Moon Called is Book One in Patricia Briggs’ Mercedes Thompson series. It came HIGHLY recommended by two fellow bibliophiles. Still, one look at the cover, and I was dubious. It looks pretty damn trashy. But, hey, I like the occasional trashy novel when I’m in the mood to not tax my brain cells with reading material. After reading a fair number of non-fictions lately, I was in the mood for a nice, easy, probably trashy read (especially after having my appetite whetted for supernatural fiction by Charlaine Harris’ latest Sookie Stackhouse book). (NOTE: Sookie’s not trashy.)
Well, two outta three ain’t bad. Despite the cover (and I have to admit, I did feel the need to try to hide the cover), this isn’t a trashy novel at all. It’s definitely a nice easy read, but trashy isn’t in the picture. Not one character got laid. Plenty died, though.
Here’s a quick capture of the universe of Moon Called…
The book is set in some area in the US called the Tri-Cities (with a short stint in Montana). There are supernatural creatures of several different varieties, including the fae (this is a pretty broad group, including trolls and gremlins and a LOT of others), werewolves, witches, vampires, and one skinwalker (our heroine, Mercedes “Mercy” Thompson). A skinwalker is a person who can change herself into a coyote at will. (This is part of some Native American folklore, which I had vaguely heard of before.) The “Grey Lords” (the leaders of the fae) had recently allowed human beings to know that some of the weaker, cuter and cuddlier fae existed. The bigger, badder things are still in hiding however. Werewolves and vampires are also still in hiding.
That’s basically the beginning background for Mercy’s story. She’s a great, sympathetic character. She was brought up with the werewolves because that group was as close to what she is as her mother was able to find (her mother has no interesting abilities that the reader is aware of – Mercy’s talents apparently come from her father, who died in a car accident shortly after she was conceived). She’s independent by nature, but growing up with such a close-knit group seems to have kept her from being obnoxiously independent. She’s college-educated (majored in History), and runs her own garage where fixes foreign cars (she majored in History, after all).
It’d be tempting for the author to really beat the reader over the head with the high-strangeness going on in the book – essentially screaming “Hey!! Werewolf over there!!” and “Because he’s a VAMPIRE/GREMLIN/500 FOOT STAY PUFT MARSHMELLOW MAN!!” at every turn, but Briggs’ resists. Where she does bring supernatural elements into the story, the elements make sense (for the most part – I’m guessing that the one that I felt wasn’t fully explained was left for fodder for future novels).
Overall, I’d say that this is a pretty good start for a series. The universe has been nicely mapped out with a lot of potential for action in the near future. The main character is compelling. The mystery in the book was less interesting that the titular character, to be honest, but I’m not willing to let that ruin the fun. Because the book was pretty fun.
I’ll be picking up the second and third novels from the library this evening. Reports to follow!