Book Review: I Was a Teenage Weredeer (Bright Falls Mysteries #1) by C.T. Phipps & Michael Suttkus
This is a fun urban fantasy murder mystery which follows the adventures of 18-year-old Jane Doe in the Michigan town of Bright Falls as she hunts for the killer of her best friend’s sister, Victoria, after the murder is pinned on Jane’s brother.
Jane is a weredeer, from a weredeer family, who can change shape into a deer in an instant. How cool! Weredeers’ special powers include shamanism and magic. Jane’s speciality is touching objects and seeing true visions about their owners. Handy when investigating murders.
Bright Falls is one of the few places that supernaturals can live in relative peace after the ‘Reveal’, an event which saw supernatural beings like shapeshifters, vampires, wizards and demons come out of the closet officially and to live in society with humans.
But not all is swell. There’s only a few places in the US where shapeshifters are protected from being shot as vermin and Bright Falls is one of them. Jane longs to get out of the town but doesn’t have many options. Bright Falls is haunted by a pissed off god and run by a rich werewolf family with a bastard patriarchal werewolf and a curse on their males.
It turns out that Victoria’s murder is just the tip of the iceberg. Jane teams up with the human FBI agent, who happens to be a master magician, to work out how the murders link to the pissed-off god, the werewolf family and also, shockingly to her own family.
Told entirely from the narrative of Jane, the story unfolds at a fast pace as Jane uncovers decades-old secrets, cults and revengeful drug dealers. She also learns more about her own power and an accident from her past that she's always blamed herself for. Jane is a sarcastic teen, with a quick return quip for everything and there’s plenty of in-jokes and banter between her and her best friend. I found Jane funny and entertaining, but if snarky teenagers get on your nerves then she might grate after a while.
There’s loads of pop culture references to things like Doctor Who, Lord of the Rings and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I’ll admit, lots went right over my head. There's some really funny moments, like the fact that weredeers are known for their puns. The mystery unravels with some great action and twists.
I had two small niggles: the weird Jane / FBI agent / drug dealer love triangle. She’s only 18, and a bit dorky, so why would these older guys both fawn over her (deer pun alert!) Just didn’t sit right with me. The second was that Jane continually told people off for being racist, reprimanded herself for being racist and talked about being racist A LOT. I found the high repetition a bit odd.
Other than that, this was a great urban fantasy read and would definitely appeal to those who love spotting references to TV shows, books, comics and movies. Also, for readers who appreciate tongue-in-cheek humour and witty banter and are looking for a refreshing change from the usual werewolf shapeshifter stories.
My rating: 4.5/5
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This review can also be found on Fantasy Book Review.
* I received a free copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
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