Series: Mercedes Thompson, #1
Author: Patricia Briggs
Pages: 324 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Ace Books
Release Date: January 31, 2006
Mercy Thompson's next next-door neighbor is a werewolf. She's tinkering with a VW bus that happens to belong to a vampire. But then, Mercy Thompson is not exactly normal herself...
Mercy is a shapshifter, and though she was raised by werewolves, she can never be one of them, especially after the pack ran her off for having a forbidden love affair. So she's turned her talent for fixing cars into a business and now runs a one-woman mechanic shop in the Tri-Cities area of Washington State.
But Mercy's two worlds are colliding. A half-starved teenage boy arrives at her shop looking for work, only to reveal that he's a newly Changed werewolf - on the run and desperately trying to control his animal instincts. Mercy asks her neighbor Adam Hauptman, the Alpha of the local werewolf pack, for assistance.
But Mercy's act of kindness has unexpected consequences that leave her no choice but to seek help from those she once considered family - the werewolves who abandoned her...
I'd been hearing a lot of good things about this series, so it was about time I got to it. I'll admit that all of the praise caused my expectations to be pretty high, so I was bummed when I wasn't hooked from the first chapter.
There was quite a bit of info-dumping, which disrupted the flow of the story. I generally love the world building aspect of fantasy books, but only when it feels organic, which it definitely wasn't in Moon Called. Whenever we met a new character, Mercy would give us a short biography and history of their life. Most of it didn't even add to the plot or to my understanding of the character, and just felt like information overload. There were quite a few instances where I forgot what was happening story wise, because of some lengthy character description.
Despite all of the info-dumps, I don't feel like I truly understand how werewolves and skinwalkers work. I have no clue how old Mercy, or any of the other non-human characters, is. There's mentions of the 1800s, so I know they're old, but do they age extremely slowly? Or do they stop aging at whatever age they were changed? Do the born shapeshifters like Mercy just stop aging at a certain time, or slow their aging in their prime? I just have no clue. I don't even know exactly what a skinwalker is, or how Mercy is different than werewolves other than that she changes into a coyote. Are all skinwalkers werecoyotes, or do they turn into other animals? There's just a lot of holes in the world that seriously nagged at me.
As for the plot, it was just okay. The Alpha's daughter has been kidnapped, there's some new drug being tested on werewolves, but who's behind it and why? Well, it ends up being a tangled mess of supernatural politics, and I just didn't care. In fact, I didn't even fully understand what was going on, and how everyone involved was connected. This was probably because the big reveal was another info -dump rather than a slow trickle. The pacing is also super slow, so I found that my mind would wander and I'd miss some of what I was reading and have to re-read.
Ultimately, this one just did not work for me. I did like how many types of supernatural creatures are featured, but the plot was slow and confusing, and the whole book was bogged down with unnecessary history lessons and random personal information. I didn't particularly like Mercy, but I didn't dislike her either. She just wasn't very interesting, and it seemed like all of her actions were just to reinforce her repeated line of "I'm not part of the pack and therefore don't have to listen." I'll probably read the next book, since it should be free of so many info-dumps and hopefully has a better plot.