Several months ago, M. looked down at his armful of books as we walked to the cashier and sighed. “I hate it when I get books that are clearly marketed to me.”
I looked at his selection of alternative history and sci-fi battle books, and looked at my stack of steampunk romance books (The Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger) and replied, “I know what you mean.”
That is how I feel about urban fantasy books. Or, as they are categorized by some, “Supernatural Romance”, to which I say, what the christ?
Back in the dark ages, I loved urban fantasy books. Sadly, there weren’t many urban fantasy books and I had to dig a bit to find them. Now, there are too many of them and I can’t stand reading them. The biggest reasons are because they are poorly written and contrived, and I dislike how many of them are based around sex, romance, and sexy romance with supernatural critters. With that phrasing, I think people who fantasize about sexing up vampires or werewolves can be related to furries!
It’s not just that the books tend to be terrible. It’s also that the covers are terrible. Please, think of the commuter-reader who doesn’t want people to see her reading a book with scantily-clad anythings on the cover.
Those things contributed to me not wanting to read the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs: suspicion of the content and irritation with the cover. The heroine is supposed to be a mechanic. Would a mechanic unbutton her shirt to her boob line, roll her shirt up to said line, wear long dangly earrings, and leave her hair lose? This is an embarrassing book to be seen buying or reading, but hey, at least she’s not wearing some sort of taffeta number with wings or dripping mascara.
“Moon Called” introduces nothing new to the urban fantasy genre. There are werewolves, vampires, and faeries. They don’t like each other. Also familiar is how the main character, Mercedes, is none of these but interacts with all of them. It cannot be helped! The local werewolf leader is her neighbor, and her stepfather was a werewolf! Vampires shake her down for protection money, and the previous owner of her shop (and her car mentor) is a faerie.
Mercy is a skinwalker, the only one she knows of (qualifying her for Special Snowflake heroine status), who doesn’t know her father, was raised by a werewolf, and left the werewolf pack to live on her own. Currently, she works as a car mechanic in her own shop, and goes about her la di da business until a werewolf she knows isn’t a part of the local pack comes and asks her for work and she learns that he was an illegally made (by the werewolf pack standards) werewolf that escaped from people experimenting on him. She brings this to the attention of the local pack leader, and hijinks ensue. People get hurt, infighting and subplots come to light, all 3 supernatural factions get involved, and we learn more about Mercy and how the factions work.
I’m not going to say this book was horrible; it’s not. It is also not worth buying. The writing is a bit clunky and awkward, and the world-building is nothing special. It’s not that a book has to have something Super Special to make it worthwhile, but there most be something compelling about the first book in the series that will convince me to buy the rest of the books.
I don’t see an overarching good vs. evil battle coming up, nor do I feel empathy or curiosity for any of the characters. The organization of the factions isn’t interesting yet, and none of the characters have been given enough depth to be interesting.
What I’m saying is that this book is a fast read for a boring day. You’ll want to finish reading it, but once you’re done, it won’t occupy your mind. You might be curious about the sequels, but you will also realize that each book is $7.99 and you could buy a burger or a bowl of ramen that would be more enjoyable.