Patricia Briggs is certainly a top name in the urban fantasy genre. If you spend any time searching for UF recommendations, I’m betting you’ve seen her name more than a few times! I’ve had this one in my TBR pile for a while for just that reason.
There are 189, 124 ratings on Goodreads with an average of 4.11. Additionally, the 3,537 Amazon ratings average 4.7 stars. The blurb is below as well as my commentary on a few points repeated in negative reviews. After the reader discussion portion, I’ll again tackle the book from a writer’s perspective. So, let’s jump in and have some fun!
Mercy Thompson is a shapeshifter, and while 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…
This is book 1 of 12 and was published 2006.
Despite the high average, there are some 1 star reviews (there always are, fellow readers). Sometimes, it’s hard to see a pattern in the negative reviews, but there were a few points made repeatedly for Moon Called.
–patriarchal/ Dom & Sub / religious references
I didn’t strictly find this true for Mercy, Adam, Zee, and a few others. However, I will admit that not all of the werewolves stood out for me. I had to check on a few names toward the end as I didn’t recall them. I openly admit to skipping parts (more on that later) so it’s entirely possible I’m to blame for not separating out the characters.
By the way, Warren and Kyle stood out for me in a great way and I wanted more for that story! I also loved the larger magical world that was revealed – fae, witches, vampires, etc. There were a lot of references to political machinations which deepened the world. I found the world and several of the characters were very interesting.
Mercy as a mechanic was a fun badass point; however, that brings me to a critique I did agree with…
As this is first person POV, I found it fitting and interesting that we got the mechanical details of cars and weapons since that is Mercy’s character…at least, it was interesting the first few times. I started skipping those descriptions later.
I found the discussion of architectural styles during a tense scene less fitting and interesting. Even during conversations, we’d get a couple of paragraphs either describing something in detail or providing back story. This certainly slowed the pace down for most of the book.
Again, as this is first person, we are often lost in Mercy’s head as she explains the full magical world to us from her personal perspective. That’s not to say it isn’t a cool world – I was definitely interested. The writing style for the reveals just didn’t work as well for me. It was also clear Mercy wasn’t as knowledgeable in the world as other narrators so I certainly wanted to see more from other characters.
The ongoing reveal of the magical to humans was a great idea in my opinion, and I was excited to see how it was handled. We’ll have more on this in the writing section as I can appreciate the struggle. As a reader though, I like dialogue and action to break up long descriptions and explanations. Again, this is where I have a tendency to skip. If it’s all internal ramblings, I lose interest quickly even when I absolutely love the character. This clearly says more about me as a reader than the author at times though.
As I mentioned above with the slow pace, the long explanations and unnecessary detail wore on me as they continued throughout the book.
PATRIARCHAL — DOMINANT/ SUBMISSIVE — RELIGIOUS
I won’t dwell on these critiques, but I did want to mention them as they can be triggers or annoyances for some readers. The werewolf society is definitely patriarchal and even inside of that there are dominant and submissive wolves. That aspect didn’t particularly annoy or intrigue me in a huge way. It was simply the particular spin used in the story that could definitely be uncomfortable.
As for the religion, there were some weird aspects to that subject. I didn’t really get why it was included to be honest. I won’t spoil anything here, so I’ll move on along to my own review.
I’m not sure if it was just because I had such high expectations or what, but I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I wanted or expected to honestly. It wasn’t bad – I’d still give it 3 stars. The world was interesting and the plot prompted me to keep reading. I didn’t fall in love with the characters, but I didn’t hate them either. BTW, I have definitely picked my side in the love triangle (yes, there is one).
My preference is always with a third person POV as I like getting more information. Whenever there is a love interest, I definitely want his POV. Personally, I feel first person works better in an emotional story (The Handmaid’s Tale for example). In a fantasy world, I think it broadens and deepens my understanding if I get different insights into it. This is a reader preference though and, in many readers’ groups, other reader make their preference for first person known.
There certainly appears to be a wealth of world building here that was left untouched as we had only Mercy’s POV. I would love to have gotten more from the other characters.
Clearly though, this book is absolutely magic to most readers and I think that’s fantastic. While I enjoyed it, it wasn’t the magical experience that Six of Crows (here’s the link to that Book Chat) was for me. For that one, I savored the prose and was inspired to post various quotes on social media. For Moon Called, I skipped longer descriptions and rushed forward because I wanted to see the ending.
I found this to be more plot driven and didn’t see a lot of growth in the characters. Many have noted that the series improves as it goes along so I don’t want to discourage anyone from trying it for themselves. If you are less than thrilled as I was, you may still want to keep reading to give it a chance.
The next part is an analysis of Moon Called from a writer’s POV. If this isn’t your thing, do skip down to get the book links and see a picture of one of my cats with this month’s read – I can’t resist including those each month!
I wasn’t just excited to read this as a reader but also as a writer. It is so often recommended that I wanted to learn at the feet of the master. However, if you read the above portion then you know that’s not what happened for me. There’s definitely a lot for us to discuss though!
We have discussed this in other posts, but it obviously bears repeating. I love the advice that longer sentences read more slowly and are good for descriptions. Action scenes requires shorter punches. Whatever you are reading, see how it makes you feel then check to see how long the sentences are. Of course then we must check our own writing too.
I had a guest post here who gave great advice on writing action scenes. Joseph Carrabis advised not to reveal a character’s training background during a fight but beforehand instead. There is a scene in Moon Called where a fight is slowed down to share more details on Mercy’s training.
Bland characters was repeated in the negative reviews. I don’t believe they were truly bland – I liked Mercy’s character even with the strong/ weak fluctuation that others criticized. I feel the disconnect came from where the characters didn’t change or grow during the book.
Again though, this is currently a 12 book series and pacing/ growth for a series can be different than a single book.
Again, we’ve talked about that delicate balance of drawing a reader into a new world without dumping the info. I felt like this one was more of an info dump. It truly appears to be a well thought out and developed world, but I was bored by the long-winded narrative.
As always, I’d love to hear from my fellow authors! How do you handle such issues in your writing? What lessons have you learned from this book/ author or even others? You can comment here or send me a message if you’d like to guest post here.
Before I wrap this up, below are links to this month’s book as well as next month’s. Of course, I have also included a picture of one of my cats with Moon Called (the cat’s name is Darcy, btw)!
The Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy Readers Group voted and Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas in our June Book Chat read!
Here’s a link to our original Book Chat post that has the full 2021 reading list. I’d love to have you join the monthly reads and discussions whether you’re a reader, writer, or both so please don’t be shy.