Book Review: Moonblood by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

03 September 2013

Writing book reviews, like writing books, grows harder still with each review I write. Every time I sit down to share my thoughts on my most recent read, my brain shuts down and refuses to offer up a single intelligent statement. Maybe it's a good thing, then, that most of my book reviews remain drafts for a month or two after I finish the book itself, as that keeps me from out and out gushing. I've found that the best way to write up a review is to leave the book for a time until you're able to adequately cover its most valuable aspects, while Goodreads is better suited to the squealing and gushing that naturally follow the completion of an excellent story.

In other words, I've had this post in my drafts folder for over two months, and I'm decidedly unapologetic.

Moonblood
By Anne Elisabeth Stengl
*Summary taken from Goodreads.com

Desperate to regain the trust of his kingdom, Prince Lionheart reluctantly banishes his faithful servant and only friend, Rose Red. Now she is lost in the hidden realm of Arpiar, held captive by her evil goblin father, King Vahe. 

Vowing to redeem himself, Lionheart plunges into the mysterious Goldstone Wood, seeking Rose Red. In strange other worlds, Lionheart must face a lyrical yet lethal tiger, a fallen unicorn, and a goblin horde on his quest to rescue the girl he betrayed. 

With the Night of Moonblood fast approaching, when King Vahe seeks to wake the Dragon's sleeping children, Lionheart must discover whether or not his heart contains courage before it's too late for Rose Red . . . and all those he loves.

My Thoughts: As those of you who have read my reviews for Heartless and Veiled Rose are aware, I have a pet interest in Lionheart, alias Leonard the Lightning Tongue. After two books of watching him struggle and fail, I rejoiced at the chance to see him redeemed. True, the beginning of Moonblood didn't encourage me much — banishing the only faithful friend you've ever had isn't the most conventional way of turning your life around — but he soon realizes the ghastly mistake he's made. Before long, the former prince is valiantly journeying through Goldstone Wood with skeptical Eanrin by his side, bent on retrieving his dear friend and subsequently scrubbing the stain from his name once and for all. But can he manage to fulfill such an impossible task in the few days left to his disposal?

The quality of Anne Elisabeth's writing improves drastically with each story. I enjoyed Moonblood even more than Veiled Rose and Heartless, and I have no doubt the books that follow in her series will be better still. This brings to the surface one of the elements in Stengl's writing that I so appreciate — she's never afraid to keep improving her craft, even though there was little at fault from book one. She maintains her original style, a charming mix of ancient fairytales, modern expressions, and Christian allegory, and yet with each book I grow, as Alice would have it, curiouser and curiouser to read more of her tales. She truly is a gifted wordcrafter.

Pros: The allegory within Moonblood is expertly woven, and the fantasy is at it's prime. Each layer runs deeper and deeper in much the same manner as King Vahe's veils until you're completely entangled. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and even stayed up past 3 A.M. at one point for the purpose of having some of my curiosity satisfied.

Cons: Violence is a darker, albeit necessary, aspect of this book. I did not find it excessive, but between it and the one or two instances of strong language, I would not recommend Moonblood for younger readers.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
I recommend this book for ages 12+

A Bit O' Reading For the Day:
“I'll never tell you to stop loving. You see, I believe in hopeless love. Oh yes. I believe in it with all my heart, though you may discount the heart of an old nanny like me. For real love brings pain. Real love means sacrifices and hurts and all the thousand shocks of life. But it also means beauty, true beauty.” — Moonblood

4 epistles:

  1. I have yet to read any of her books sans Dragonwitch, but I loved that. And what a wonderful quote at the end.

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    1. Dragonwitch looks stupendous; I read and really enjoyed the review you gave for it. I'd love to start it now, but I should probably finish Starflower first. Hmm . . .

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  2. Wow. I've had my eye on this book (as well as others in the series) and I am becoming more and more convinced that I should read them. Agreeing with Rachel - it is a beautiful quote! An excellent review, Elizabeth. And I am apt on many occasion to feel quite the same way about writing reviews. ~ Annie-JoElizabeth

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    1. You must! You really must! They're splendid fantasy. And I'm happy to hear I'm not the only one who has trouble writing reviews. ^.^

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