Mercedes Thomson: Not Your Typical Supernatural Heroine

Moon Called
Mercedes Thompson: Not Your Typical Supernatural Heroine

Author: Patricia Briggs
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
ISBN: 9780441013814

Moon Called
by Patricia Briggs

So what’s the deal with the Mercy Thompson novels? What’s so special about yet another *groan* heroine living  among the creatures of the night? Initially, when you look at the cover of these novels, they’re often what many have come to expect from urban fantasy and paranormal romances. Depending on which cover you happen upon it may be a naïve-looking waif of a girl, her hips thrust forward slightly and with some kind of paw print tattoo on her stomach (Moon Called) In another you might see a heavily tattooed, no-nonsense badass, her figure bathed in the light of the moon. The woman on this cover is holding a wrench in her hands and gives the impression of controlled stillness. She almost appears to be silently daring something to attack her, waiting in anticipation to clobber anything that gets too close (Bone Crossed.) So which is it? The naïve, wide-eyed waif, those eyes of hers finally opened to the supernatural world around her or the badass chick waving around automotive repair tools?

Well, in >Moon Called, the first of the Mercy Thompson novels, it’s neither. Instead, we are introduced to Mercedes “Mercy” Thompson – a mechanic by trade who is anything but a naïve waif. Nor is she some kind of badass ready to sock it to anyone that crosses her.
>Nor is she the tough-as-nails badass with the killer instincts and the abs and attitude to match. For all her strength, which comes from working with engines and heavy repair kits and not some inherited super-power, she’s oddly humble. From the beginning of the book, she’s living her life and working on cars. She has lived around werewolves her entire life, but she’s not necessarily part of their world. She chooses instead to keep her head down and nose to the ground. She’s a passive and pretty low-key personality. She’s like this not because she’s weak, but because as in nature, wolves tend to be top dog over the coyote. Mercy knows her limitations, realizes that it’s all a matter of survival, and rolls with it. The werewolves are more in tune with their natural counterpart and tend to be aggressive and short-tempered. As the “coyote” in a wolf pack, she isn’t looking for trouble. The last thing she wants to do is make big waves, nor does her coyote nature make demands for her to do so.Only, trouble finds her.Here is where we find out what separates her from the heroine and the wide-eyed waif. Never make the mistake of thinking she’s weak or can’t defend herself simply because she chooses not to make a splash. Within the first few pages, when danger comes calling, we are shown just what kind of hell this gal can raise. And therein lays the difference between Mercy and other paranormal badass heroines. She doesn’t make trouble, but she can most certainly finish it. She’s not the stereotypical in-your-face, knee-to-the-groin, gun-toting, pistol-packin’, silver bullet-carryin’, stake-through-your-heart, Buffy-fied type of urban fantasy heroine at all. She doesn’t boast of her mad shape-changing coyote skills to the reader; she doesn’t make a show of acting tough. She simply is. She is strong and capable and intelligent. She’s been to college and to my utter delight, her major wasn’t Sex Ed 101.

While there was the possibility of romance on the horizon, the book wasn’t chock-full of supposedly “sexy” dialogue and awkward dirty-talk between her and her would-be suitors. Nor does Mercy lose her mind and melt into a puddle of sensual and pulsating goo over the thought of two men (who happen to be alpha werewolves) fighting over her. Laurell K. Hamilton’s creation she is not. Instead, Mercy recognizes what those two yahoos are up to, and the fact that they are circling her like she’s the last happy meal on the planet and are getting ready for a battle royale in the back of her van. She then rolls her eyes, slams the brakes on her ride, pulls over to the side of the road and drags one of the big bad wolves out of the vehicle to give him a stern lecture on responsibility and manners. She’s obviously not that kind of girl. Go, Mercy, go! Rock on with your bad coyote self!

Moon Called is part urban fantasy, mystery, and action-adventure with a bit of supernatural politics thrown into the mix for good measure. If you look carefully, there is even a little romance. Although I’m happy to report that I didn’t go into any kind of diabetic coma after reading it. Blink and you just might miss it entirely, which is just the way I like it: Simple, subtle, and just visible enough to pique my interest, but not so much as to be overwhelmed by it. It has just the right mix of myth and legend grounded into normal, everyday reality that makes it a believable world of moonlight and magic.

Patricia Briggs brings to the table an extraordinary character in Mercy Thompson. Briggs even arms Mercy with a simple, yet humble necklace that I, myself, have never seen used in fiction to ward off vampires before, but it works incredibility well, both in its logic and actual use. She’s level-headed, calm, and exudes a quiet faith that I find entirely refreshing. This heroine is likeable and has the ability to share the spotlight with other characters in her world instead of keeping all the
glory for herself. Mercy shares the lime-light with grace and is the kind of character I hope to see more of in this genre. Wise-cracking, no-nonsense types are great up to a point, but there also needs to be a little depth to go along with all that wit and ass-kicking if the author wants their protagonist to be appealing. Briggs delivers just that in spades. We definitely need more characters like Mercy.

By Trish Day
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  • June K. Williams

    I totally get it. Mercy to me is like Harry Dresden. Not that they are similar in powers or background or sex but they both have flaws that make them more appealing than any perfect hero could be. They are decent people who have principles and will fight to the end to do the right thing regardless of the cost. Both are fiercely independent. Both have the Peter Parker problem of keeping afloat financially and both are in a better position to do so now than when we first meet them at the beginning of their respective series of books. They aren’t clones by any means but I like them both in a personal way.

  • Marianne S

    In addition to all of that she is a terrific car mechanic. Wish I had someone like that in my neighborhood. Seriously, the fact that she has a real business and doesn’t have money magically appearing to take care of her needs makes her more real to me. She is sensible and down to earth in her approach to problems.

  • Sandi H

    I think it is wonderful that a woman can take care of herself and have a successful buiness of her own and she does seem real. It shows that hard work pays off.

  • Chava R

    Mercy is sexy without being sex obsessed. One thing you can say for any Patricia Briggs novel is that the story comes first. That should not have to be mentioned but with so many authors in urban fantasy turning their novels into soft porn it is notable when an author includes sex when it seems to fit and not just to sell books.

  • amy

    Both of these books look like ones right up my alley. Paranormal adventures – with a touch of romance – but sounds like the advneture is the main thing. The heroines seem strong, but with depth. Not perfect. And not the typical helpless female heroine.

    I am saving this review in my books (to get) bookmark!

  • Johanna Caine

    IMHO the cover art does not do the book justice but when are authors or readers ever consulted about the look of the book. Fortunately I try not to always judge a book by the cover and know I’m a Mercy Thomson AND Patrica Briggs fan big time.

  • elaine

    I just found Patricia Briggs this year and have gotten all the Mercy Thomson books. Would be nice to have a TV series based on the books. The only problem is she does not write as fast as I read.LOL

  • Urban Survival

    Patricia Briggs is so appealing to this book.
    Hoping I could read this book also. I’m just curios.