Mercy Thompson isn't your ordinary car mechanic. She's a skinwalker who was raised by werewolves and has been befriended by vampires. In Moon Called, the first entry in Patricia Briggs's urban fantasy series, some of the Fae folk have outed themselves to humans, but werewolves, vampires, and walkers haven't. Thus when the local Alpha male werewolf is the victim of a failed coup d'etat, resulting in the kidnapping of his daughter, the pack can't go to the police for help. Mercy, however, is in a unique position to help . . . but only if the weres will let her.
One of my good friends has been trying to get me to read Patricia Briggs for years. I've resisted, not because I thought the books sounded uninteresting but because I didn't think I needed to get involved in another urban fantasy series. In addition, thanks to the current rage in paranormals, I doubted I'd find anything new. Good thing my friend's persistent or I would have missed out on a smart, action-packed novel.
What makes Moon Called different? A couple of things. Mercy Thompson is a great character: smart, strong, no-nonsense, and streetwise. Furthermore, there aren't too many female piston-head heroines out there, and Native American skinwalkers don't often appear in urban fantasies. Part of what makes Mercy appealing is her desire to live as normal (that is, human) a life as possible, despite the fact that vampires and other Fae tend to bring their cars to her garage.
The book is narrated by Mercy, and here is a hint at her personality:
Insulting witches is right up there on the stupid list with enraging Alpha werewolves and cuddling with a new wolf next to a dead body: all of which I'd done tonight. I couldn't help it, though. Defiance was a habit I'd developed to preserve myself while growing up with a pack of dominant and largely male werewolves. Werewolves, like other predators, respect bravado. If you are too careful not to anger them, they'll see it as a weakness--and weak things are prey.The storyline itself is complex and involves information about vampires and werewolves in American and how the skinwalkers, unique to the Western Hemisphere, differ from their Old World brethren. Politics, jealousy, prejudice, and a little romance drive the story, as Mercy and her friends try to figure out who's been killing wolves before anyone else gets hurt.
Tomorrow I was going to repair old cars and keep my head down for a while. I'd used up all my luck tonight. (pp. 49-50).
Although some of the needed background sections are slightly slow, the dialogue and action scenes quickly brought me right back into the plot. Moon Called will appeal to those who like strong women characters, urban fantasies, mysteries, and/or paranormals.
I listened to the unabridged audio edition (Penguin Audiobooks; 9 hr, 14 min) read by veteran narrator Lorelei King. I've listened to other other books she's read, but I think the match up of King and Mercy Thompson is fantastic. Thanks to King's ability to build tension, underplay the sarcasm, and capture the emotion, I had a very hard time turning off my mp3 player.