Aug 04 2009

Moon Called, Briggs; The Godmother, Scarborough

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: Continue reading “Moon Called, Briggs; The Godmother, Scarborough”