Moon Called by Patricia Briggs
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I read this because I liked Patricia Briggs' short story in an anthology I read. It was called "Gray," and it was well-written and touching. This Briggs is one who hasn't yet evolved to that point, evidently.
Moon Called introduces Mercedes (Mercy) Thompson, a skinwalker who shifts into a coyote form at will. She doesn't know anyone else like her; apparently her father is dead, and, if there's a coyote-shifter community about, she hasn't found it. She does hang out with werewolves, though, and when a young, untrained one shows up at her door, calling himself Mac, she offers him her help.
Mac's had it rough, and the people behind his difficult transition come to track him down and make trouble in Mercy's little corner of the world. They nearly kill the local alpha werewolf, and kidnap his daughter, then dump a dead body on Mercy's doorstep.
What follows is something of a meandering journey to rescue the girl and figure out why all this happened. I felt like the narrative lacked a sense of danger, because Mercy kept assuring us that werewolves heal too quickly for any of the damage dished out to slow them down for long. Mercy's bravery in the face of chaos takes away from the reader's sense of immediacy. She stops to explain a lot of things in the middle of the action, either leaving them feeling tacked-on, like kids playing make-believe, or deflating the narrative tension. Also detracting from the narrative tension was that, rather than let mysteries lie where they will, to be continued in later narratives, perhaps, every single question was answered in painstaking detail.
It doesn't help the book's case that it has a strong emphasis on alphas, a trope that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. The notion of being able to control people because of one's ranking in a violent society was difficult for me to stomach, and it bothered me when it affected Mercy.
Add to this mix a love interest that feels tacked on for the sake of creating a love triangle, a confusing ending, and Mercy's status as an Exceptional Female (the only other female character she doesn't hate or who doesn't hate her is fifteen years old) left me with the feeling that this was amateurish writing.
There are glimmers of potential, though. Mercy's "holy symbol" was clever, and Mercy, herself, is likable. I'm interested in learning what happens to her.
I just hope "Gray" reflects Briggs' evolution as a writer, and that these improve as the series goes on. While this book has potential, if they're all written like this, I can't see myself adding future volumes to my must-read list.
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