Tag Archives: Mercy Thompson

Moon Called by Patricia Briggs : Review

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Mercedes “Mercy” Thompson is a talented Volkswagen mechanic living in the Tri-Cities area of Washington. She also happens to be a walker, a magical being with the power to shift into a coyote at will. Mercy’s next-door neighbor is a werewolf. Her former boss is a gremlin. And she’s fixing a bus for a vampire. This is the world of Mercy Thompson, one that looks a lot like ours but is populated by those things that go bump in the night. And Mercy’s connection to those things is about to get her into some serious hot water…

I remember picking this book up for the first time at the used book store near my house back when I was in the middle of an urban fantasy kick — as I am right now, mainly because it was just sitting near the Dresden Files book shelf. It then proceeded to sit on my book shelf at home for two long years before I finally remembered I had it and decided to give it a try. I have been kicking myself since that day for waiting so long to read this book, Patricia Briggs has turned into one of my favorite urban fantasy authors, second only to Jim Butcher and his Dresden Files.

In a genre full of wizards, werewolves and vampires it’s always nice to see a main character who stands out from the pack, and Mercedes Thompson does just that. Mercy isn’t just the best Volkswagen mechanic in the entire state of Washington, she’s also a Native American being known as a walker — a shape shifter with the ability to turn into a coyote at will. When her werewolf neighbor Adam is attacked and his daughter Jesse is abducted it is up to Mercy to everything at her disposal to help Adam save his daughter before it is too late.

There are just so many things that I love about this book that I have trouble even talking about it sometimes without spewing my fanboy all over people. For a protagonist Mercy is pretty bad-ass, in a world of werewolves, vampires, powerful Fae creatures and a government determined to control them all you wouldn’t think one little coyote would be able to hold her ground, but she does. It’s also always fun to read some urban fantasy where all the preternatural elements aren’t hidden from the world, but out there for everyone to see, it adds a really interesting element to the story.

With the Mercy Thompson books Patricia Briggs has managed to take all of my favorite tropes from the genre and twist them into something completely her own. A feat that is not easy to do considering just how many books that are out there nowadays, it gets more impressive the more I think about it.

I can’t count the number of times I have read and reread Moon Called, it is from one of those series that I always seem to be in the middle of a reread of. I would definetly give this book 6 out of 5 stars and would suggest anyone looking for some great urban fantasy with a kick-ass heroine pick up this book.


Must Read Urban Fantasy

I was sitting at my laptop the other day browsing through books to read, deciding what I wanted to reread when I realized that more and more these days I find myself leaning more towards urban fantasy over any other genre. I don’t know what it is about the genre that makes me love it so much, it can be difficult to find a decent book or series to read, and most seem to be erotica posing as fantasy. That got me wondering just what urban fantasy series there are out there that are fun to read, without being overly full of gratuitous sex and violence.

These are the top three or four authors and series I could think of who do an amazing job with the genre, and as I’m always looking for something else to read I would appreciate any other suggestions people may have for me.

The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher:

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Harry Dresden — Wizard Lost items found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment.”

His name is Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden–conjure by it at your own risk. Harry is not just the only publicly practicing wizard in Chicago (look him up, he’s in the yellow pages), he’s also a licensed private eye, and an occasional consultant with the CPD. When the monsters decide it’s time to come out and play, it’s Harry Dresden who stands between them and the people of the city.

While I have heard people claim its rough getting through the first few books in the series, I can honestly say I never had any such problem. After I stumbled across these books while looking for something else at my local used book store, I burned through all 8 books that were available at the time in a matter of weeks, and was impatiently waiting for the next book in the series soon after. To me the Dresden Files has everything that’s needed for a great urban fantasy series.

First there are the characters. Harry Dresden is the wise-ass wizard who doesn’t know when to shut up or stand down. Time and time again he gets kicked in the teeth, but gets right back up again to face down the big bad monster threatening his beloved Chicago. Murphy is the mandatory tough as nails cop who has stumbled across the secret world that Harry lives in and is smart enough to know she can’t face it all on her own.

There are entire courts of vampires secretly trying to rule or destroy the world, a hidden world of demons and fae who live by morals and laws most mortals would struggle to understand, and a plot that links each book so subtly that you can only see the edges of it in the beginning of the series.

Unfortunately for me the Dresden Files has made it difficult for me to enjoy and other urban fantasy series as much as I probably would have if I had read it first.

The Mercy Thompson Series by Patricia Briggs:

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“I was going to fight vampires, and my name wasn’t Buffy–I was so screwed.”

I struggled for years after finding the Dresden Files to find another book or series in the sub genre that didn’t pale in comparison, or feel like a cheap knock off to me. For me Moon Called by Patricia Briggs was that book and series. While most of the preternatural world can trace its origins back to Europe, shifters are rooted firmly in Native American myths and legends. As such they don’t always follow the same ancient rules and laws that govern the rest of the preternatural world.

Mercy Thompson is a Shifter who can take the form of a coyote at will. This series follows Mercy as she struggles to survive in a world of territorial and powerful werewolves, vampires and fae. All while attempting to keep her maintain her garage and keep her job as a mechanic.

For me the best part of this series is the world and culture that Briggs has built up around the werewolves. It’s so well thought out that it would be easy for me to believe that such a world is hiding in the shadows of society, waiting for the perfect time to come out to the public. Anyone who is a fan of vampire or werewolf fiction would absolutely love these books. Briggs even manages to balance the romance with the rest of the story, which I’ve noticed that not many urban fantasy authors can do.

The Kate Daniels Series by Ilona Andrews:

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“What kind of woman greets the Beast Lord with ‘here, kitty, kitty’?”

With the Kate Daniels series Ilona takes all the greatest trope of urban fantasy–the secret hidden world of magic, vampires, and shape shifters and completely throws it out of the window. Instead we get an alternate version of Atlanta where magic and technology come in waves, while one is active and working the other is not. During a magic wave you may see a banshee screaming from a telephone pole out in front of your house or a magical war being fought in downtown Atlanta, but you won’t have use of telephones, television or cars. When the technology is up you may not have access to your magic, but you can you’ll have electricity and and the telephones will work again.

In this bizarre alternate Atlanta most of the world is controlled or protected by various guilds and organizations. Kate Daniels works for the Mercenaries Guild, when the magic suddenly comes up and you have a giant fire-breathing lizard loose in your neighborhood, Kate Daniels is going to be the one who responds (For a reasonable fee!).

This is another series where for me the deciding factor was the amount of thought and detail put into the various preternatural groups that exist in the world. This time its not just werewolves who hide among us, but werebears, wererats, and any other type of lycanthrope you can think of. Vampires are mindless creatures being controlled by the People, a group of power hungry necromancers who mentally control the dead.

The only thing I didn’t really realize until I was through the majority of the first book is that this is mostly paranormal romance. By the time I realized that fact though it was too late to go back, I was already hooked, and I am more than glad for it. To me the Kate Daniels series is that anyone of the genre must read!

Honorable Mention: Mercedes Lackey

I was going to put Mercedes Lackey’s urban fantasy books on this list, but I quickly remembered she has four different series in the genre. The great thing about her four different series to me is that they all exist in a shared universe that spans hundreds if not thousands of years, and there are cameos from the same characters across all the various books set in her world.

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Shifting Shadows: Stories From the World of Mercy Thompson by Patricia Briggs : Review

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Mercy Thompson’s world just got a whole lot bigger…

Normally I am not a big fan of anthologies as I find myself unable to enjoy them when one story ends just as it starts to get interesting, but this one really stands out from the others I have read.

Shifting Shadows is an urban fantasy anthology set in the world of preternatural shapeshifter Mercy Thompson. There was not a single story in this anthology that I did not enjoy in some way. When a series of books is written in the first person, its makes the short stories told from the perspective of someone else. We get a really good look at some characters who are only briefly mentioned in the main books in the series, and some insights into the lives of werewolves, vampires, and ghosts.

I wasn’t quite sure how to go about writing this, so I just decided I will go through and write a small little review for each story in the order they appear in the book. I did my best to keep any actual spoilers out of them while still giving my impression of each one.

Silver:

Silver tells the origins of Bran and Samuel becoming werewolves and an explanation of sorts as to where werewolves originally came from. We also get a glimpse into the early life of Ariana and the ill fated romance between her and Samuel. Though a time period is not given as to when this story is set, its obviously a very long time before Moon Called takes place, and gives a pretty good idea how long a werewolf can live. It was really interesting to see the origins of a number of characters who only get small amounts of screen time in the main series, as well as what’s probably the origins of the werewolves themselves.

Fairy Gifts:

This story is interesting in that it tells a story in two alternating timelines, the year 1900 in Butte Montana, and present day Butte Montana. I found myself enjoying this quite a bit, despite the fact that it’s told from the viewpoint of a character only seen briefly in the Mercy Thompson book Frost Burned. We get a good look at what it means to be fledgling vampire and what abilities you get after you’re turned. I found myself disappointed that it ended so fast, and hoping we see more of Thomas Hao, he seems like a unique vampire who’s owed his own story.

Gray:

This was a really sad and melancholy story, almost a little to much for my taste. In this one we get to see the regret and depression of a female vampire who has returned to her former home in an attempt and live on her own without a seethe.

Seeing Eye:

Wendy Moira is a good witch, something not often seen in a world where witches gain their power through the mutilation and suffering of others. Tom is a werewolf intent on freeing his mundane brother from a coven of black witches. Together they might be enough to do it and survive. What made this story the most interesting for me is it gives us a good look at the inner workings of witchcraft and gives you a good idea that you do not want to get on the bad side of anyone with witchblood in their veins!

Alpha and Omega:

This is by far my favorite short story in the entire anthology, and I’m kicking myself for not reading it sooner. Alpha and Omega takes place during the events of Moon Called and fills in a lot of the plot holes from it that have been bothering me for a few years now. It tells the story of how Anna Latham and Charles Cornick met, while explaining what started the chain of events leading up to Moon Called. Anna is probably my favorite character from the anthology and it’s interesting to see a new type of werewolf I don’t remember being mentioned before, an omega. I will definitely be buying Patricia Briggs Alpha and Omega series in the next few day, I can only hope its as good as this short story was.

The Star of David:

This was probably my least favorite story of the anthology, mainly because it’s supposed to be a Christmas story about werewolves, and I hate Christmas stories. When I try and do my best to forget its a Christmas story it’s pretty enjoyable and tells the story of the army ranger turned werewolf, turned werewolf mercenary David Christiansen who appeared in Moon Called. The most enjoyable part of this story for me was how believable David’s conflict of what he is, and who its made him become.

 Roses in Winter:

This story is a good example of why I really love this anthology, it’s always get a glimpse into the life of a character only briefly mentioned in the main series, or more detailed dynamics of being a werewolf. Roses in Winter tells the story of Kara Beckworth a thirteen year old girl briefly mentioned in Blood Bound as having been turned into a werewolf. She’s now become the Marrok’s newest problem to solve, as a young girl unable to control her wolf is a danger to both herself and all werewolves. This book gives some really interesting insight into the laws that the Marrok has laid down to protect all the werewolves, and why they are necessary to uphold. It also gives us a decent look into what happens to a werewolf who has been alive for centuries and is nearing the end of his expected life span.  All in all this this is up there with Alpha and Omega on my list of favorites from this book.

In Red, With Pearls:

I don’t quite know what I think of this one, I enjoyed it while I was reading it, but afterwards I couldn’t quite figure out why. Not a whole lot really happens in it, and what little action there is just kind of bored me. The only thing I liked about it was learning that zombies exist in the world of Mercy Thompson.

Redemption:

I struggled getting more than a few paragraphs into this story at first, it throws a lot of tech jargon at you in the beginning which kind of threw me out of the story. I found it quickly got better though, and we got a good look into what makes Ben the werewolf tick.

Hollow:

I don’t know why it surprised me that Mercy Thompson didn’t make an appearance till the very end of the anthology, I should have expected that to be the way it would be. This story has about everything you can expect from a Mercy Thompson story. There are werewolves, shifters and ghosts, not to mention Mercy taking her usual mental and physical beating. While this was of course a great story, as any story featuring Mercy would have to be, I found my mind wandering a bit while reading at certain points. Mercy is much more suited to full length novels.

 

I suggest anyone who is a fan of the Mercy Thompson or Alpha and Omega books buy this book, it fills in a lot of gaps in them both, and I know I’ll be adding it to my collection when it releases. In fact, I hope anyone who reads this is encouraged to go out and read all the other books by Patricia Briggs set in the same world, she is quite an author and I know I’m more than looking forward to her next book.

Shifting Shadows is set to be released September, 2nd by Ace

I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

 


Check out RLovatt’s interview with Patricia Briggs on the ArchedDoorway here.

 


My interview with Patricia Briggs

First off — I would like to apologize. I conducted this interview back in April, the same weekend as the Steven Erikson one. I’ve been out of the country, and haven’t really had the time to sit down and prepare this.

Back at Ad Astra in Toronto, I had the chance to chat with the lovely Patricia Briggs, where she spoke of convincing her husband that she was a serial killer, her future projects and imaginary friends, research, coyotes and a myriad of other topics.

I hope you enjoy the listen!

One thing that I’ve noticed from the stats of previous interviews I’ve posted, is that the audio gets listened to much more than the transcripts get read. That being said, unless it’s requested, I won’t be posting the transcripts.

[Note — I don’t mind making up the transcripts, but it does take a couple hours. If it’s something people want, I’m perfectly happy doing it. Just that if it’s not necessary.. I won’t.]


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