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Cannonball Read IV: Moon Called by Patricia Briggs

By meilufay | Book Reviews | September 27, 2012 | Comments ()


coverMoonCall07-Cov-Walpole.jpg

Due to lowered cognitive capacity as a result of a move, I decided to reread my favorite genre novels, starting with Moon Called, the first in the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. I've mentioned this series a lot in my reviews because it's currently my favorite (I'm *dying* for a new book to come out!) Sometimes it's a disappointment, revisiting a series you liked first time around (*cough* Sookie Stackhouse *cough*) but I'm delighted to say that was not the case with this series which I still love and will *definitely* reread at a later date (probably whenever the new book comes out). What I love about this series is that even though there's this romance element, it's not swoony. I mean, I'm not a teenaged girl anymore. That Twilight crap doesn't work on me anymore. (And maybe it never did.) I am ... just a little bit more of a realistic when it comes to romance. I *want* to read romances (because there's no romance in my life right now and I need to get that experience somewhere) but I want romance that I can actually relate to and believe in. And the Mercy Thompson series is delightfully down to earth. It's a grown up romance. Yes, OF COURSE, there are yummy bits. And multiple choice romantic options. But it's all handled in a sort of pragmatic way (to mirror Mercy's grown-up mechanic character) and I LOVE it. (In contrast, Briggs' other werewolf series is about a younger, more innocent character and I find it intolerably saccharin.)

In terms of the actual plot, Mercy is a 30-ish mechanic who has a particular and unique skill - she can shape shift into a coyote. She's part Indian but her father died before she was born so her human mother gave her to a werewolf pack to be raised once it became clear that Mercy had this unique ability. As a result, Mercy is very comfortable with werewolves, but has never been accepted by the insular pack (just as real coyotes are treated in a decidedly unfriendly manner by wolves). Anyway, a young werewolf shows up at Mercy's front door with trouble on his heels and she is forced back into the world of pack politics that she'd turned her back on.

I absolutely love the various threads Patricia Briggs weaves through this series. The fact that Mercy is part Indian and shifts into a coyote is definitely dealt with (that's for you fans of Native American mythology). The setting (the Tri-Cities area of Washington state) is familiar to me as a resident of Idaho and Washington and I think Briggs does a good job of portraying the geography and culture of that area. (And what a random place to choose to write about - it seems like every other urban fantasy series is set in Louisiana or Atlanta.) Briggs has clearly done her research into wolves and coyotes and that scientific knowledge informs the series, grounding the werewolf mythology in a way that so few of the werewolf books I've read have seemed to do. All of the research that Briggs has clearly done informs and deepens her books while still never weighing down the storyline in any way. She is no Michael Crichton - she will not spend pages and pages on wolf morphology. She simply uses the facts here and there to add color and depth and as an aspiring novelist I am in awe of her elegance and minimalism in her descriptive passages. (This review is ten times clunkier than her prose.)

I really loved this series and highly recommend it.


This review is part of the volunteer Cannonball Read IV. Read all about it. and find more of meilufay's reviews on the group blog.

(Note: Any revenue generated from purchases made through the amazon.com affiliate links in this review will be donated in entirety to the American Cancer Society.)



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  • chris

    I have heard about this book. I have yet to read it because I am concerned about how it appears to be othering to have a plot-line where it is a person of Indigenous ancestry that can transform into an animal.

    The underlying message here seems to be that they are some how closer to nature, or if you really wanted to be bold, that Indigenous people are more animal-like. This goes into a whole mess of centuries of categorizing indigenous people as lesser-than human. I mean it was less than a century ago that indigenous people were put in ZOOs!

    I mean, please correct me if I am wrong, I am admittedly hyper-sensitive to this because it is my area of study. Yes they can deal with it in terms of mythology, but that can just be another mode of appropriation of native culture just like the hipster headdresses, the urban outfitter "Navajo" panties and so on.

  • Mei-Lu McGonigle

    I hear what you are saying but I don't think that's what's happening in the books. The most animal-like of the characters are the werewolves, who come in all ethnicities and genders and whose inherent conservatism and hierarchical tendencies Mercy is *constantly* forced to negotiate with. I personally am Multi-ethnic and Multi-national. My parents are both foreigners to each other (one Chinese, the other Scottish) and were foreigners in the two countries I grew up in (America and England). I identified very strongly with Mercy's position as an "Other", someone who doesn't fit in with her white, human family, doesn't know her Indian, supernatural family and has grown up in a culture in which she was an outcast. So I would say, from my own personal experience, that actually the question of Mercy's ethnicity, unique powers and nationality were handled particularly well. I really like how you can read the supernatural powers metaphorically (in terms of politics, culture and ethnicity) but they're also cool powers handled in an interesting way. (So they operate the way the metaphors in Buffy do. "High school is hell", metaphorically; but Sunnydale High is also literally located on a Hellmouth.) I *hope* this has addressed your concerns!

  • Robert

    Her Native American ancestry is dealt with in a later book that has splashes of mythology and the like. For the most part, the book deals with werewolf/vampire/fae mythology, with more emphasis on Celtic, for example, than Native American. As far as I can recall,

  • Jannymac

    Well, if it's "othering" then it's the book giving Native Am's's a totally awesome capability.

  • karen

    Chris, I got the impression (granted, i read this a while ago) that while she is Native American, that doesn't play a big role in this series. I haven't reread this one in a while so I could be wrong. You probably want to stay far away from the Jane Yellowrock books by Faith Hunter. I really enjoyed them but being Native American and shape changing plays a a huge role in this series.

    meilufay - great summary, and you explained to me why I am not running out for the latest Alpha and Omega book " intolerably saccharin", heh NUT UP for the love of god! I think I will have to pick this up again too.

  • Mei-Lu McGonigle

    Lol. I can't with the submissive, ultra feminine heroine in that series. I. Just. Can't. :D

  • chris

    Thanks everyone for you thoughts. I love you Pajibans. I just pulled the race card and not a single person was rude!
    *internet High Five!*

    I'm going to give these a shot and see whether it makes my hair curl or not :P

  • Mei-Lu McGonigle

    @Chris Your comment was so well-stated that I hope I gave it the thoughtful response it deserved. I personally think that as a culture we need to be sensitive to how nuanced racism can be and I'm quite glad you brought your concerns up. So I return your *internet high five* with interest.

  • mswas

    I am so proud of all of you! Kudos!!

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