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REVIEW: Moon Called by Patricia Briggs

Dear Ms. Briggs,

Mercedes Thompson is a funny name for an auto mechanic, but then Mercy, the narrator and heroine of Moon Called is not your usual auto mechanic. She's a walker, not only capable of shifting into coyote shape at will but also possessed of a sharp nose for scenting other creatures and an ability to sense magic when it is at work. So when a teenaged werewolf approaches Mercy asking for work, she knows what he is immediately. She also knows it would be more prudent to refuse him, but he looks so desperate that she hires him anyway.

Turns out the werewolf, who goes by Mac, has escaped from a laboratory where he was being experimented on. When bad guys show up looking for him and Mercy kills one of them, also a werewolf, she realizes it's time to turn the matter over to the local Tri-Cities, Washington alpha werewolf, who also happens to be her next-door divorced neighbor Adam.

But before you can say “From the frying pan to the fire,” things go awry and Mercy finds and just barely saves a wounded Adam, whose fifteen year old daughter Jesse has been kidnapped by the same people who came after Mac. To help Adam heal, Mercy must take him to Montana, and the clan of the werewolves who raised her and the leader of all the North American werewolves, whose son Samuel is the man, er, wolf, whom Mercy once loved and lost.

Eventually, Adam, Samuel and Mercy return to the Tri-Cities to search for Adam's missing daughter. In the process they have encounters with fae, vampires, other werewolves, and a witch or two. Mercy must contend not only with all these creatures but with Adam and Samuel's interest in her and the territorial contentiousness that results from it.

Despite the number of supernatural creatures that people this tale, the story manages to feel real, anchored as it is by Mercy's matter-of-fact narration. Mercy's personality is so down to earth that very little surprises her, and her calm acceptance of the startling world she lives in helped me accept it, too.

You keep the other characters and their relationships believable as well. A vampire wears ripped jeans, a gremlin worries about Mercy's safety, the meat that keeps Adam from getting dangerously hungry comes from Burger King, and in one scene, a tense standoff is interrupted when Mercy's mom calls to wish her a Happy Thanksgiving.

The result is a charming juxtaposition of the ordinary and extraordinary and a world where even the most improbable events are grounded in reality. In that your book reminds me a bit of Charlaine Harris' Dead Until Dark, and I would recommend it to fans of Harris' Sookie Stackhouse series.

I liked Mercy and Adam very much, but Samuel less so. The age difference between him and Mercy when Mercy first fell in love with him was large enough to put me off a bit. The side characters were lively and interesting; I would happily read more about any of them.

I can't find much in the way of flaws in Moon Called; it is that smoothly written. The only reason this book doesn't quite make the A grade range with me is that much though I enjoyed it, it didn't transport me or fill me with delight. But that's okay; not every book can do that for every reader. I am confident that most readers will enjoy Moon Called if they pick it up. It is highly entertaining, a first rate paranormal, and I hope more readers give it a try. My grade for it is a B+.

Sincerely,

Janine

Janine Ballard loves well-paced, character-driven books. Examples include novels by Shana Abe, Loretta Chase, Patricia Gaffney, Cecilia Grant, Judith Ivory, Carolyn Jewel, Laura Kinsale, Julie Anne Long, Alison Richardson, Nalini Singh and Pam Rosenthal. Janine also writes fiction. Her critique partners are Sherry Thomas, Meredith Duran and Bettie Sharpe. Her erotic short story, "Kiss of Life", appears in the Berkley anthology AGONY/ECSTASY under the pen name Lily Daniels. You can email Janine at janineballard at gmail dot com. or find her on Twitter @janine_ballard.

8 Comments

  1. Tracy Sharp
    Feb 10, 2007 @ 08:37:09

    I loved this book as well. I can’t wait to read her new one, Blood Bound.

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  2. LinM
    Feb 10, 2007 @ 10:50:54

    I’m still looking for “Blood Bound” in .lit format so Patricia Briggs has been on my mind recently. I noted your comment about “Moon Called”:

    … much though I enjoyed it, it didn’t transport me or fill me with delight. But that’s okay …

    This encapsulates my reaction to most of Briggs books – the characters are engaging, the storylines are good, the writing is smooth but the books are never quite A reads. I think that she never quite hits the edge that grabs at heart, mind or emotions. I read and enjoy her books but they never stay on my keeper shelves. From another author, I would probably give the books an unqualified recommendation as an enjoyable read but Briggs comes so close to delivering great books that I expect more from her.

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  3. Janine
    Feb 10, 2007 @ 17:24:30

    Tracy – So glad you enjoyed this book too.

    LinM – It’s not always clear how to balance out intellect and emotions when reviewing a book. In this case, I definitely enjoyed the book, but it didn’t create the swell of emotional excitement in me that I expect from an A level book. However, Jane loved it, so I think Moon Called did have that kind of effect on her. I think it’s just a matter of how a reader and a book match up. Some matches are heavenly, others are very good but not fabulous. This is the first Briggs book I’ve tried, so it will be interesting to see how I feel about her others. Like you, I am very impressed with her as a writer.

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  4. Shiloh Walker
    Feb 11, 2007 @ 09:12:38

    I loved Moon Called. Made me wish for the Anita of old.

    Blood Bound is even better. I’m using it as the book of the month on my blog. It might hit that emotion button for you, Janine.

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  5. Janine
    Feb 11, 2007 @ 11:14:45

    Shiloh – I plan to read Blood Bound eventually too. It will probably be a while off since Jane just reviewed it.

    ReplyReply

  6. cathy
    Feb 11, 2007 @ 12:03:29

    LinM-Blood Bound is at ebooks.com in lit format if you want to take a peek.

    ReplyReply

  7. LinM
    Feb 11, 2007 @ 19:16:59

    Janine: Thank heavens I’m not a reviewer. How unfair to criticize an author not on the quality of the book but based on a feeling that I think she can do better. Unfair or not, I do expect more. (and I have read most of her backlist being a long time fantasy fan).

    Cathy: Thanks for the tip – I’m off to get “Blood Bound”. :)

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  8. Janine
    Feb 11, 2007 @ 19:46:21

    LinM: All a review is is one person’s opinion. It’s really nothing more than that. Gut feelings go into forming opinions, so don’t let that stop you from reviewing a book. I think that as long as you haven’t engaged in personal attacks, and you’ve done your best to back up your opinion (and saying “I think that she never quite hits the edge that grabs at heart, mind or emotions” is backing it up), then you’ve been fair.

    ReplyReply

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