Reviewers: Jeriann and Bethany
Age/Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy/Paranormal
Preferred Reading Setting: The bath, obviously.
Reading Accessories/Accoutrements: This book is set in Eastern Washington, so it pairs best with a crisp Washington wine or cider. There’s a part where Mercy makes some cookie dough to share with a friend, and we can’t see any reason not to do the same (sharing optional). You can even bake the cookies. If you’re into that sort of thing.
Welcome to the first post of The Bathtub Book Club Blog! If you haven’t checked out our about page, head over there and see what we’re all about!
Bethany: This was probably one of my most awkward book-finding adventures. To understand why, you must first know that my grandfather was a pastor. That is important because I was with my grandmother at Barnes & Noble when I stumbled across Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs. Explaining to my ultra-conservative grandmother why I, an 18-year-old “innocent,” wanted to read an ADULT fantasy novel with werewolves, murder, and other general mayhem was…awkward.
But I’m stubborn and I bought the book anyway.
I know what you’re thinking: “This is a review for Moon Called, not Iron Kissed.” Truth! But Iron Kissed is the third book in the Mercy Thompson series and it is was my introduction to the Mercy Thompson Universe.
Jeriann: When we were roommates at college, our reading lists for classes were pretty long. Bethany, however, was still trying to keep up with her outside reading, which was pretty much necessary for her to keep her sanity. I rolled my eyes at a lot of her romance novels, but when she told me about “Iron Kissed”, it sounded pretty bad-ass. So I read it, and we decided we needed to read the rest of the series.
Bethany: I actually gave Jeriann the book to get back at her for making me read the Twilight saga…and to introduce her to GOOD fantasy literature 😉
Jeriann: Yeah, it was way better than Twilight.
Bethany: *IS* way better than Twilight…
Jeriann: Fair Enough. Anyway, we read the Patricia Briggs novels all throughout college and still read them when there are new releases today. Since Bethany started the collection, she always bought them and I borrowed them. Even now, she mails them to me to read. But for the purposes of this review, I have finally started collecting them, having lucked out finding the first two at the ONLY used book store left in my town.
Bethany: *Claps Excitedly*
Moon Called, the first book in Patricia Briggs’s Mercy Thompson Series, introduces us to Mercy Thompson and her band of merry magical creatures. Mercy is a mechanic who happens to be able to shift into a coyote. She lives in a version of the Tri-Cities, Washington that’s not quite like our own. This world not only has werewolves, vampires, and fae, but these creatures are also somewhat known to the mundane humans of the world. Mercy, a unique kind of magical being, has a network of friends and acquaintances who keep her on her toes; her boss is fae, her neighbor is a werewolf, and to their disdain, she is also friends with a vampire.
In Moon Called, Patricia Briggs does a great job of presenting the reader with a ton of information in an accessible way. The characters all have strong introductions, and after reading the whole series, it becomes apparent that Briggs had these characters developed when she started and was able to keep them consistent throughout over ten books.
That’s not to say that her characters don’t grow and develop over time. In fact, Patricia Briggs’s characters react fully to the situations they are exposed to in reasonable ways and with realistic timelines.
Since we read Iron Kissed first, we were thrown into this world in the middle of a love triangle that only kind of starts in the first book and lasts for a few of them. The characters involved all grow naturally and the loss of the love triangle plot device doesn’t seem forced or take away any drama. Some series die after the main character falls into a long-term relationship, but that isn’t the case with Mercy Thompson. Patricia Briggs writes relationships (romantic and otherwise) in a relatable way that reminds the reader that some authors are human beings with real feelings and actual human contact.
Bethany: *Gasps* They don’t just sit on their laptops petting their cats and trying to write the purrr-fect relationship?
Jeriann: Dang, I’ve been going about it all wrong.
Bethany: Guess that’s why we’re the reviewers and not the reviewed…
Patricia Briggs has pretty much mastered the art of imparting information to her audience without being overwhelming. You are thrown into the middle of a unique world with its own unique history, yet you are comfortable with the timeline almost immediately. The same goes for the unique rules of magic that exist in this world, which is to say, there are very few. You know early on that there are more magical creatures that exist that haven’t been revealed yet, but they aren’t immediately relevant to the plot. Even Mercy Thompson herself is still learning the magical ropes, so to speak.
Briggs has written this world in a way that’s perfect for a long ongoing series. There is vast potential for new magical creatures and for the main characters to go on countless adventures without things seeming too convenient or contrived.
Jeriann: When we first decided to review this book, I knew I had to re-read it. I initially thought I’d just get it from the library, but unfortunately, it was not in our local system. What was there, though, was “Moon Called: Volume One” and “Moon Called: Volume Two” which are graphic novel adaptations of the book. I haven’t read a ton of graphic novels, but I do enjoy some, so I definitely wanted to check out the adaptation of the first book in a series I have come to love so much.
I was a bit underwhelmed. The art is nice, but not really my style, with angular faces and a particular type of lighting and shading. The plot is necessarily condensed, which I don’t hold against it, but just don’t enjoy as much as the full book. The main thing I didn’t like is the change in the way that Mercy interacts with the people around her. The writer just didn’t manage to portray an independent woman as well as Patricia Briggs did. There is a scene in the book where Mercy is ambushed by some mercenaries who want to talk. The scene is full of grandstanding and intimidation from all parties. At the end of it, a guy comes in and acts for a second like he needs to protect Mercy, which she points out is unnecessary. In the graphic novel, he comes in earlier in the scene and basically does act as a shield between her and the mercenaries. It’s little moments like this that, in my mind, change the characters that are being developed.
If you’re at all interested in urban fantasy, you should definitely check out Moon Called. It’s a great book by itself, and if you like it, there’s ten more in this series and about five in a parallel series called Alpha and Omega that follows different characters in this same world. At a certain point, the series do become closely intertwined, and though you can read either series separately, it’s definitely a more complete experience if you read them in order of release date. (For those who are interested, we have included a list of the books in the order they should be read.)
All the books are fun and engaging, definitely great for a couple of bath sessions. We should note that there are some intense situations, and occurences of sexual violence that happen in book three as well as the first story in the Alpha and Omega series that could be triggering.
Jeriann: I am super glad Bethany introduced me to these books and I’m excited to re-read the series from the beginning.
Bethany: Yeah, you’re glad! I’m a great judge of books. Lol. But seriously, I re-read the first book for this review and then I read the next nine…because I couldn’t stop.
Jeriann: I’m definitely going to read Blood Bound soon, and start hunting for the next ones!
MERCYVERSE BOOK TIMELINE:
- Moon Called (Mercy Thompson)
- Alpha and Omega (short story in On the Prowl)
- Cry Wolf (Alpha and Omega)
- Hunting Ground (Alpha and Omega)
- Blood Bound (Mercy Thompson)
- Iron Kissed (Mercy Thompson)
- Bone Crossed (Mercy Thompson)
- Silver Borne (Mercy Thompson)
- River Marked (Mercy Thompson)
- Fair Game (Alpha and Omega)
- Frost Burned (Mercy Thompson)
- Dead Heat (Alpha and Omega)
- Night Broken (Mercy Thompson)
- Fire Touched (Mercy Thompson)
- Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson)
- Burn Bright (Alpha and Omega)