Patricia Briggs,
Moon Called
(Ace, 2006)

Authors the likes of Tanya Huff, Laurell K. Hamilton and Charlaine Harris have successfully peopled our modern world with vampires, lycanthropes and other supernatural beings who, to some extent, coexist politely among us mere mortals, living within complex hierarchies, bureaucracies and clan protocols.

Add Patricia Briggs to the list. In Moon Called, she gives us a world where lesser fae beings such as brownies have "come out" to an incredulous public -- were forced out, more accurately, because of increasing advances in technology and forensic investigations -- while the greater fae and supernatural buildings -- werewolves, vampires and such -- remain hidden from popular view. Briggs, best known for high fantasy, makes a smooth transition to its dark, contemporary counterpart with this novel.

Based in the Pacific Northwest, Moon Called focuses on an apparent clan war among werewolves, and Briggs outlines a creative, highly detailed society in which they live. The focal point, however, is Mercy Thompson, auto mechanic and shifter.

Most of the fae population originated in Europe, emigrating to North America along with colonial settlers. Shifters, however, have their roots in Native American traditions, and their powers don't always work by the same rules. Mercy shifts at will to and from coyote form, and even in human form she has enhanced senses and speed.

Mercy becomes involved in the story when a teenager walks into her garage looking for work. She gives him a job -- warily, because her senses tell he's a werewolf, and he's not from the local clan. But all too soon, men and werewolves come looking for him, the local Alpha has been attacked in his own home, and a dead body has been left as a warning on Mercy's front porch. The action just heats up from there, as the local seethe of vampires and at least one local witch take an interest. Fortunately, Mercy is quick on her feet and has a keen, analytical mind when it comes to sorting out conspiracy theories.

Moon Called is an exciting new entry in the field of dark urban fantasy, and I'm pleased to see Briggs is already at work on a second book in the series. I certainly hope in some future novel to see further exploration of the conflict between these living North American and European mysteries; Briggs hints at a great war that once raged between them, which resulted in the near eradication of the natives. Either way, I will be watching for Mercy Thompson's next adventure with great anticipation. Moon Called has whet my appetite for more.

by Tom Knapp
17 December 2005

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