Urban Fantasy Review: ‘Moon Called’ by Patricia Briggs

Eighteen minutes.  That is the amount of time in a seventy five minute movie that princess Moon Called (Mercy Thompson, #1)Aurora is actually shown on the screen in Sleeping Beauty.  Laying around, getting rescued, in 1959 this is what a female protagonist did.  God the fifties must have been boring.  I bring this up in a review of Moon Called not because protagonist Mercy falls into the same trap, far from it.  This whole story actually flips that script, alpha werewolf (and possible love interest) Adam spends the vast majority this story beat up, tied up, and just plain out of action- despite being the baddest wolf around.  This means Mercy gets to do all the fun stuff like making plans, carrying out rescues, and generally save the day for all around.

Mercy is a Coyote, raised by werewolves and making a living running her own mechanic shop.  She is working on a car when a young wolf calling himself Mack comes in needing a couple days of work.  Obliging, she quickly learns that this is a young man in trouble, and a young wolf without a pack.  And in the strict pack hierarchy of werewolves this means even more trouble which quickly shows itself in the guise of strangers who want to take Mack.  A fight in the night leads to conspiracies, kidnappings, and a need for Mercy to do the whole help save her friends thing.  Along the way we get Werewolves aplenty, Vampires, an awesome Gremlin, and really everything and the kitchen sink as is the norm from urban fantasy.

This was an enjoyable tale and it did a lot of things right.  Mercy is great, a true underdog.  As a coyote she gets to shift shapes, have heightened senses, and out run most werewolves.  But she loses out on all the super healing, guaranteed pack protection, and super strength.  So she survives on her wits and a little bit of sarcasm.  It is a good mix.  It was a quick moving book, and while it held its share of implausible conveniences this is the type of fast moving action story that makes it easy to forgive.  And I love the setup of a world just now waking up to the fact that the supernatural is in its midst.

Which is good, because this book should have been a giant mess.  I suspect that in the first two thirds of the book there are approximately six or seven pages of actual plot development.  Instead the vast majority of the space involved info dumps hidden in conversations.  Subtle is not the word here, the pattern is as thus; meet a new character then get a whole lot of info that may come in handy within a book or two as they ‘as you know’ their full history, which Mercy filling in what ever the conversation doesn’t get too.  A long van trip in particular was quite over the top.  And if you want to know which cushion in the waiting room of a vampire’s house is the softest, don’t worry, Mercy has you covered.

Throw in the typical ‘add whatever magical power helps the plot,’ a minor author’s religious crisis being worked out within the book, and just about every character not named Mercy being pretty damn forgettable and I really should be more critical of this book.  But it was fun, and while full of little plausibility issues I followed the main plotline without a hitch, something I have struggled with in these short romps in the past.  So on the whole I think my feelings are quite positive and I will probably read on in this series.

3 Stars

Audio- This was a pretty outstanding audio performance my King.  She has a whole lot of characters to voice and with the exception of Adam (whose voice changed a bit) I could have kept track of the characters through voice alone.  No mean feat considering I wasn’t enthralled with all the characters.  I am willing to guess I would have been much more critical of the book on the whole without King’s great audio performance, but who can tell?

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