I've only posted about a couple of the books in this series, since I read most of the series before starting this blog, it feels strange not to have old posts to go back and steal from. How do I do this concisely, now? I mean this should be one of the longest posts I've written, if I was going to do it right.
But I'm not going to do it right, I'm going to do it quick. Simply: Mercy Thompson is a skinwalker of sorts, who was raised by a pack of werewolves (a pack led by the Alpha of North America, it should be noted), who has an English degree and works as a VW mechanic. When we meet her in Moon Called, she's living near the Alpha of the Tri-Cities of Oregon, is friends with a vampire, knows a couple of the Fae who live on the (Fae) reservation nearby. Almost no one knows about her ability to shift into a coyote (other than these supernatural folks), and she has no intention of changing that. However, she finds herself in the middle of a few goings-on in the supernatural community and becomes a prominent player in the area.
In Moon Called Mercy discovers a group experimenting on werewolves -- even creating some for the sole purpose of being guinea pigs. In Blood Bound, Mercy is called upon by the local vampires to pay a debt by helping them track and destroy a rogue über-vampire/serial killer. Then in Iron Kissed Mercy begins helping local Fae investigate a series of murders on the reservation, using her special abilities -- in the end, she has to dance around Fae politics while trying to prove that a dear friend wasn't behind the killings. Throughout this, she has a love life, some friends, helps the local pack with some internal issues, and finds herself in mortal danger frequently. All while maintaining her shop, sense of humor, and independence.
I love these characters -- all of them, I can't think of a single one of them I wouldn't want to spend more time with. Mercy has an attitude, perspective and humor that I enjoy, and good taste in friends/acquaintances, too. Briggs' approach to werewolves, vampires, etc. is fantastic and I frequently judge other UF writers by how they match up to Briggs' approach.
There is a richness to Briggs' writing and to the world she's created that's truly impressive. It takes me less than a chapter to feel absolutely at home in the books (this happened when I first tried Moon Called and has happened with every successive volume -- not just in my going through them again on audio). What blew me away going through these books is how much of this series (and the spin-off series, Alpha and Omega) is established in Moon Called -- she's what, 14 books or so in and 98% of those books can be traced to this first one. Whether that's because she's good at going back and picking up details to flesh out or because she plotted things out so well, it really doesn't matter -- the material was there and she's using it well. The world she established is so well-formed that she can keep playing in it without having to invent new things, change the rules she established, or anything else. I can't think of another UF universe that was so well-built from book one.
King gives a really strong performance here -- her characters are spot-on, the narrative stays engaging. Really, a bang up job, with one big flaw: she can't pronounce local geographic names. Granted, most people who don't live in Washington/Idaho/Montana(ish) aren't going to notice, but man, it's hard to listen to. If I have to hear her butcher "Coeur d'Alene" one more time . . . On the other hand, there's this scene in Iron Kissed between Adam (local Alpha) and Ben (British werewolf who joined the pack because he had to leave England under suspicious circumstances) where Ben has to explain to Adam the psychological trauma Mercy's suffered and how she's reacting. When I first read the book, I was in shock a. because of the traumatic scene (really well written) and b. Ben's more than capable and empathetic understanding/explanation. This time through, King's performance just stunned me -- it was so good. She nailed the whole thing and almost had me in tears in my cubicle.
I loved the books, I think the audiobooks are among the best I've heard -- the only reason that I haven't gone further in this series of audiobooks is that the library system here doesn't have #4 (they do have the rest of the series, oddly enough), and I haven't justified the expense for myself yet. For old fans of the books, or people looking for something new to listen to -- these are well worth your time. Great material presented in a pretty compelling way.