Real fairy tales are not happily-ever-after stories of beautiful princesses being rescued by knights on white horses. Real fairy tales are dark, painful, and bloody. Every action has a consequence, and those consequences are often nasty, ugly, brutal. The worst Ariel has to endure in Disney's Little Mermaid is leaving behind her singing crab friend beneath the sea. In Anderson's Little Mermaid, accepting the gift of legs means she must feel the agony of sharp swords every time she sets one foot in front of the other. (Not to mention the fact that she doesn't even get the guy.) In fairy tales people cut off pieces of their own bodies in the quest to get what they want. There are witches that eat little children and fathers who allow those children to be left alone in the woods to be eaten. Fairy tales may or may not be suitable for children, but they are certainly not for the squeamish or the faint of heart, no matter the age.
Patricia Briggs does the traditional fairy tale one better, and posits a world in which the ogres and trolls and fairies are real, not metaphor, and reality sure ain’t pretty. In Iron Kissed Mercy Thompson goes head to head with the fae. In order to pay off a debt she is called in to help sniff out whoever’s been killing fae on their reservation, commonly known as Fairyland. She learns many intriguing things about the fae, among them the fact that they seem to be using the concentration of their collective power on the reservation to open links to an ancient other-world called Underhill. Mercy stumbles into Underhill briefly, but one hopes that deeper glimpses of it will come in subsequent books. Additionally, Mercy learns that her old friend Zee is indeed as ancient and powerful as she'd suspected...and boy is he scary.
Once again, an intelligent and satisfying read. And, thankfully, by novel's end Mercy is poised to make her choice between suitors.