I Was a Teenage Weredeer by C.T. Phipps & Michael Suttkus
Crossroad Press, 2017
Paperback. 256 pages.
About the book:
"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."
Urban and supernatural fantasy are not genres I read on a regular basis, but I am so glad that I decided to take a chance and read I Was a Teenage Weredeer because it was such a fun and deeply interesting story.
What stood out to me the most and what I personally enjoyed the most was that this book does not pretend to be anything other than what it is, which is a fun, mostly light-hearted supernatural mystery with some darker twists and turns throughout. It's not necessarily the best book I've ever read, but it is without a doubt one of the books I've laughed throughout the most, and that has to mean something. I am also a fan of some good puns, so all the deer-related puns were top notch for me.
The characters are all consistently complex and are so entertaining to read. Jane is a fantastic narrator with a dry sense of humor and witty commentary that I loved. There were times when I felt like there was a bit of information overload and I struggled to make sure I took note of everything, but Jane's narrative voice really made everything interesting to follow along with. I appreciated that Jane was willing to get involved in solving this murder for her friend and brother's sake despite having no experience in solving murders and despite a few rather terrifying obstacles along the way (I mean, getting stuck in hell isn't exactly fun, now is it?)
Another prominent character is Jane's friend Emma, a werewolf. Emma provided a nice contrast to Jane at many points in this novel, and I really liked how many different elements she brought to the story in addition to Jane's own opinions and experiences. It really helped to flesh out the story, and the other characters in this book did much of the same, though on smaller scales since they were less prominent characters.
One of my favorite aspects of this book was simply learning about the world. It's not a fully alternative world, as everything takes place on Earth--specifically in the United States--but it is a world where supernatural beings (werewolves, weredeer, were-you-name-it, vampires, etc.) are all now existing and out in the open. I really appreciated how much detail the authors put into that element and how they made it feel like a real, believable world, especially with how issues of racism and stereotypes of various beings were shown and used. I found the latter aspect to be a clever way to sort of showcase these types of attitudes and how bad they are in our own world and this fictional world, especially with the laws in some states that allow 'shifters' (were-animals) to be shot on sight.
Overall, I've given I Was a Teenage Weredeer four stars! If you're looking for a fun, entertaining read with some interesting story elements, then definitely give this one a shot. If you don't like puns, well, then you might want to hoof it somewhere else.
Buy the book: Amazon