Take a kitchen sink urban fantasy world (vampires and werewolves and Fae, oh my), toss in a few interesting twists and head it with a woman mechanic protagonist with a flair of Native American magic.
Worldbuilding-wise, there are a lot of urban fantasy tropes in here, but on the other hand tropes are tropes for a reason. The werewolves are extremely hierarchical (despite the fact that real world wolves aren’t actually, but it makes for a more interesting story) and there are some interesting aspects to pack magic that I haven’t seen elsewhere. Vampires are fairly typical thus far, although having one that drives around in a Mystery Machine van is kind of hilarious. (Plus I know we get more of him later). Walkers I’ve seen in other books and we really know little about them thus far (although to be fair, neither does Mercy), but it’s nice to have a bit of non-European flavor.
The big change and undercurrent to these books is the idea that the Fae came out to the general public a few decades ago. Only the lesser among the Fae, but it’s still interesting to see a world like that. You get an opportunity to explore racial tensions in particular. It’s an interesting idea and actually manages to tackle the elephant in the room of most urban fantasy–how in the world does the supernatural community stay hidden?
Characterwise, I like Mercy. She tough enough to get her way in a world of bigger bads and she’s got a lot of room to grow. Zee is a lot of fun, wrapped up in mystery. There’s not as much of him in this book as I’d like, but again, he’ll be back. Likewise with Stephan.
On the other hand, despite being the core of the plot, the werewolves all felt more or less interchangeable. We have Adam, the post-military, dominant Alpha; Samuel, the really-old-but-doesn’t-feel-it dominant who isn’t an Alpha; and Bran, the dominant-who-hides-it, maybe-a-little-bit-psychic Alpha of the Alphas. It never gets to the point that you cannot tell them apart, but at the same time they have very similar personalities.
On top of that, Samuel is the old love and Adam is being set up as the new love. Love triangles seem so very common in such books. At least it’s mostly played as humorous thus far. I have a sneaky suspicion that it’s going to get much worse though.
Overall, it’s a great book. I’ve read a few urban fantasy books that I really didn’t like, but I’m happy to say Mercy Thompson isn’t one of them. I look forward to listening to the rest of them.
First side note: Looking at the other reviews, a lot of people seem to expect this to be a paranormal romance rather than urban fantasy. The lines between the two tend to blend a lot, with some series even changing from one to another over time. So far at least, the Mercy Thompson books are most assuredly in the urban fantasy camp. There are hints of a future love triangle (see above), but that’s about it. A single kiss. So if you’re looking for something a bit more steamy… This is not the book for you.
Second side note: This is a re-read/listen for me. I’ve read them 2-3 times before, but this will be the first time listening to them on audiobooks. So far, I’m liking the narration. The narrator does a good job of giving each character their own voice, even shading them with what’s in the moment.