Werewolves, Vampires, and Coyotes… the world of Mercy Thompson is full of many things that go bump in the night; some are new twists on classic favorites, and some borrow from myth, legend, and tradition without much embellishment–some cultures and their stories simply do not need them.
Moon Called is the first book of the Mercy Thompson series, and dumps us headfirst into the world of the paranormal and supernatural. Unlike the normal fantasy fare, Mercy Thompson is a walker–a coyote walker–in a world where werewolves rule over most canines. To werewolves, coyotes are prey, and Mercy Thompson survives in the Tri-Cities with a little help from Adam, the Alpha male of the Columbia Basin werewolf pack. With the pack's protection, and an arrangement with the local vampire seethe, Mercy works and lives as a Volkswagen mechanic.
The story begins when Mercy meets Mac, a very young werewolf who is on the run, without a pack to help him control his wolf. When she asks Adam for help, she doesn't anticipate how much trouble Mac will bring to her door.
The story is written in an interesting style; it blends present and past tenses as appropriate to the story, an interesting technique I've never really seen used elsewhere–at least not without making me flinch a lot. Patricia Briggs does a masterful job at it, although there are a few times where I did wince at the shift in tenses.
It's a quirk to Briggs' writing that makes her stories unique–and intense.
But what I think I enjoy most about Moon Called is the use of stereotypes and tropes, twisted in such a way where the story feels very unique–all the while remaining on familiar, comfortable ground. This is a good thing. It makes Moon Called an easy read, and very easy to get absorbed into, without the reader being forced to think too hard to understand how the world works. Now, I'll be honest here–I enjoy when stories make me think and work to understand them. That's why I like Jim Butcher's stories–I have to work to follow the threads, and I like that.
But Briggs manages to use comfortable ground to propel the story forward, and the depth I like is built from novel to novel, with crossovers from Mercy Thompson's series to Alpha and Omega, which focuses on Anna and Charles. One thing that bothers me—a little—is that I walked away feeling like the twist and conclusion could have had a bit more punch.
But I'm a picky reader. Those who just want a really good story will likely enjoy Moon Called–as well as the later novels in the Mercy Thompson Series.
Now, that said, there is one thing about Moon Called that I found a little saddening; there are romantic elements at play, but as a general rule, there are very few surprises in the romance department; it's so straight forward that you would have to have skimmed every page of the book not to figure out who was partnering with whom. Mercy is given a harem of potential lover boys, but from the very start, it's pretty obvious which male she's most likely to hunt as much as she's being hunted.
Still, I enjoyed the story quite a bit–and there are a lot of good things going for this plot, even considering the fact there are times where I felt it could be a lot more complex.
Some people may not agree with me, but I find this is one of those cozy urban fantasies–the type you read when you want to get lost in another world and forget about your own for a while. I first read Moon Called in an airport, and trust me on this one, there's definitely reason to want to get lost in a good story. Moon Called delivered.
I recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys urban fantasy with some thriller and horror components. It also has romance and mystery; in short, I feel this type of story is about life, which is more than one simple classification–a life full of werewolves, vampires, and coyotes, of course.
This book was a very quick read for me; without skimming (as I will skim if my attention wanders… it didn't in this novel) it took me about two to two and a half hours to work my way through. Quick, but entirely enjoyable.
I enjoyed Moon Called the first time I read it… and the second… and the third… and the fourth.
For those who care, it is written in first person.
I recommend it.