Welcome to this week’s “meeting” of the Preternatura Book Club! Today, we start a new read with the first two chapters of MOON CALLED, the first book in Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series. This is one of my favorite urban fantasy series, and starting this first book again after several years away from it reminded me why. We learn a lot about Mercy and her world without being beaten over the head with it. So, here we go! Chime in. It’s hard to tell about a series in two chapters, but what do you think so far?
MOON CALLED, CHAPTERS 1-2
From the opening sentence, “I didn’t realize he was a werewolf at first,” we know the type of world we’re dealing with. Basically, in the first two chapters, a “stray” werewolf arrives at the garage owned by Mercedes Thompson, aka Mercy, looking for day work he can do for cash. She’s a mechanic, working mostly on vintage German cars. The young man is nervous, and Mercy can tell he’s a young werewolf without much control. Against her better judgment, she hires him on to work Friday.
He’s back again on Monday, so she gives him more work. Later, she worries he won’t have a place to sleep, so she picks up a blanket to put in an old VW van she’s working on for her friend Stefan, a vampire. When she arrives, she finds the young man, whom she knows only as “Mac,” in an argument with another werewolf and a human. When it accelerates, Mercy shifts into her “walker” form, a coyote. She kills the second werewolf (which surprises her), and Mercy knows it’s time to call her neighbor, and alpha of the local werewolf pack, Adam Hauptman. She and Mac are waiting next to the dead werewolf’s body (and Mac wants to eat him) when a car pulls up outside. We learn that Mac has been turned werewolf, sold for experiments, and kept in a cage. The alpha of the Chicago pack is somehow involved.
Now, during this basic story, we learn a lot of things about Mercy and her world. Just a rundown:
Mercy: She’s half native American; her mom remarried and Mercy doesn’t feel she fits in with the blond-whitebread step-family, although they’re all friendly enough. She was raised among the werewolves of the Marrok (more on that below), although we don’t yet know why. Mercy’s shifts to coyote are not moon-based and are instantaneous. She’s independent, stubborn, can be a little prickly, and while she acknowledges the wolves’ dominance to her coyote, she also knows how to manage them. She has a manx cat named Medea and lives in a trailer that backs onto the palatial estate of local pack alpha Adam Hauptman. Mercy also does weightlifting and karate. She’s worked at the garage nine years, and bought it from a man named Zee. Mercy’s age isn’t given, but she describes her friend Tony as “several years older than me—thirty-three or so—so Mercy’s in her late 20s. She drives an old diesel VW Rabbit.
Adam: Alpha of the local wolf pack. Described as 5-10, 180, dark hair and eyes. Grumpy, but managed by Mercy. We aren’t told much more about him in these chapters.
The relationship: Mercy’s relationship with Adam Hauptman isn’t established yet. He keeps catching her cat on his property, putting it in a carrier and leaving it on her porch, threatening to eat it if he catches it again. But Mercy can tell Adam played with the cat because his smell is on her. To annoy Adam, she keeps the junker VW she keeps for parts in view of his bedroom window.
The world: This is a multiverse, with (at least) werewolves, vampires, fae, and ghosts as well as walkers. The fae, who are ruled by the Gray Lords, elected to “out” some of their least threatening forms to humans several years ago and a reservation system was established. There’s a reservation near where Mercy lives in the eastern Washington State tri-cities area.
Werewolves: Have a distinctive “musk and mint” smell. Are uncommonly strong. Live in packs headed by an alpha, and all the packs in North America answer to the Marrok. When a new werewolf comes into a territory, he/she must petition the alpha of the local pack. Being bitten by a werewolf doesn’t turn you into a werewolf—you have to be drained to near death, and even then it often doesn’t work. Shifting is very painful and can take a long time.
Other major characters besides Mercy and Adam: Not many yet. Tony is an undercover cop who’s a friend of Mercy’s. He asked her to work on the car of a woman he’s involved with (or trying to get involved with). Stefan is a vampire who has an old VW Bus painted to match the Scooby-Doo Mystery Machine. We don’t know much about Zee, the former garage owner, yet.
That’s it for this week! Thoughts?