Jane Doe gets a couple of surprises when Victoria O’Henry turns up dead. The first is that someone has killed the scion of the local werewolf pack and most powerful family in town. The second is that her brother is the prime suspect. So when Jane’s best friend (and Victoria’s sister) asks her to look into the murder, what else is a teenage weredeer supposed to do?

Set in the outdated town of Bright Falls, I Was A Teenage Weredeer shows a world where supernatural creatures have announced their presence to the world but have been forced to remain in specific places due to the slow change of state laws. This is addressed sparingly, hinting at a greater world (with greater concerns) beyond the town, but giving just enough detail to keep things realistic.

The town itself owes a debt to Twin Peaks; the murder in a rural locale and with many of its inhabitants having their secrets to protect. It’s something the author acknowledges with some of the many in-jokes sprinkled throughout the story. Jane (and yes, that is her real name) and her friend Emma, are well up on their pop culture so the references come thick and fast.

As do the puns. In the world the author has created, not only do the different breeds of shapeshifters have their own roles in society (Weredeer are the shamen, werewolves are the leaders etc) but they also have their own personality traits. It turns out that weredeer love puns and make them frequently, sometimes even when they aren’t aware of it.

There was a lot I liked about this book. As mentioned above, the world building is excellent and I always love a good reference. Having said that, there were odd occasions were the jokes fell a little flat or felt forced and while the book features plenty of tropes and uses them to its advantage, there was at least one that made me think “Not this again.” Whether this is something the author intends to let play out or subvert, I have yet to learn.

Still, these are minor quibbles. Overall, the writing is excellent and the main characters read believably despite all the supernatural shenanigans. A sequel, An American Weredeer in Michigan, is already available and has already been added to my TBR list.

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