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Book Reviews

Review: “Moon Called,” Patricia Briggs

December 29, 2016
Review: “Moon Called,” Patricia BriggsMoon Called (Mercy Thompson #1)
Written by Patricia Briggs
Published January, 2006 by Ace
324 pages
Genres: Adult, Werewolves / Shifters
Purchase: The Book DepositoryBookworldBooktopia
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three-stars

Mercy Thompson's sexy 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 shapeshifter, 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...

Moon Called was exactly what I was in the mood for: a gritty urban fantasy with werewolves, vampires – the whole shebang. Reminiscent of Charlaine Harris and Laurell K. Hamilton, Patricia Briggs delivers a fast-paced, supernatural mystery that delivers exactly what you’d expect.

 “Hard truths can be dealt with, triumphed over, but lies will destroy your soul.”


Reading Moon Called was an experience. A very nostalgic one. Back in 2007-2008, I went on a urban fantasy binge. Unless it had vampires of werewolves, I wouldn’t read it. I managed to devour more than the average person before becoming slightly sick of the genre and moved on, focusing more on Young Adult and a broader spectrum of genres. So, needless to say, stepping back into something akin to all those books I read back then was like coming home. Moon Called, the first in the Mercy Thompson series was written in 2006 – a magical time for urban fantasy in my books.

When you talk ‘werewolves’ in urban fantasy, pretty much every reader instantly says ‘Patricia Briggs!’ When I began craving a supernatural-esque mystery (you know the ones: pack politics. strong heroine, a touch of vampires/overdone creatures, etc) I knew I couldn’t put it off any longer. Moon Called and the Mercy Thompson series in general has been taunting me for years, always on my TBR pile but never actually doing anything else…

I was immediately drawn in to the story within the first few pages. Like I said, it was exactly what I wanted. A straightforward urban fantasy with a good dose of mystery, crime and supernatural creatures doing supernatural things.

Our heroine, Mercy, is a female mechanic. She’s pretty handy in sticky situations, and not afraid to dive right in when it comes to defending those who need her help. Not merely a werewolf, Mercy is a ‘skinwalker’ of sorts – she can change into a coyote at will. It has its ups and downs. Although she can shapeshift, she doesn’t get the super strength of her werewolf cousins while in human form. I was pleasantly surprised to see that, although the only one of her kind so far, Mercy wasn’t treated as a ‘special snowflake’. She kind of treats her situation as if it were something she just had to embrace and deal with. I really appreciated that. Though this could change in future books, at the moment I’m super psyched Mercy isn’t some ‘prophesised’ saviour figure.

“A werewolf tossed me against a giant packing crate while I was trying to rescue a frightened young girl who’d been kidnapped by an evil witch and a drug lord.” – Mercy

At times I was confused by some of Patricia Briggs’ descriptions; such as that of Tony, who was Mercy’s friend and undercover cop. Was he an old guy or a young guy? How could he change his face so easily even though he was human? There were other instances where I had to try and figure out what I’d just read, too. Did Bran say Samuel was 60? How then, did he have so many children that had already passed away – or how was he able to be the first son of Bran when Bran was almost 200? All this head scratching often distracted me from what was happening with the story, or it tore me from my little fantasy world.

Still, I was able to finish this book in two sittings. Though the plot was a little clogged with characters, I was able to get past that and appreciate that the world was merely being built up for future cameos and such. I’m really interested in seeing a bit more of the dynamics between Mercy and Samuel, as well as Adam and Bran. I can’t wait to learn a bit more of Mercy’s past and see how her future relationships play out.

The contained plot of Moon Called – the mystery of Adam’s attackers – was a little over-complicated when finally explained. I’m giving this series the benefit of the doubt so far, though, because it was just a fun read.

“Humans, werewolves, or, apparently, vampire, it doesn’t matter; get more than three of them together and the jockeying for power begins.”

My main irk with with Moon Called, however, was the way in which Mercy’s romantic relationships were treated. I was all fine and good that there seemed to be residual tension between her and Samuel, her past crush, as well as a new sort of attraction to her neighbour Adam. I was also okay that there seemed to be no ‘all out’ romance – at no time did Mercy ever seem to show interest in pursuing anything with either of them, merely commenting to the reader on how they looked, or how Samuel once made her feel. I was fine to believe that with the next installments, something would gradually begin to develop.

However, at the end, Mercy and Adam were on a date. Ummm, okay? It seemed off to me, as if it had been tacked on merely as an afterthought in an effort to try and convince the reader to pick up the next book. It felt so out of place to me! Mercy – or Adam – hadn’t really showed any indication that they were interested in one another besides a standard friendship with a bit of flirtation and werewolfy-protectiveness. I would have liked to see it unfold a little earlier in the book, or see them spend some real time together before jumping into kissing on the porch.

Moon Called wasn’t perfect, but it certainly fit the bill when I was after a nostalgia-inducing urban fantasy. I’m actually pretty excited to continue on the series, as I’ve heard it gets better and better. If you’re after something old-school with a (so far) non-irritating main character, definitely give this one a shot!

About Patricia Briggs

Patricia Briggs was born in Butte, Montana to a children’s librarian who passed on to her kids a love of reading and books. Patricia graduated from Montana State University with degrees in history and German and she worked for a while as a substitute teacher. Currently, she lives in Montana with her husband, children and six horses and writes full-time.

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