was fantastic. In reading reviews from some of my book friends, I realize, though, it may not be for everyone. There are dark twists and turns here for sure. Rape. The theft of will and consent. The death of children. So if any of that is a hard pass for you, maybe you should skip this one.

But. I was glued to the page. Patty Briggs is an amazing storyteller. She has crafted characters and a core romance I believe in and care about. The plot and surrounding mystery, though admittedly disturbing, pulled me in and kept me invested from the first page to the last. And the book sets up so many possibilities for the stories to come.

Anna and Charles (along with Tag) are investigating a town that has disappeared. OK... the town is still there, but all the people are gone. It also just so happens that this was the same place where Leah, Bran's mate, was found 200 years ago. Only, she barely remembers anything about it. The entity tied to the town manipulates memories and music in order to feed its power. And the specifics of how and why are, well, see the dark and twisty disclaimer stuff mentioned above.

I noticed in the last book that Briggs was working toward making Leah less of a cardboard cutout villain. Here, she is downright sympathetic. Her hardness is a shell, and one that was built to protect her from legit angst. Does that make it ok that she was awful to Mercy and Charles while they were growing up? Of course not. But man, I can't hate her either. I really liked getting this insight into her her character. Bran's too, though, he doesn't come off looking his best here.

I love, love, love the relationship between Anna and Charles. They are such complements to one another, and seeing their faith, trust, and devotion to each other is lovely. I adored the growing role of Brother Wolf as well, and how he feels like his own character, while still a part of Charles.

And that ending? I can't say if I want more of what happened in the epilogue with Samuel or more of what happened with Bran and Leah. That's a lie. I want both. I don't want to wait two years for it either.

But I have no doubt it will be worth the wait. With this series, it always is.

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"Wild Sign" by Patricia Briggs
Wow! I loved this so much. Once again, Anna and Charles are sent to solve a mystery for Bran which never gets old in my opinion. This time, however, we get to learn more about Leah and where she came from and why she is the way she is. I have never liked her throughout all of the Mercy Thompson books and the Alpha & Omega series as well. Now, I understand her more. I don't know if I'll ever like her, but I can sympathize with her character. The teaser with Samuel was an added benefit as well. I can't wait to read the next book!

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Patricia Briggs' Alpha and Omega and Mercy Thompson series are two of a handful of series that I have on automatic pre-order, so I was incredibly excited to receive an ARC!
Wild Sign follows and calls back to the events in Burn Bright. Taking place in California, Wild Sign continues to weave European folklore and monsters with those that were here before the invasion. We get to know a lot more about Leah, which is nice since our limited exposure to her in previous books has been less than pleasant. I really can't comment more on the plot without given details away (or repeating the publisher's blurb). I really enjoy this series, and this latest entry is no exception. Really my only quibble was not realizing the significance of a secondary's character's introduction. I thought perhaps he'd been mentioned in a previous novel that I'd since forgotten.
Thank you *very much* to Berkley Publishing Group and NetGalley for the ARC!!

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As usual, Briggs delivers another excellent entry into the series. Absolutely nothing to complain about here, it’s another great chapter in Anna and Charles story. Their relationship continues to be well developed, the plot & villain were mysterious and scary, and the world building got a few excellent developments as well, making me eager for the next story. Some threads of other characters got interesting weaves too, especially Leah and Samuel. Another five star book from Patricia Briggs

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Wild Sign by Patricia Briggs: Fantastic Relationships, Intrigue
Mated werewolves Charles Cornick and Anna Latham must discover what could make an entire community disappear--before it's too late--in this thrilling entry in the #1 New York Times bestselling Alpha and Omega series.
In the wilds of the Northern California mountains, all the inhabitants of a small town have gone missing. It's as if the people picked up and left their possessions behind. With a mystery on their hands and no jurisdiction on private property, the FBI dumps the whole problem in the lap of the land owner, Aspen Creek, Inc.--aka the business organization of the Marrok's pack.
Somehow, the pack of the Wolf Who Rules is connected to a group of vanished people. Werewolves Charles Cornick and Anna Latham are tasked with investigating, and soon find that a deserted town is the least of the challenges they face.
Death sings in the forest, and when it calls, Charles and Anna must answer. Something has awakened in the heart of the California mountains, something old and dangerous--and it has met werewolves before.

I find there is little Patricia Briggs writes that I do not find compelling and engaging. But this book, in particular, grabbed me from the very beginning and would not let go. The story introduces itself with the disappearance of the town by one of the individual’s daughters. It then loops back to Bran's pack and more importantly, why a pack in Oregon owns a piece of land in California. And fascinatingly enough, the answer ties back to Bran’s mate, Leah.
I think for me, it is the questions that Patricia Briggs raises and the way she answers them in the story that makes her books so intriguing. Her action and pacing are perfect to keep you on the edge of your seat, trying to puzzle out the answers to the mysteries in the book and oh, are there mysteries plenty in this book. As Anna and Charles attempt to find out what happened to the town, other mysteries awaken and as readers we are plunged headlong into a story that kept me guessing until the very end who and what the pack find themselves involved with.
Beyond the plot, which is fantastic and since it involves mysteries, I cannot give more away, the relationships in the story are also especially important. The relationship between Charles and Anna, and the relationship between Bran and Leah. And in one of the more intriguing developments, we finally learn why Bran has stayed mated with Leah, despite their lack of commonality or even apparent passion. I love the way that Patricia Briggs develops the relationship between Charles and Anna. It is one of equals, of respect and love, and clearly coming from an author that understands a loving, committed relationship, one in which there are ups and downs but most importantly, one in which the relationship is strong and caring. As an example of pairings, I love this couple so much in how their relationship remains caring and strong, even as they are sent on missions for the pack.
Between the mysteries, and the development of the characters, this book was exquisitely written. The descriptions and action keep you engaged, the plot keeps you guessing and I love the way music is such a woven element of the story due to Anna’s background. Especially in this story, music plays a huge role in both how the characters figure out the mystery and how they fight the antagonist. If you like urban fantasy with loving characters, intrigue and passion, I strongly recommend Patricia Briggs series. While it is helpful to have read the previous novels, you can even enjoy this book without that prior knowledge.
Rating: 5 out of 5 songs

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Wow, doesn’t it feel like absolute ages since this series has had a new book? It honestly hasn’t been that long, but I did have trouble finding my footing when I started this book. Because of the wait, I felt like a lot of the previous events were forgotten and Briggs doesn’t really catch readers up very much with this book, so I had to go back and try to remember a lot of what has happened. That being said, I do think it’s best if the series is read in order. You’ll get a much better understanding of the characters as well as the world that way.

In this book, people are going missing. And it’s not just a few people here and there. It’s like an entire small town has disappeared and it’s very concerning. The FBI recruits Anna and Charles to help and with their shifter abilities, there’s bound to be some interesting things happening.

Despite the slow start, I felt like WILD SIGN does take its time to warm up. Charles and Anna’s books in general tend to be a little slower paced than the Mercy Thompson series so keep that in mind when reading. I do think that once it gets going, things progress much quicker and the pacing picks up. I especially think the latter half of the book shines through more than the beginning.

If you’re a lover of shifters, then you don’t want to miss out on this! I felt like I really missed this series so I’m especially glad to get another book about Charles and Anna. Next time, I hope there isn’t such a long wait between books.

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Charles Cornick and Anna Latham have come to a wilderness town to find out what happened to the local witch settlers who had hidden there for safety from black witches. Wild Sign is the story of how they went up against a mesmerizing god as a team. Great werewolf read.

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Thanks to Netgalley and Berkley Publishing Group, Ace for access to this arc.

Anna and Charles are two of my favorite fictional people and I was excited to dive into Wild Sign. I did find it completely engrossing and compelling. I ripped through the book in about 48 hours and the only reason it took that long was that I was limited in the time I had to read.

The atmosphere of the novel is super creepy – it could reasonably be described as a horror story in fact. There are a number of Lovecraft references and, while I’m far from an expert in things Lovecraftian, I know enough to know that it was a big factor in the tone you were going for here.

Anna and Charles’s love for one another continues to grow. Anna went through some pretty tough situations and the way Charles was there for her tugged at all my heartstrings and made me happy sigh (even though the situations that caused it did not.)

I love the way Charles is so strong and gentle with Anna and so fiercely protective of her even while he fully recognizes that he cannot wrap her in cotton wool. He stands at her side or at her back so she can do what she has to do.

But I was, and still am, deeply conflicted about certain things in the story.

I won’t go into the plot here too much – Anna and Charles are sent by Bran on a mission to find out what happened to a community of people who live “off grid” and on some land owned by the Pack. There’s a connection to Leah and her history. More is revealed as the story goes along – however, to explain, even briefly, what troubled me I necessarily have to disclose some spoilers.

Almost all of the female characters in Wild Sign have been or are sexually assaulted during the course of the book. Anna’s own history of sexual assault is more graphically depicted than even in Alpha & Omega or Cry Wolf and there are other assaults that occur to her in this book as well. Some aspects of this book reminded me uncomfortably of what happened to Mercy Thompson in Iron Kissed (although I hasten to add that it is only some aspects, far from all). Leah’s history is full of sexual violence and unspeakable trauma and multiple instances where her consent was violated. Other secondary characters are also raped. Having read the entire series again last year, much of it was still fairly fresh in my mind and it is difficult to not notice just how often sexual violence is used as a plot point or character device. But in Wild Sign there is so much more of it. It was difficult to read. Compelling, yes. My heart was in my throat and I was afraid for the characters and heartbroken for them – but it sometimes felt like easy manipulation and other times it just felt gratuitous. I feel like I have a fairly high threshold of what I can comfortably read – although I’m also noticing that it is lowering over time – but this was beyond my comfort levels in many ways.

There is also the matter of what I saw as Leah’s characterisation being almost completely retconned. The story told to readers about how Bran came to marry Leah over the past 17 or so books is simply not true. (I discussed my thoughts more fully in Janine’s spoilerific post about Leah and Bran’s relationship so I won’t go into it again here.)

And I found the epilogue profoundly upsetting and unsettling. Arguably, the HEA of one of the couples from the series has been broken or at least deeply damaged (not Charles and Anna – though there is a flow-on effect there too I think.) The Mercy Thompson books aren’t romance books. They’re urban fantasy and as I understand it, the UF genre doesn’t promise a HEA. But I am a romance reader and I approach the series through that lens. The romantic relationships are very important to me and, even if it is perhaps unfair given the series is not romance, my reading experience is filtered through those rose-coloured romance glasses.

After I finished the book, I wrote on Goodreads “I am not okay”. That remains true. I don’t know how to grade the book. Based purely on how engrossed I was it would be an A. However, based on how much it disturbed me (and not in the way I want to be disturbed by a book) and the extremely bittersweet epilogue (which emphasis on the bitter), I’d have to give it a D. I don’t know how to put that together.

It’s also true to say that no matter how much this book disturbed me and how upset I was and am about some aspects of the story and all the sexual violence, I will still read the next book. I do hope that Anna’s experience with sexual assault is now at an end. While I know it is not up to me, of course, I would most definitely like to see far less rape in any future books in the Mercyverse.

I think the reading experience for others will be heavily influenced by how high their squick-meters goes, what their triggers are, what value they place on the romantic arcs/HEAs, perhaps how much of the rest of the series is fresh in a reader’s mind and how that all gets mixed in with a reading experience which is nonetheless riveting and completely holds the attention – even for long after the book is done. If I didn’t care so much about the characters in this book, it would not have affected me as much. And that I care about the characters as much as I do, is all down to you as well. So… [insert shrug emoji here]

Review to be posted the last week of March.

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It wasn't that long ago that I would have started this review off by saying that while I love Patricia Briggs and her Mercy Thompson series, I wasn't a huge fan of the Alpha and Omega series because it leaned more towards paranormal romance than urban fantasy. I don't think I can claim that anymore as I'm as excited for each new Alpha and Omega release as I am for every new Mercy Thompson book. I honestly can't say when I started loving these books as much as the Mercy Thompson books but I have. I found Wild Sign by Patricia Briggs to be an absolutely fantastic book that I was unable to stop reading once I had picked it up and started.

I honestly don't know how long this review will be even as I'm typing it because I don't know how much I can talk about without spoiling major plot points for this book and series as well as the Mercy Thompson Books at all. Want to know more about how Bran met Leah and why his wolf picked her as his mate? Or have you been dying to know more information about a certain one-legged werewolf and why he can't remember any of his past? Then you definitely need to read this book. Wild Sign was such a great book and I can't help but feel that it is going to have a much larger impact on the Mercy Thompson books than the previous books in the Alpha and Omega series generally have.

I won't say any more than I have out of fear of spoiling the book for anyone who hasn't read it yet. All I will say is that if you're a fan of the Alpha and Omega series, the Mercy Thompson series, or just urban fantasy in general you will love this book. I would gladly recommend it to anyone looking for something new to read! Though I would highly recommend that you at least read the previous books in the Alpha and Omega series before you read Wild Sign (And probably the Mercy Thompson books as well).

While I'm looking forward to the new Mercy Thompson book next year, I think this may be the first time that I'm a bit bummed that it won't be another Alpha and Omega book! While I'm planning an epic reread of both series, I'm already dying to know what happens next to Anna and Charles and what kind of impact Wild Sign's events will have on Mercy and her friends.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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I find the quality (and my engagement level) with each of the books in this series wildly inconsistent. Some books I inhale with rapt attention, unable to flip through pages fast enough. Others I find dull and tangential, episodic jaunts into stories seemingly unrelated to the greater arc of the series.

Fortunately, I enjoyed Wild Sign quite a bit. It is an episodic tale featuring a trip to the wilds of California for Anna and Charles to investigate the mysterious disappearance of an entire settlement of off-the-gridders on pack land. But this paranormal mystery element of this story was one of the more enjoyable of the series for me and I always love every moment we spend with Anna and Charles as a couple.

And that ending! Two shocking bombs are dropped, so of course I'm now desperate for the next book in the series. Which, I assume, won't be out for another two or three years.

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When Charles and Anna are called to investigate a series of missing persons on pack land, they become embroiled in a mystery that has spanned generations. The people of Wild Sign have vanished and a strange power that can trap a person with music roams the land. As Charles, Anna and Tag investigate they will encounter many strange things, including black magic, bigfoot and even things from Leah's past. But how do you stop immortal creatures that can beguile with a melody?

The Alpha and Omega series is always great fun - these novels tend to hold a bit more mystery in the plot that the Mercy Thompson series. Anna and Charles have a very special relationship and I always enjoy Charles' conversations with brother Wolf. I especially enjoyed the nod to Cthulhu in this book and the plot twist with Samuel at the very end of the story - no I'm not telling, you will need to read it yourself.

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Anna and Charles are tapped by the FBI to investigate the disappearance of an entire community of people. What they discover is a strange connection to the Marrok's mate Leah. They'll have to look into her past if they want to figure out what's lurking beneath the surface of Wild Sign.

As I find often happens with this series (and it's sister Mercy Thompson series) is that it takes me a bit to get myself back up to speed with what's been happening. I think it's because the timeline with Alpha & Omega incorporates Mercy Thompson's timeline even though the two series don't specifically intersect often.

Once I remembered where we came from with everything and got into the ease of the story, I really enjoyed being back with Anna and Charles. They are two of my favorite characters and whenever I start their books again I always wish we had them more than once every other, or every few, years. And again, once I get back into the trajectory of the series, I feel like I never left it in the first place.

This time around I was super excited to see that we were going to get more info about Leah and her past. Leah has been a character that has been pegged as antagonistic towards both Mercy and Charles. Very strong-willed, and doesn't suffer for fools. Leah's character is a good reminder that we don't always know what is going on behind the closed doors of someone's life. We don't know, unless they fully share, what someone's life has been like. I'm really happy that Patricia Briggs gave Leah (in a roundabout way) a chance to have her story told. It was eye-opening, and I cannot wait to see how these revelations effect her character, and her character within the story, going forward.

I thought the whole mystery of Wild Sign to be not entirely unsurprising, but I still got caught up in it. Even though it might take me a minute to remember where we are in the series and what has transpired previously, I do really enjoy how much Patricia Briggs ties together things from past books, even small little instances, that later come about with a large impact which is the case in Wild Sign. Seeing some underlining problems that aren't as dealt with has previously thought - a la the witches problem. I like how Patricia Briggs continues to build from one thing to another and to do this in between series is a pretty fantastic feat.

Now, Charles and Anna, what can I say. I love how much they've grown together as a couple. Wild Sign in particular kind of harkened back to earlier times which made it all the more apparent how far these two have come (and also made me really want to start a re-read asap). The idea of trauma not really going away but maybe becoming a bit easier to deal with is a major theme throughout the book. The fact that Anna has found someone who will raise her up instead of cut her down, and give her the ability to take control and be in charge is great. I love seeing Anna really embracing who she is.

Overall, I love spending time with Anna and Charles. I couldn't read this book fast enough, but now that I'm finished I just wish we had more. I'll have to get on that re-read sooner rather than later.

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I loved this addition to the series. So many questions answered. So satisfying while still setting up future stories. Love!

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The sixth book in the Alpha and Omega series brought to light so many questions with the packs history. I absolutely love this series, Patricia Briggs knows her readers and her characters just keep on getting more and more colorful. The writing is always beautifully crafted, the world that Briggs has created has always kept me coming back, more layers opening with each story.

Wild Sign follows Charles and Anna, who are task with finding out what happened to a whole off the grid town that completely disappeared. The FBI bring the missing people to the packs attention, to possible form an alliance with the pack. The land the town settled on is owned by Leah, the Marrocks mate. There is something haunting about that part of land and it digs deep into something terrible that happened to Leah. Charles and Anna are strong together but they bring an ally in Tag a Berserker whom they bring along to help fight off any magic that may strike at them.

This story is probably the most suspenseful one for me in the series, I was seriously worries about my favorite Alpha and Omega, the big bad they are up against is not something they have ever encountered before. There are past enemies that arise, the trio are tested with a magic that causes memory loss and strain. But more so it brought back something in Leah, whom the readers I feel have never fully understood in the past book, she gets what I feel a well deserved Origin. I actually finally understood her tension being in the pack and with Bran and I seriously hope some resolve happens after the book because I want some peace for her.

The ending shocked me the most, a hug twist in the ever growing story development with the pack and the mercy-verse. A well loved character makes a shocking entry that I feel will change a lot for the future books and I seriously cannot wait to see how this develops. In the end Wild Signs was a fantastically complex story full of myths and suspense, one of my favorite Urban Fantasy reads of 2021 and if you haven't started this series or Briggs' Mercy series you need to get your hands on these books asap!

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One of the scariest, powerful werewolves shares a deep and committed mate bond with an Omega wolf who has come into her own. They are sent into the Northern California wilderness to investigate the disappearance of an off-grid group and chase down the truth about what lurks there in the mountains. A new, tantalizing adventure with one of my favorite werewolf couples, more monster lore to explore, and a clever paranormal adventure to keep me riveted.

Wild Sign is the sixth Alpha and Omega and the eighteenth in the combined Mercy Thompson world. Not only does this book work best when read in order, it works even better when the reader treats both series as one and reads them all in release order.

Music was Anna Cornick’s career path before her change and it still runs through her deeply. Music is a lovely courtship game she plays with her husband and mate, it is startling when the Marrock’s mate Leah hums an unknown tune on a gal’s trip to town, and it seems to be a strong element in the situations she and Charles have been sent to figure out.

It all began when two FBI agents approach her and Charles with hints of a potential human US government and werewolf alliance that they sincerely doubt, but as an expression of goodwill the agents inform them that a whole bunch of humans living in an off grid settlement in Northern California land owned by the wolves have disappeared.
Bran chooses Anna, Charles, and the berserker-like Tag to go check things out and is more mysterious and abrupt than usual because that land is not unfamiliar. He brought back Leah as his mate when she was found as a lone survivor in a pioneer group on that very land. The wolf who saved her, Sherwood Post, and Leah herself claim blanks in their memories about that time. Armed with this and then encountering a unique local group of supernaturals nearby the Wild Sign camp, they slowly work out that something old and powerful is stirring in those hills once again.

Charles has seen his mate endure much without breaking and she is now healthy, happy and accepting of who she has become, but a nasty, dangerous encounter during their investigation tears all her hard earned strength and happiness from her in an instant. The haunted look of horrific memories is back in her eyes and her body flinches away. He will be ruthless to protect his mate. As they learn more about their adversary, it may not be enough.

Wild Sign is Charles and Anna’s story and I loved spending time with them in tender, fun moments at home, but also taking care of business as a team on the road. They have hit their stride understanding each other so well. They face a bit of a crisis when the thing they pursue uses them against themselves. This story dug deep into personal and relationship emotions as a result.

But, the added surprise was that this was also partly Leah and Bran’s history together. All this time, the reader was told in brief explanations why they are mated and the way they are, but finally the details are teased out so the true picture is nothing like what I had been imagining. It was not a pretty past and Leah is a true survivor just like the strong Cornick’s around her. Bran had done what he had to do and it was grim and now the past has returned and those involved have to deal with it.

And, there’s more. Sherwood Post plays a role and it was as mysterious as he is. Yes, and there is more familiar names both welcome and not showing up to complicate matters.

The climax comes on the heals of a stunning surprise twist and it was a heart-thumping tension-filled and emotional sequence full of all that readers anticipate in a book by this author. When all was said and done, I was left reeling from what happened to how things will be affected from here on out. There are at least three things that I need to know and will be fretting for the next book so I can find out.

All in all, Wild Sign was absolutely fabulous- strong and complex, full of myth and mystery, and characters that only leaving me wanting more. The world of these stories is amazing beyond description and urban fantasy lovers really need to give these a try.

I rec’d the book through Net Galley to read in exchange for an honest review.

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This might be my favorite of the Charles and Anna books from Patricia Briggs. The hallmarks of what I love about her storytelling are there—clever twists, deepening of character development, an ever-expanding world—but she also really leans into crafting some new places and ideas that I can't stop thinking about.

Charles and Anna's trust fuels some really great buddy cop work as they investigate the disappearance of the residents of Wild Sign and the chemistry between these two continues to be a reason to be glued to the pages.

Bonus points for a very chatty Brother Wolf and an epilogue that kicks down the door for the next story arc.

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The Call of the Wild (Singer):

A woman goes hiking with her dog in the northern California mountains, searching for the hidden settlement her father calls home. After a long search she finds the encampment — really a small town — but her father is gone, along with every other person who lived in Wild Sign. Some time later, two FBI agents pay a surprise visit to Anna and Charles Cornick in Aspen Creek, Montana. The agents lay their cards on the table: The FBI is looking for an alliance with the werewolves, and because of past interactions they’ve concluded that Anna is likely the Marrok, the werewolf who rules them all (which leads to an amusing scene with Bran Cornick, who is).

The agents suggest that the werewolves might be interested in helping to investigate the disappearance of the town of Wild Sign, especially since part of the town was located on land now owned by the Marrok’s pack, and originally owned by Leah Cornick, Bran’s mate. What the FBI agents don’t know, but Bran does, is that Leah has been singing disturbing music ever since April, the time of the last communication from someone living in Wild Sign.

Some type of great power is in the area of Wild Sign, and has been for at least two hundred years, Bran explains to Charles, bringing death and misery to the humans it meets. And now it’s waking up again.

So Anna and Charles, along with a third werewolf named Tag, who has some barely-controlled berserker tendencies but also a useful resistance to magic, take a road trip to the northern California wilderness to investigate the mass disappearance of the inhabitants of Wild Sign, and find out what it has to do with the long-ago, dark history of their alpha’s mate, Leah, and the mysterious werewolf Sherwood Post, who’s been haunting the pages of the last several books in this series.

Wild Sign is the sixth novel in Patricia Briggs’ ALPHA AND OMEGA fantasy series, or the seventh if you count the 2007 introductory novella, Alpha & Omega (which you should) … or the eighteenth if you include the closely-intertwined MERCY THOMPSON series (which you also should). It’s a pleasure to see the way Charles and Anna have grown and changed, individually and as a couple, over the course of this series. Anna has grown far more confident, and she plays a vital role in increasing not just the peacefulness, but the happiness, of Bran’s entire wolf pack. Even when events occur in California that almost literally take her back to her time with the abusive werewolf pack in Chicago, where we first met Anna in "Alpha and Omega," the set-back is temporary. Charles has always been Anna’s protector, but he’s able to watch Anna take the initiative and take pride in her strength.

Tag is an interesting character in his own right, though I didn’t feel that we really got to know him all that well in Wild Sign. The real illumination for readers is in Leah’s newly-disclosed backstory and the insights given into her thoughts and personality. Leah, who’s always been defined by her selfishness and harsh coldness, is clearly in the process of getting a redemption arc here which, well, Briggs has bitten off a lot there. But it’s working for me. Leah’s story is both painful and humanizing for her character.

There’s also a cameo appearance or two by a new magical race in California that (I’m slightly embarrassed to admit) made me squee out loud. They’re a delightful addition to this series, and I hope we meet them again. Less pleasant, but equally compelling, are the black witches, including more of the Hardesty clan that has caused so much trouble for the werewolves in the last few books. They are truly, irredeemably evil … even to their own.

Wild Sign is a fascinating story, hard to put down. But, fair warning, the darkness and horror vibes are especially strong with this novel. The horror includes trigger-warning types of events, like (minor spoilers here) (view spoiler). Briggs grapples with serious issues in this series and this book in particular, and she never lets favorite characters off the hook. Still, there’s an underlying optimism and hopefulness that ultimately carries the day in Briggs’ books.

Some highly interesting events happen at the end of Wild Sign, especially with the epilogue, that open up all sorts of intriguing options for later books. I’m glad Briggs comes out with these MERCY THOMPSON and ALPHA AND OMEGA books about once a year! They make up one — or maybe two, depending on how you slice it — of my very favorite urban fantasy series.

4.5 stars

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