From Kate's Writing Crate…
As a reader, I always love finding books that appeal to me. As a writer, I am twice as pleased when the authors also provide masterclasses within their books.
Masterclasses take place when performance artists and musicians work one-on-one with students. Writers don't generally have this option, but I have found some books to be masterclasses for characters, backstories, plots, settings, voice and/or creativity.
Since it's October, I'm recommending fiction that relates to Halloween. The paranormal genre may not appeal to everyone, but I've found reading strong writing in any form helps improve my writing. This recommended series includes excellent examples of all of the reasons I listed in the introduction plus humor and action scenes.
My favorite series by Patricia Briggs centers around Mercedes (Mercy) Thompson. Half Native American on her father's side, she's a walker which means she can see and communicate with ghosts as well as shift shape into a coyote. (The backstory: Her teenaged mother, a rodeo groupie left alone and pregnant when Mercy's father died in a car accident, had no idea how to raise a child with these talents so Mercy was raised by the leader of all North American werewolves in Montana. Most werewolves have no respect for coyotes so Mercy learned how to get along with others, how to get around others, and how to stand up to others.)
The series is set in Washington state where Mercy, a college graduate history major, is now the owner/mechanic of a garage specializing in German cars located about 10-15 minutes from her home and her neighbor, Adam Hauptman, the sexy, forceful, but fair-minded Alpha werewolf of the local pack. Mercy and Adam clash and spar quite often, but Mercy admires him especially as he's a good father two years out of a divorce raising his 15-year-old daughter, Jesse.
Besides werewolves and walkers, a local seethe of vampires, various fae creatures, and Russian witches all reside nearby. Mercy is friends with Zee, a gremlin, who trained her then sold her his garage, and Stefan, a powerful vampire who drives a VW bus painted to match the Mystery Machine in Scooby Doo.
In Moon Called, humans are finding out about the fae living among them. The werewolves are considering going public since DNA and other forensic tools will soon prove their existence, but not all of them think this is a good idea—and not every werewolf is good, especially those who attack Adam and kidnap Jesse. Mercy races to help, but more allies are needed to rescue the Hauptmans and defeat enemies known and unknown.
The rest of the series titles are: Blood Bound, Iron Kissed, Bone Crossed, Silver Borne, River Marked, Frost Burned, Night Broken, and Shifting Shadows: Stories from the World of Mercy Thompson. (Warning: These books include violence and a sexual assault.)
In each book, Mercy helps her friends, sometimes their friends, and sometimes even the enemies-of-my-enemies-are-my-friends fight evil in many forms. A purple belt in karate, Mercy can fight hand-to-hand or shift to a coyote and fight with real bite. Her sense of smell and her ability to detect magic are also invaluable assets.
Mercy and Adam are drawn closer to each other with every conflict and adventure. Their evolving relationship is one of the best parts of this urban fantasy series, but all the characters and the action-packed plots are spellbinding.