Moon Called (Mercy Thompson, book 1), by Patricia Briggs

Patricia Briggs has written, purchase in addition to this series, resuscitator several highly-rated high fantasy volumes, obesity and she was also on my list of ‘writers I’d get around to reading eventually’. The Mercy Thompson books, which are urban fantasy, came recommended by other review sites, and ‘eventually’ came around. Briggs lives in the Pacific Northwest, and has degrees in German and history.

Mercedes (Mercy) Thompson is a Walker — of Native American descent, she can turn into a coyote, but she’s not a werecoyote: her shifts aren’t tied to anything, and she was born that way. Like most people with few manners, she was raised by wolves — well, werewolves. She works as an auto mechanic during the day, and it is at this day job that she meets a young man named Mac, a new werewolf. He needed somewhere to stay and something to do, because he was so new that he didn’t know a darned thing about being a werewolf. Mercy just happens to live right next door to the local pack Alpha, and she eventually gets the boy to Adam. Unfortunately, that was after Mercy had killed a werewolf, but not one of Adam’s pack, luckily. That werewolf — and those who had turned Mac into a werewolf — were involved in some sort of conspiracy, that culminated in Adam being attacked and his 15-year-old human daughter, Jesse, being kidnapped. Can Mercy save Adam and rescue Jesse without getting killed?

This book reminded me a lot of the Laurell K. Hamilton books. There are many different kinds of supernaturals: fae, Walkers, werewolves, vampires. They generally don’t trust each other; the vampires are sort of a mob. In Mercy’s world, it’s the fae who came out of the supernatural closet first, not the vampires. It’s not going so well for the everyday fae, like the schoolteachers and the like. However, werewolves are still in the closet, and there are so few of Mercy’s kind that she hasn’t even met any other.

Where it differs from the LKH books is that it’s much better-written. Briggs’s style isn’t that different from Kelley Armstrong’s; they both use long(ish) sentences instead of Hamilton’s fragments. Mercy reminds me a little of Anita in that she’s of a fairly rare supernatural type, that she’s half-blood something, and that she goes to church and believes in something. However, Mercy is a true predator, a coyote, and Anita is not.

Somehow, with all those parallels to Hamilton’s world, the book still came across as fresh and exciting. I can’t understand that, because there was even a pseudo-love triangle set up near the end, and a visit with a vampire that was frighteningly parallel to the one in Bloody Bones (the fifth Anita Blake book). While the Anita Blake books broke new ground, as far as I can tell, the only new thing about Mercy Thompson was that she was a Walker rather than a were-anything. Again, I’m a little confused, because in so many ways, as I read the book, Moon Called seemed like the original and the Anita Blake books the copy.

One small line bothered me a bit, though. Mercy, the auto mechanic, made some offhanded comment about how all cars named after animals were lemons. Well, I discussed it with Ben, who knows more about cars than any other computer geek I’ve ever met, and we came up with a list of cars named after animals that were not lemons, including the entire Jaguar line, the Mustang, and yes, even Mercy’s maligned VW Rabbit.

In any case, I’d definitely recommend this to fans of urban fantasy. There’s a bit of violence — actually, a fair amount — but relatively no sex (I usually prefer the opposite proportions). People who enjoyed the Anita Blake series (especially the early ones) would also enjoy this, as would fans of Kelley Armstrong and Kim Harrison. 4.5/5 stars.

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