Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Date Read: July 16 to August 24, 2015
Read Count: 1
Recommended by: friends
Recommended to: people who like PNR that’s heavy on the PN and light on the R
I’m always on the lookout for urban fantasy series that look interesting or might be good, always hopeful that the next series I pick up is The One. In my search for such books, I’ve stumbled on quite a few duds, most of them being formulaic paranormal romances where the heroine is a special magical something who draws the attention of almost every beefy alpha male werewolf, fae, vampire, garden gnome in the vicinity. I’ve read enough of these to know why they’re popular, but they’re not for me because the focus is on romance and so everything else–setting, world building, mythology, magic, actual paranormal things–takes a backseat to the romance. And so, I’ve come to not expect much from urban fantasy or things marketed as “urban fantasy” but are actually romance with some paranormal stuff thrown in.
With that said, Moon Called is mostly UF with quite a few classic PNR features, and it’s also one of the better written first books/intros in UF-PNR. I find it good overall but slow to start and took me a long time to get into. I didn’t get pulled in until near the end, and I almost gave up several times. Glad I pushed on, but it makes me not want to pick up the next book. If it’s anything like this book, I would probably DNF early on.
In spite of not being able to get into it, I did like many parts of this book, and the book as a whole would most definitely be a good read for urban fantasy/paranormal romance romance lovers. The writing is solid: interesting setting (Pacific Northwest), interesting magic and mythology (Native American shapeshifters, European vampires, fae of mysterious origins), strong female lead with an interesting background (she’s a were-coyote), and a ton of paranormal activity (mostly werewolf politics, power struggles, and conspiracies).
I liked much of this book, mostly because it has all the ingredients that appeal to me, or I should say ingredients that should appeal to me, but there’s just no heat, no pull, almost no connection–not referring to the lack of sexy times. I feel no sense of urgency to start the next book. What I do feel is an overwhelming lukewarm feeling. I mean, I appreciate Mercy as a character (auto mechanic with a degree in history) and her struggles as she live among werewolves in their male-dominated world. And then there are the worlds of the fae and vampires which she has to navigate through. We only see glimpses of fae and vampires in this book which I hope to see more of, should I continue the series.
All of this should be very interesting to me, and it is. But again, no chemistry nor urgency. I feel no desire to continue Mercy’s journey.
But in spite of that, there are a few notable moments to break up the slow pacing.
I have a degree in history, which is one of the reasons I’m an auto mechanic.
MS. THOMPSON, it said in heavy block letters, PLEASE KEEP YOUR FELINE OFF MY PROPERTY. IF I SEE IT AGAIN, I WILL EAT IT.
“Mine,” he said.
Adam’s eyes narrowed. “I don’t think so. She is mine.”
It would have been flattering, I thought, except that at least one of them was talking about dinner and I wasn’t certain about the other.
My mother once told me that you had to trust that the first thing out of a person’s mouth was the truth. After they have a chance to think about it, they’ll change what they say to be more socially acceptable, something they think you’ll be happier with, something they think will get the results they want.
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* * * * spoilers * * * *
Aside from the slow pacing and not being able to get into this series, I had a few other problems with it.
Its development, how it plays out, and how Mercy solves it all by herself is kind of a mess, really. Just because you call it a conspiracy doesn’t mean “go wild” with the mystery and throw things in haphazardly while leaving plot holes behind, hoping people will overlook them because “conspiracy.” What makes it worse is the conspiracy plot gets compounded near the end and doesn’t make much sense unless you’re willing to suspend more disbelief than you already have for most of the book.
Another thing that still bothers me is Mercy’s Smurfette situation–she’s the only notable female in this male-dominated world and coincidentally the only one they sort of take seriously, meaning they give the impression of hearing her out when she has something to say. It’s really convenient–for the story and for Mercy–that Mercy’s the only notable female and that female werewolves are weaker and prone to die off in droves. Also convenient that they have difficulty reproducing, but a were-coyote like Mercy can, and so female werewolves hate her, usually on sight, because all the dominant males want to get with her. Also convenient is every alpha wanting an heir.
I did say above that this book is one of the better UF-PNR’s out there, right? I might have to take it back. Too many PNR tropes popping up in too many places.
The love interests
Mercy’s milkshakes bring all the weres to the yard. And they’re like, “We don’t want you here. You’re not one of us.” Yet, they flock to her while trying to shut her out of pack business. Such temperamental weres, these guys. They shut her out because she’s not pack and will not be again because she’s her own person and can’t stand living under an alpha’s rule. But they want her because she’s the only were who can bare their children. But this is a world were alpha wolves run the pack, so the more involved she is with the alpha, the more she becomes property, perhaps only a step above other females in the pack. When I say it like that, I doubt my own taste in UF because I called this is one of the better written ones.
Which is an unfair expectation, but I try as I might, I can’t help comparing this book to the Kate Daniels series. The similarities are too obvious to ignore: lone woman with strange magical powers caught in the middle of a bunch of paranormal politics and posturing. I was mostly lukewarm toward Kate’s first book too, but I really liked Kate herself, Derek, Jim, and even Curran. Plus, the Pack’s and the People’s power struggle was really intriguing. Their frequent clashes with Kate caught in the middle made me want to read on, and read on it I did. I blew through the series until I reached the last book published at the time (Magic Rises, #6), and I read them again this summer just for fun, but I can’t see myself continuing Mercy’s books.