Welcome to this week’s rare Thursday “meeting” of the Preternatura Book Club! Today, we’re looking at Chapter 10 of the first book in Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series, Moon Called.
When we last left Mercy, she and Samuel had met up with the vampire Stefan outside the fae bar, Mike’s. Stefan is taking them to meet with the master of the local vampire seethe, and something is off about the whole meeting…we just aren’t sure what. The purpose of the meeting is to get information about the rogue pack of werewolves that came into the territory, attacked the local alpha, Adam, and kidnapped his teenage daughter.
MOON CALLED, Chapter 10
Mercy lives in a trailer and works as a mechanic, so she’s a little out of her element as they drive in her van into a wealthy neighborhood full of huge homes with expensive cars in the driveways. The home base of the vampire seethe is described as a “two-story, sprawling hacienda surrounded by an eight-foot wall.”
Stefan tells Mercy and Samuel he doesn’t expect things to get violent, but it’s obvious he’s not too sure. He has taken both of them under his protection, however, and Mercy doesn’t know why it’s such a big deal. She’s jittery about the whole thing for reasons she can’t pin down. When she questions Stefan, he uses some type of glamour to mask their conversation from eavesdropping vampire ears, he tells them the vampire Mistress is very interested in Samuel. Stefan wants to know what’s going on with his Mistress—apparently, she’s been in a funk for a long time (since she was “exiled” to the area), and this is the first sign of interest she’s shown in anything.
They go into a sitting room, and are joined shortly by a flaky female vampire in an odd assortment of clothing. Stefan treats her with respect but also a bit of extra care, so we get the idea she might have some stability issues. She too is taken with Samuel, and gets a little too close before Stefan pulls her away and diverts her to the piano. She plays masterfully. Stefan tells Mercy that the woman, Lilly, was turned vampire by a man who was taken by her musical ability and turned her before realizing she wasn’t quite sane. We also learn she normally isn’t allowed to wander around alone…our next hint that all is not right here. Another hint: Samuel seems oddly relaxed after meeting Lilly.
Next, another woman comes in—Estelle. There’s a lot of tension between her and Stefan. She’s come to tell them the Mistress wishes them to come to her instead of vice-versa—and Stefan can come with them. She takes Samuel’s cross, but doesn’t deem Mercy’s sign of faith, a small lamb representing the Lamb of God to her, important enough to confiscate. Nor did she care about Zee’s dagger.
Before they go, Stefan offers to take them away from there—he cannot protect them against his Mistress. Samuel insists on staying, and his words are slurred a bit. We haven’t been told this, but it’s pretty clear Sam has been enthralled—why this hasn’t occurred to Mercy, who’s usually very observant, I don’t know. I remember questioning this the first time I read it.
Mercy and Samuel follow Stefan down, down, down, into the bowels of the house. The Mistress of the seethe, Marsilia, is lounging Cleopatra-like on a sofa, and Mercy is bothered by the fact that she can’t quite pass for human. She’s trying, but her expressions and inflections are just a big off. It makes her scarier than your normal vampire. Like Lilly, she’s focused on Samuel. Sam manages to converse with her, but it’s still clear he isn’t quite himself.
Mercy can see the focus Marsilia is exerting on Samuel, and can scent his arousal in response to her as she keeps getting closer to him. Stefan now notices for the first time (why didn’t he scent it earlier?) blood on Samuel’s neck—Lilly had apparently gotten close enough to cut him.
Stefan reminds Marsilia that Mercy and Sam are under his protection, and it’s clear that someone within the seethe set it up so that Samuel would be too tempting for her to resist, causing a preternatural incident—or worse. But her control is poor, and Samuel is responding to her, so she jumps him and begins to feed from him. Mercy whips out her lamb, which in the presence of the vampire begins to glow—she presses it to Marsilia’s forehead and it burns her.
She pulls away from Samuel and shrieks—and Mercy realizes there are other vampires in the room—skinny, shambling ones. They all hit the floor, powerless (including Stefan and Samuel but not Mercy) under the onslaught of Marsilia’s will. Finally, after Stefan manages to tell her it was a trap, she releases them from her power. Marsilia eventually realizes Mercy didn’t respond to her power, which gives her pause.
Mercy’s attacked by one of the skinny, weak vampires, and manages to throw him. Unfortunately, he lands on Samuel and starts feeding again. Samuel’s still out of it. Marsilia removes her hungry minion, and leaves Samuel, Stefan and Mercy alone to find their way out.
All that, and no information.
So, that’s it for this week. Again, this week was mostly meant to introduce us to the vampires and tell us all’s not well in their seethe. But in the end we’re no closer to finding out anything about the rogue werewolves or Jesse. I’m finding myself impatient to get things moving now. And why wasn’t Stefan able to tell if Lilly had drawn blood from Samuel? Didn’t compute.
I will say, all this worldbuilding really pays off in subsequent books, which I think is why I’d forgotten how slowly this one built.