Briar Pryce has the power to change the emotions of others by handing them a rose. It is a talent that has done surprisingly little for her, besides landing her a dead-end enchantment delivery job and killing any chance she had with her childhood-crush-turned-roommate. Worst of all, her ability might be responsible for getting her best friend transformed into a cat via a cursed muffin basket. Needless to say, Briar is nowhere near happily-ever-after. But that’s just life as a twenty-something in the Poisoned Apple, New York City’s lost borough of fairy-tale wonder and rent-controlled magic.
When Briar reluctantly agrees to help find a princess’s kidnapped boyfriend in exchange for reversing the curse on her friend, she gets the heroic quest she never really wanted. Unfortunately, the life of a noble heroine is not all it’s cracked up to be – the hours blow, and Briar suspect that the Royal family employing her might be evil, Republican, or both. To complete the suckage, a killer smoke magician is stalking Briar as she searches both the Poisoned Apple and Manhattan for the missing boy. As tensions between the Poisoned Apple royalty ignite and civil war looms, Briar must figure out how to write her own happy ending--or she’ll just be ending.
It is so refreshing to pick up a book with a strong female protagonist, that was written by a man, passes the Bechedel test, and isn't a completely ridiculous take on women and how they view themselves (check out #menwritingwomen on Twitter). To top all that off, this was an incredibly fun story that kept my attention through to the end, and I finished it in one sitting.
Pricked is an Urban Fantasy novel, taking place in The Poisoned Apple, a parallel dimension of Fey, and NYC. Briar is hired by a member of the court to find his daughter's kidnapped boyfriend to stop a war between two different Fey courts. Obviously, not everything is as it seems, and there is oodles of shady dealings happening behind the scenes that Briar and her hired Knight are kept in the dark from.
There is a small love triangle, but I use that for lack of a better term. There are a few errant thoughts spattered here and there throughout the story, but it is not the focus. Briar's character is strong and most definitely not one-dimensional. She is relatable and likable. She has her flaws, but they're not overly done.
Pricked is full of angst and laughs. Laugh out loud moments were abundant, and Mooney was delivered some of the best names for places and things that mirrored our own world. Briar shopped for groceries at Troll Foods. I wish I would have thought to highlight all those little nuances while I was reading to refer back to, because that small aspect of the story really pulled things together. It really is the small things that can make or break the success of a novel, and Mooney is clearly a master.
My favorite aspect of the story is that it can be enjoyed by all: men, women, children, and teens. It is PG13 and not too campy (just the right amount of campy). It seems to be marketed toward adults, but it is more a mature YA. I'm assuming the target audience is adults because of the 90's pop culture references scattered through the story. The characters aren't fresh out of high school, but they are young (Briar is 21), and they all definitely have to room to grow. But that works because this is the start of a new series.
All-in-all, I absolutely loved this fresh take on fairy tales and fey, and cannot wait to get my hands on the next book in this series. Scott Mooney's writing style is unique and entertaining, and he has a new fan for life.
Grab a copy of Pricked here.