Mercy Thompson is a walker, a shape-shifter who can take on the shape of a coyote. She works as a mechanic and generally tries to keep out of trouble, but trouble tends to find her anyway. When a young werewolf boy shows up at her garage looking for work, Mercy tries to help him and finds herself dragged into a conspiracy. Jesse, daughter of Adam the local Alpha werewolf, is kidnapped and with Adam injured and his pack's security compromised, Mercy has no choice but to go back to her foster family, a werewolf pack, for help.
Don't judge this book by it's awful, pornified cover. Mercy Thompson says she isn't too hung up on modesty, being a shape-shifter, but at no point in the story does she pose like she's in a music video with one hip jutting out, her hair blowing in her face and her shirt half open exposing her cleavage and midriff. She's a mechanic, that would be a health and safety issue. At least she is actually facing the viewer and looks like a whole person, not just a headless torso with a sexy tattoo or an extreme close-up of a pair of lips sexily breathing out smoke. The things publishers do with female characters in paranormal books make me cranky. They never show Harry Dresden with his shirt off.
But I digress. The book is nothing like the cover. Mercy is a capable heroine who runs her own business and walks her own path in life. I liked the interaction between her and the wolves, and her back story as a coyote skin-walker. The characters have believable motives for the things they do and while some werewolves embrace the change, others see themselves as monsters.
Some booksellers class the series as paranormal romance rather than urban fantasy, but so far there isn't a whole lot of romance. Mercy meets up with Samuel, with whom she fell in love as a teenager, and there is some sexual tension between her and Adam but nothing really comes of it. I suppose that's setting things up for the later books.
There's nothing particularly original about the world building, with fairly standard werewolves, vampires etc. As with Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series, there are few female werewolves because women don't usually survive the process of becoming one. I find this trope a bit irritating. If it's shock and physical pain that kills new wolves it would make more sense for things to be the other way around since women's bodies are equipped to survive childbirth.
The audio version of this book is narrated by Lorelei King (who also narrates Kathy Reichs' and Janet Evanovich's books), who does a sterling job. In addition to the audio and book version there is also a comic series based on the books.
Moon Calledis a promising start to the Mercy Thompson series. There's nothing especially original about the story, but it is well executed and entertaining. I will probably pick up the next in the series, Blood Bound, which has a cover that looks just as bad as this one.