Mercy Thompson is not your average mechanic. For starters, the VW bus she is fixing in her garage belongs to a vampire. The former owner of her mechanic shop is a gremlin, her neighbor is a werewolf(not just any werewolf-the Alpha of the local pack) and she is a Skinwalker.
When a new werewolf shows up in town on her doorstep asking for work, she helps him and ends up getting herself mixed up in an oncoming war between Alphas.
I loved this book. I did not expect to because it has three things authors very rarely do well (for my taste): Skinwalker mythology, werewolves and vampires. I love the concepts behind all three of those things but they get watered down and boring in most genres these days (See: Twilight and True Blood) It’s the same reason I avoid all things Zombie.
Cool concept. Poor execution.
But Patricia Briggs handles all three masterfully. The werewolves feel like…werewolves. Like dominant, pack creatures who you would never want to make angry. There is something quietly powerful in how she writes all of the werewolves-especially the main Alpha’s you meet-Samuel, Adam and Bran. Their weaknesses and strengths make sense and stay consistent. They don’t suffer from Superman syndrome (where they will have abilities all of a sudden that they have never had before just to get out of a sticky situation)
The vampires, though not shown too much in the first book (my understanding is they are more prominent in some other books. I’ve started the second one and that definitely seems to be the case) are terrifying. They don’t sparkle or whine about their existence. They are powerful, ancient and magical. You don’t want to go into a vampire lair. Accompanied by werewolves or not.
The Skinwalker mythology is scarce in this one but for good reason. She is the only Skinwalker she knows and what she knows about herself doesn’t fit with the Native American/Werewolf mythology of her people. She can turn into a coyote but she doesn’t require coyote skin to do it, she isn’t evil and she wields no magic. What she does know is she can shift, she has heightened senses which help her read situations and she is immune to some magic and no one knows why.
The threats in the books come fast and they are believable. You know Mercy is going to get out okay because there are eight more books in the series, but she is not always the one you are worrying about.
Patricia Briggs also is a master at character development. Even her side characters you may only see once or twice are fully fleshed people. She spends time with the characters, creating and resolving subplots in a few paragraphs that manage to aid the overall story.
If you enjoy the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, then I definitely recommend checking out the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. Both Urban Fantasy, both set in worlds almost identical to ours with the exception of magic being prominent(and, in the Mercy Thompson series, even known about by the general public) and Mercy Thompson is a coyote shapeshifter rather than a wizard.