I Was A Teenage Weredeer by C. T. Phipps and Michael Suttkus

Series: Bright Fall Mysteries #1 Rating: 3.5/5
Date of Publishing: September 1st 2017 Genre: fantasy, urban fantasy, mystery, humor
Format: Kindle Available: Amazon, Barnes & Noble
Number of pages: 256 Author’s website: http://unitedfederationofcharles.blogspot.com/

“Alex grinned then raised his hands and started chanting something I briefly thought to be the language of magic before recognizing it as Quenya from The Lord of the Rings. Deer Christ on a pogo stick, this guy might actually be a bigger geek than Jeremy.”

Blurb

FROM THE BEST SELLING AUTHOR OF THE SUPERVILLAINY SAGA

Jane Doe is a weredeer, the least-threatening shapechanger species in the world. Blessed with the ability to turn furry at will and psychically read objects, Jane has done her best to live a normal life working as a waitress at the Deerlightful Diner. She has big dreams of escaping life in the supernatural-filled town of Bright Falls, Michigan, and her eighteenth birthday promises the beginning of her teenage dreams coming true.

Unfortunately, her birthday is ruined by the sudden murder of her best friend's sister in an apparent occult killing. Oh, and her brother is the primary suspect. Allying with an eccentric FBI agent, the local crime lord, and a snarky werecrow, Jane has her work cut out for her in turning her big day around.

Thankfully, she's game.

Set in the same world as Straight Outta Fangton.

Personal notes

I’ve got a copy from C. T. Phipps in exchange of an honest review.  And honest I will be. I have very mixed feelings about this one and after the first 25% or so I wasn’t sure if I’m going to like it or not. Then I realized I shouldn’t take this one too seriously and so I was able to enjoy it in the end. I guess my problem is – as always – that I had too high expectations. And this is not the book’s criticism, rather mine. My mom never fails to throw it at my head that I’m single because I have too high expectations, so I’m aware of the problem. Anyway, according to this I had to reset my mindset so I could view this book the way it deserves to be viewed, not the way my stupid mind wants to.

Review

The story is set in a small town in Michigan called Bright Falls, after the Revelation – the vampires decided it was time for a coming out and humanity had to face the reality of the supernatural. Michigan is one of the few places where shapeshifters can live in peace without being hunt down without any reason. Although the focus of the story lies elsewhere this conflict itself would be worth a novel. So Jane lives in Bright Falls and she wants to get as far away from it as she can get. Until, that is, the Revelation, which doesn’t leaves too much choice for her. She could follow in her mother’s footsteps, who is the shaman of the town, but she doesn’t have enough magic for that. Or so she thinks. In the shapeshifter society every race has its own role to play: the weredeers (Jane’s family) are the magic wielders, the ones who acts shaman for the community, the werewolves are the leaders, etc. However, times are changing, and now the Old Ways aren’t the only set of rules they have to obey to. The government laid out new laws regarding the freshly arisen situation and things are still rocky and uncertain. Hence, not everyone is happy with how things are. If that wasn’t enough (and you can never have enough trouble in a fantasy/mystery book) someone decided it was time to commit some ritualistic murders.

One of the victims is Victoria, Emma’s sister, who happens to be Jane’s best friend, member of the werewolf clan. Actually, the granddaughter of the werewolf clan’s head, Marcus O’Henry. I give you a moment to process this: a deer and a wolf as best friends. Yep. And that’s not all, Jane’s sister dates Emma’s brother, while Jane’s brother, Jeremy dates Victoria. Thus Jeremy becomes the prime suspect in Victoria’s murder. Emma begs to Jane to help her find out what happened using her physic abilities. She agrees more to help his brother than care for Victoria. Nonetheless she ends up flank deep in the investigation and the mystery surrounding the Darkwater Preserve, while everyone ends up dumping long kept secrets on her.

The pace of the book is a bit uneven, sometimes you wish the characters would move on from standing around and exchanging snarky comments and puns. Although the humor saves it and there are some really clever deer puns added. On the other hand, sometimes it feels like the author tries too hard to be funny and witty or explain the joke wich totally ruins the effect it could have. Also, there were too many pop cultural references for my taste, and while it might appeal for the geeky types out there, for me it was overdone. I especially liked the banter between Maria, Emma and Jane. And Kim Su! She was my favorite character, too bad she didn’t have more role. Maybe in book 2.

And since we are talking about characters. They are the weak points of the book. By the end Jane grew on me with her snarky, sarcastic comments (her calling herself racist about every two page in one of the chapters really ticked me off though), and because I could absolutely sympathize with her on this:

“I don’t want to be inconsequential. I don’t want to be who I am. I want to be someone who matters. That requires being more than just a person who eats leaves three days a month.”

Well, okay, maybe not the leaves eating part. However, I struggled to feel anything for Emma or Jeremy or the others. And they all had some crappy memory to carry with themselves too. I Was A Teenage Weredeer works with stereotypical characters – all women are gorgeous, except our MC of course, all the males are handsome or at least those who have important roles – which would be cool, if it managed to put on them a twist which would make them interesting enough. And that’s where it fails. Sure, every one of them is a shapeshifter or a mage, has their Gifts and own dark or not so dark secrets, but that hardly makes it easy to tell them apart from each other. At least the guys are more separable with the quite lunatic FBI agent and the “bad guy” crime lord. I just wish Jane wouldn’t act like a school girl around them. The complicated relationships/family ties aren’t helping much either, and probably would’ve been better if it was left out completely. However, it should be noted that there are a lot of serious topic being discussed underneath the YA-ish surface: tolerance towards each other regardless of our race, political views or sexual interests, abuse, dealing with death and guilt, etc. Also has thoughts like this:

“America is a study in contrasts. It is a nation founded on the principles of equality and democracy but built with slavery as well as genocide. We must acknowledge both sides of our heritage to forge the future.”

Which is pretty actual if you think about it.

I Was A Teenage Weredeer is a rather light, fun read with pop cultural references from Game of Thrones, Star Wars, Buffy and many others fan probably will deerly love and enjoy. Those who like YA will find this an enjoyable read with a snarky heroine, several supernatural species and a mystery that holds a few twists. When you think it’s over, well, you have to think again. Underneath the cheesy, sarcastic surface however, are some thoughts which sets this book apart from the typical YA crowd. Plus the fact it has weredeers! And puns. Don’t be surprised if you end up saying deer puns for a few days after reading I Was A Teenage Weredeer. It has that effect on you whether you liked it or not. Accept it.

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