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I read and liked the first book from this series, Moon Called, a while ago, so I added the rest of the books to my wishlist, and eventually bought this one.
Mercy Thompson, a mechanic who also happens to be a shape-shifter who was raised by werewolves, is a compelling character, and the author did a great job developing all the characters around her in a way that macd me care about them, even when they weren't exactly someone I could sympathize with easily. That alone is enough to keep me interested in the books, but this series has more than enthralling character development. It has a great background, lore and plot to go with it.
Comparing this to the first book, they are largely on the same level. If anything, I found this second book better, at least in terms of story. It was fast-paced and interesting enough that I read it in one sitting through the afternoon (completely forgetting about mundane things such as water or getting up to stretch my legs). The first book focused mainly on werewolf troubles and politics, with only glimpses of the vampires and the fae. This one is more focused on the vampire community, although something that started off as their problem (and Mercy's, due to her friendship with a vampire) quickly spreads to affect not only the other preternatural creatures, but also the humans as well. It doesn't help that the werewolves have just outed themselves to humanity, either. The balance of power and politics between each group was very interesting to follow.
The dynamics of the vampire community were explored in a way that really impressed me. It's believable and makes sense, as far as these things go. I also loved the fact that the vampires in this series are in fact dark, unpredictable, mostly evil creatures (big sigh of relief!) that are only attractive when they choose to be, and even then for selfish reasons (mostly, but not limited to, feeding). Yet I still found myself sympathizing with them, and I applaud the author for presenting things from the eyes of only one person (Mercy, who acts as the narrator) while still being able to show each side's perspective in a way that makes it hard not to like even the outright evil creatures.
I also liked that the romance wasn't sentimental or pushed and just tied in neatly without distracting from the story. I have very little patience for overly romantic things, and the main character seemed to share that trait, being way too down to earth and practical to dwell too much on moping, when there are bills to be paid and dead bodies showing up everywhere, but still managing not to be too cold or disengaging.
I recommend this series for people who like fantasy and are looking for something easy, but well-constructed, to read.