Moon Called by Patricia Briggs
If your taste is Urban Fantasy, then this book checks all the right boxes.
Moon Called is the first book in the Mercedes Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t usually seek out a series to read, especially when the series is based on a repeating character and not necessarily a continuing story. That said, I enjoyed Moon Called.
I rate it 20 out of a possible 25. (see My Book Reviews for rating explanation)
The premise: Moon Called is told in first-person narrative by Mercedes Thompson, amply nicknamed Mercy in the story, and takes place in the upper Northwest. She’s a mechanic, which I thought was super cool, and she’s also a shape-shifter who can transform into a Coyote. When a young werewolf arrives at her doorstep seeming lost, she tries to help him. But when the young werewolf ends up murdered and the teenage daughter of a local werewolf alpha (the pack leader) is kidnapped, Mercy must act and prevent the delicate balance of the underworld from spiraling out of control.
As a first book in the Mercy Thompson series, Moon Called does an excellent job of laying the groundwork for Mercy’s character. I felt connected to her. Not only is the story compelling, it also contains the right elements of Urban Fantasy with werewolves, witches, vampires, and more.
Most importantly, it isn’t cheesy or campy in the way it’s told. I enjoyed the unique spins on werewolves and vampires, and since the story is told completely from Mercy’s point of view, it works because these creatures have been part of her life from the beginning.
The writing is wonderful. The characters are believable and interesting (assuming you’re okay with creatures of the night). It’s just a good, fun story. One other thing I’ll point out (and that I was impressed with) – it’s a clean story. Most shocking, and a testament to the strength of the writing, is how much I hardly noticed the lack of vulgarity, gratuitous sex, or unnecessary violence. I don’t usually enjoy novels that purposefully avoid vulgarity simply because it comes off as inauthentic… hardened war veterans spouting things like, oh poop, or shucks… cops battling alcoholism or bartenders uttering terms like heck and darn it. I don’t buy it. But I’m telling you right now, Patricia Briggs pulls it off quite well.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating the use of vulgarity or that it’s necessary, I’m just saying that when narration or dialogue is not true to character, it pulls me out of the story.
One thing I especially enjoyed was Mercy’s vulnerability. Her character wasn’t some badass chick able to kick the hell out of anyone who crossed her path. In fact, far from it. Granted, she possessed shape-shifting abilities, which would certainly be handy sometimes, but against werewolves and vampires, transforming into a measly little coyote didn’t give her the upper-hand in a fight. She had to outsmart her opponents, which is my favorite type of female heroine.
Patricia Briggs delivered on this one!
Here are my thoughts and ratings on Moon Called.
Craft (4) – Very-well written! Descriptive vocabulary and concise sentences flowed well throughout. I felt at times it could use a little more description since this world is so fantastical and required a lot of imagination, which is good, but occasionally, I wanted to be told what was there and what it looked like. Patricia killed it on dialogue! I learned a lot reading this one.
Pace (4) – The pacing was terrific. Never boring or wandering around. In fact, there were a couple of times when the story out-paced my ability to keep up with it and I found myself rereading a page or a few paragraphs to get reoriented. Nothing terrible, just something I ran into.
Characters (3) – After all my build-up of how great Mercy’s character was, and I give this a “3”. What gives? This could very well be just me and my short attention span, but I got confused several times. I’ve ran into this before in other stories where the characters get jumbled up in my mind and I forget who’s who. Several times I had to go back and get reacquainted with a character so I understood their role in the story. Especially with all the double-crossing, betrayals, etc.
Story (5) – The story is pure entertainment. I write in the Urban Fantasy market, so perhaps I’m simply in awe of Patricia’s ability to think so in-depth. She brings this world to life and blends all of these creatures into a realistic story that simply works.
Ending (4) – Great ending. I didn’t feel robbed or betrayed. Plot lines didn’t twist for the sake of twisting and characters didn’t die simply for shock value. It wrapped fairly well. Admittedly, I’d hoped for an enemy more sinister and so I had a slight pang of disappointment that the antagonist was so tame, but it worked and it made sense. Making sense is a big deal with an ending.
I enjoyed this book. It is very genre specific, so if you don’t like the idea of werewolves, vampires, witches, and shapeshifters, then you might be a little put-off. All of these creatures are just part of everyday life in Mercy’s story. But if Urban Fantasy is your thing, you’ll enjoy this one. And, if you’re a writer, you’ll learn a lot reading Patricia Briggs.
My vote - Get It!
Feel free to leave your thoughts. As always, I’d love to hear them.