|Series: Bright Falls Mysteries #2
|Date of Publishing: October 12th 2017
|Genre: fantasy, urban fantasy, mystery
|Available: Amazon, Barnes & Noble
|Number of pages: 260
|Author’s website: http://unitedfederationofcharles.blogspot.com/
Quote of the Book
“She wasn’t wearing any of the white the other members of the Ultralogists wore, but a black hoodie that read “Pandamonium” with a cuddly fat panda wrecking a table.”
FROM THE BEST-SELLING AUTHOR OF THE RULES OF SUPERVILLAINY:
Life is not easy for the world’s first weredeer detective. A simple hike turns into a media circus when Jane Doe, her best friend Emma, and a pair of monster hunters find a mass grave. Determined to find the parties responsible, Jane soon discovers a sinister cult leader has decided to make Bright Falls, Michigan the home of his corrupt religion.
As if this wasn’t complicating her life enough, Jane also has to decide whether or not she wants to begin a relationship with FBI Special Agent Alex Timmons or local crime lord Lucien Lyons. Both men are determined to get to the bottom of the crime she’s investigating but may be distracted by their own agendas–as well as their love for Jane.
After having somewhat mixed feelings about I Was a Teenage Weredeer, I was still determined to give the series a second chance. Maybe it helped that I knew what to expect so I was able to enjoy it more.
Also, I know that quote I choose is not really representing, but it has a panda in it. Those who don’t know me: I’m a sucker for pandas. At one point I considered naming my blog Book Pandamonium or something like that. It definitely has Pandamonium in it.
Song of the Book
The other day I posted a P!nk song and C.T. mentioned Jane’s personality was partly inspired by P!nk. So I was bound to pick a song from her. Which wasn’t exactly easy. I went through a few potential ones, but What About Us seemed to be the closest I imagined for both Jane and the book. It’s kind of like her plead to the goddess. And that’s all I will say about this.
An American Weredeer in Michigan is set in a few months after the events in I Was A Teenage Weredeer. Jane appoints herself as the shaman of the town, Alex chases bad boys working for the FBI and Emma tries to avoid her family as much as she can. The short peace of the town is broken when Jane and Emma finds dozens of baby skeletons under a cliff. If a ritual serial killer isn’t enough, the leader of a cult called Ultralogy also appears on the scene seemingly fighting for saving the forest from Emma’s family. Once again, Jane finds herself in the middle of a magical conflict and promises she has to keep, even though it might end up with a disaster.
Jane is as witty and sarcastic as ever and I actually found myself warming up to her even more. She absolutely has no filter between her brain and mouth and thus she ends up in situations which she would be able to avoid otherwise. I’m still not sure about Emma, but it’s kind of cute the way Jane treats her like a puppy sometimes. I suspect if anyone else tried to handle her the same way, would end up with a limb or two missing. A few other characters from the previous book are also present, namely Alex and Lucien, still fighting over Jane, trying to outdo each other. At the beginning I was a bit worried that the love triangle is going to be a main plotline, but thankfully this part of the book was well written and Phipps didn’t overdo it. A little drama never hurts a story, but sometimes it’s hard to find the balance between enough and a bit overboard. Aside from the “old” cast, this book has new characters too namely Robyn and John Jones and a few others. Oh, and Raguel, the talking gun has much more role in this book, and apparently had become one of my favorite “characters”.
“My mother used to say any miracle that doesn’t leave you quivering on the ground questioning your sanity is insufficiently miraculous.” – Robyn
The plot itself is quite simple: Jane has to figure out who is behind the baby serial killing what the Ultalogists really want in Bright Falls, and what these two things have to do with each other, if anything. All the while she tries to keep her personal life together. While this time around I enjoyed all the pop cultural references more (especially the Harry Potter ones for obvious reasons) it felt like the mystery itself was just there to have a reason for Jane and the others to go from one place to the next, and for her to show off her sarcastic self.
“I tried to believe that. Of course, it would have been easier to believe if not for the fact I had to turn into a deer to duck out of the way of Jones pulling out a wand then firing glowing balls of hellish fire at me. ‘You are not going to Avada Kedavra me, Hermione!’ I shouted.”
For me the balance between comedy and mystery was off a bit and this book either should have been about 100 pages longer or should have one plot less to properly build up the mystery part and focus on that more. I mean, just the Ultralogist plotline would be good for a book if built up from scratch because it has a potential to be a twisting tale with interesting enough characters and villains. As it was, they felt like they were just in the story to have some bad guys for good measure. They felt lifeless, even though as I said, had the potential. A cult, especially a religious cult is always a good base for a book. Here the plot revolved more around the Dryad and Robyn and although this was interesting and raising a lot of questions, just wasn’t strong enough for a leading plot. Maybe if the Brotherhood was more involved, because that itself also has a lot of potential for a story. Probably less side characters crammed into such a short book would have been better too. We don’t really get to know them and they leave less space for the main characters to have their arcs, thus making it hard to connect with any of them.
Phipps obviously has fun writing this series and these characters. Once I put aside my initial misjudges after I read I Was a Teenage Weredeer I was able to enjoy the sequel much more. It’s witty, has a lot of references to pop culture (most of which I don’t get because I’m admittedly totally clueless), and a few turn of events which was actually surprising. But I can’t decide if I should take this book seriously (does it takes itself seriously?) or should I just look at it as some popcorn fun. Even so, An American Weredeer in Michigan improved compared to I Was a Teenage Weredeer. I could lean back, read, and just enjoy myself while giggling at some of Jane’s or the Merlin Gun’s comments. Who liked the first book of the Bright Falls Mysteries or C.T. Phipps’ other books, will find this one just as entertaining and full of deer puns which you’d think is impossible. If you are looking for some easy read, and Urban Fantasy with a comedy streak and a story with some moral lessons, shapeshifters and mages, the Bright Falls Mysteries might be up your alley.