Sunday, February 19, 2017

REVIEW | Moon Called by Patricia Briggs

Moon Called by Patricia Briggs
Publication Year: 2006
Genre: Fiction, Urban Fantasy
Series: Mercy Thompson #1
Awards: None
Format: EBook (from Library)
Narrator: NA

WHY?: I'm actually a bit of a noob when it comes to Urban Fantasy. For a long while I thought I hated it.  Series like Ben Aaronovitch's Peter Grant and Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels series won me over and based on that, particularly KD, most people recommend this series.  I've been meaning to start it for a good long while.  

SYNOPSIS:  Most of the time Mercy is a relatively talented Volkswagen mechanic in Tri-Cities, Washington.  She owns her own shop and lives mostly quietly.  But her life hasn't always been quiet because she's a walker - a shape-shifter that can turn into a coyote.  Not very strong but rare, and because of this she is mostly raised in a pack of werewolves living in the Rocky Mountains. She also happens to live right next door to the Tri-Cities Werewolf Pack Alpha. So when a teenage boy wanders into her shop she knows right off he's a werewolf even though he seems clueless.  She hooks him up with her neighbor Adam, none of them realizing that the boy brings with him a whole heap of trouble.  

Right off the bat I have to say - is that cover ridiculous or what?  People can dress how they like but who in their right mind wears a mechanic's shirt, with nametag, in the style of some kind of deranged Daisy Duke?  And with a push-up bra no less?  Seriously what the what is going on there?  This cover is what gave me pause about reading this series for so long because while folks can dress as they like I wasn't sure I would enjoy hanging out with a person who would dress so impractically in order to work on cars.  If you have similar misgivings, let me put your mind at rest - I'm pretty sure Mercy Thompson wouldn't be caught dead in the above outfit.  She spends much of this book in a stained t-shirt and jeans and is very down to earth and practical.  I liked her.  Pretty much immediately.

And that's important because Mercy is the heroine of and the reader's entry point into this Urban Fantasy series that takes place in a modern day U.S. that's pretty regular except that many of the supernatural denizens of the country have "come out".  I liked the conceit that they have been forced to reveal themselves to the human society because the advancement of technology and surveillance has become such that they could no longer stay hidden.  Among the werewolves and vampires, gremlins and fae, Mercy is actually pretty unique.  She's a rare kind of shape-shifter that is known as a Walker and I loved that while she's got some magic and can take the shape of coyote she's actually much weaker than most other supernatural creatures.  This being an Urban Fantasy though, she is of course a real bad-ass but most of that is because she's smart, stubborn and brave. That paired with her salt-of-the-earth persona make her a more-than-acceptable heroine to head up the cast. First hurdle of writing a good Urban Fantasy series cleared! Phew!

The rest of the cast is okay thus far. I really liked, Adam, the Alpha of the local werewolf pack and Mercy's neighbor.  He's menacing and domineering but understated enough that it lends him, if anything, an air of more authority and also makes him more likeable.  Not as crazy about her old flame from her youth but do like the complexity and uniqueness of their former and current relationship.

The uniqueness stems from the culture Briggs creates for her werewolves and all the other supernatural creatures, though the only other group we get a real peek at are the vampires.  Briggs has obviously taken time to really think out what kinds of societies she thinks these supernatural folk would have.  She does a great job of keeping it recognizable; i.e. she doesn't stray too far from established mythology, but she does imbue a depth and complexity to how that mythology would really work for every day living.  I look forward to getting deeper into this world!

Finally, there's the story.  It's fine.  It's action packed and follows the formula of a mystery/crime procedural which is par for the course in many UFs.  In this first book a lot of heavy lifting must be done to introduce all the major players and the world they are playing in and Briggs does a great job doing that thoroughly while also keeping the plot moving along.  The pacing was pretty good and the mystery format kept me turning pages.

FINAL VERDICT:  A great introductory book to what promises to be a fun Urban Fantasy series.  It is distinguished for a lead character that is easy to get behind and a complex world that really explores the mythology of supernatural societies in the midst of a modern day U.S.A. 4 out of 5 stars.
Other Opinions Are Available: Dear Author | SF Reviews | Fantasy Cafe

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