Moon Called, Patricia Briggs
Mercy Thompson is an auto mechanic and a were-coyote. She is the only one of her kind (were-coyotes, not auto mechanics), and was raised by werewolves, who never fully accepted her and forced her out when she she was a teenager. One day a young werewolf shows up at her shop looking for a job; shortly after, bad guys come looking for him. Mercy has to call for the help of the local werewolf pack and their aenal-retentive leader Adam. Werewolf politics and UST ensue.
Kinda bland urban fantasy that falls apart pretty badly in the second half. I don’t think Briggs knew what she was going to do with all these people when she introduced them. The book is the first in a series, and some characters are pretty clearly meant to be developed more in later books, while some are one-offers. My suspicion is that she didn’t decide which were going to be which until around the half-way point of the book.
We literally know nothing about the villains until the very, very end of the book. (Spoilers: The main villain doesn’t show up in person until the very last scene, and was barely mentioned before then. He’s also stupid. I will call this a douche ex machina.) A lot of the climax consists of people we’ve never met or barely know explaining the motivations of other people we’ve never met or barely know. At one point the story kind of stops dead so Mercy can fix the nice gay couple’s problems, which end up having nothing to do with the plot. As much as I appreciate the presence of the nice gay couple, this was time that should have been spent on other stuff.
On the plus side, it’s an urban fantasy book that isn’t about tracking a serial killer! That’s a refreshing change of pace! And I appreciate that Mercy’s werewolf love interests spend most of the book getting incapacitated and needing her to rescue them.
But I don’t appreciate the love interests themselves. Or Mercy? All of these characters suffer from a marked lack of charisma. I kept forgetting which was which.
Also, Mercy belongs to that long and distinguished line of urban fantasy characters who get to have Special Native American powers without actually being culturally Native American. I’ll bet a hundred internet dollars she gets a wise old Native American mentor in the next book. He/she will either 1) get killed by vampires so Mercy can have angst and revenge, or 2) turn out to be evil so Mercy can have angst and kill him/her.
The Godmother, Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
Rose Samson is a social worker who doesn’t believe in fairy tales. Felicity Fortune is a fairy godmother. Together, they fight social injustice, in the form of modernized iterations of several fairy tales (Hansel and Gretel, Snow White, Cinderella, etc), and also of homeless shelters that need their toilets cleaned.
Better urban fantasy that doesn’t fall apart! Felicity and Rose both have a lot of personality – the way Felicity bounces off people is cute, and Rose is, to me at least, pretty believable as a social worker. It’s a very sweet, busy book. My two really big caveats relate to the, ehh, cultural decisions it makes:
1) Felicity pretends to be Kuan Yin to get a Vietnamese kid who’s in a gang back on the right track. Hooray for Caucasian people substituting themselves for other cultures’ gods. You go, Felicity. (That plotline resolved itself in ways that were a little too pat, too.)
2) So, speaking as someone who might possibly consider voting for a Republican if shown clear scientific evidence that the Democrat in the race was, in fact, an Awakened Being from Claymore?*
This book may be slightly overly politically partisan.
Cut for spoilers: There are all these evil Republican politicians running around ruining people’s lives. Two of them turn out to be pedophiles, and one of those is a serial killer pedophile. He builds candy houses and kidnaps the children who come close to them, and then molests them and puts them in his Doom Basement which is filled with, like, heads. In jars. (He’s a Hansel and Gretel retelling.) The Republicans who are not pedophiles are social workers who put kids in homes with pedophiles. It’s a little much! It actually makes the book where Sheri Tepper sent anti-abortion people to hell to bear and suckle demon babies for all eternity look somewhat restrained… well, okay, that’s a lie. Nobody has ever made Sheri Tepper look restrained.
* And then it would depend on which Awakened Being; I mean, I’m not going to support any tentacle-related initiatives, but I would like to hear Riful’s thoughts on stem cell research.