“I didn’t realize he was a werewolf at first.”
I read these books because they kept coming up on recommendations to me on Goodreads, Amazon and Audible as well as on the top of urban fantasy lists on Goodreads. So I thought ok I better see what all the fuss is about. So I listened to the first two books and I was pretty happy with what I heard.
The series are pretty classic urban fantasy of the “A world you don’t see” variety. Mercy is a car mechanic and a shapeshifter, not a werewolf. Her world has werewolves, witches and vampires. Like I said pretty classic urban fantasy of the kind where you see the supernatural community from within – which is the type I like bests, probably because I read too many of the oh no magic exist vain.
As so much urban fantasy the plot is a mystery which everyone agrees that Mercy should keep her nose out of – which she of course doesn’t. No, that’s hardly a spoiler is it… While the building blocks are very familiar, or perhaps because they are, I found the book quite enjoyable. It is comfortable reading for me and rather entertaining.
I rather liked the characters in the book, particular the minor characters like Mercy’s police undercover friend, the gay werewolf, the spunky teenager daughter, the Marrok (the alpha alpha) etc. They are all colorful and witty. I am not a big fan of either of the love interests – the alpha werewolf and the loner. I have probably just read too much paranormal romance/urban fantasy. They just don’t interest me much. They are big manly men full of man pain… *sigh* But the rest of the cast makes up for it and the romance don’t take up too much space yet – it clearly will in upcoming books but so far it is ok. However there are a lot of great interactions between the characters and a lot of it feels quite real.
In the second book it became clear to me that I am tired of patriarchal werewolf societies and the excuses the authors/protagonists makes for their macho patriarchal notions. The werewolf society in the Mercy Thompson books is blatantly patriarchal – to the point where the female wolf do not have their own social pecking order, but rather the females take their status from their male mates. Because of the scarcity of female ve the men can use that to a justification of limiting the females freedoms quite a bit. Read more here.
I do like that Mercy stand up to the freaking alpha males when they go all alpha male on her, I just wish the book had made a different choice about their culture. The book touch on this as a problematic thing, but so far it has not really explored it so much as excuse it… If anyone can tell me that this gets challenged later in the series I will be much more likely to keep reading. Right now I would rather read something else than more patriarchal werewolf fic. I hope it gets challenged as the werewolf society is changing in the books – I am just not sure I want to keep reading in case it doesn’t.
I kind of want to talk about the covers as well, but I do not want to pile more negativity into a review of two books that I basically liked. And I know that the author has little to no control over the cover. Let me just acknowledge that I like that Mercy looks like a native american on the covers and that I dislike that she is shown in a state of undress on both covers as she never uses her femininity as a strategy in any of the two books. She is a beautiful woman and people around her react to that, but she does not think so her self… so I think it send the wrong signals about her. If she was the kind of woman who did use her femininity as a source of power, then the covers would be totally valid choices – she just do not do that… See I couldn’t not talk about it. The covers are stupid, lucky that gets better later in the series – the cover of book 8 is great.
I do like that the vampires are unambiguously monsters. They are bloodthirsty and do not play nicely with their food. The one exception is Mercy’s vampire friend (not romantic interest) Zee. All the other vampires are power hungry and rather unpleasant. The vampire dynamics are interesting as well. I like the idea of the need for hives that less powerful vampires apparently have.
However the plot and the interactions in the first two books kept me well entertained and emotionally engaged while reading, so 3½-4 stars to both books. If the above mentioned patriarchal alpha werewolf postering doesn’t turn you off, when it is definitely recommendable.
Published: 2006 by Ace & 2007 by Ace
Read: October 23 to 26, 2014 & October 26 to November 05, 2014
Author: Woman, white, USA
The protagonist: Mercy Thompson, strait, poc, native american, shapeshifter, mechanic, able-bodied.
Setting: Tri-cities, present day