Hey all & happy Sunday! Today on the blog I’m bringing to you guys my review for The Shattered Moon by Alexander Wilkinson. I received an eBook copy of this book from Mr. Wilkinson in exchange for an honest review, and this was made possible via a collaboration with @spotlight.tours on Instagram (formerly known as @readandreviewtours).
Synopsis: The land of Arrolyn has never seen such evil wash up upon it’s shores. Through shadow and flame the kingdom will fall.
Shaya Greyborn dreams of setting off on an adventure with her sword in hand. At the age of thirteen, she finally gets her wish, but the journey she embarks upon is more perilous than she ever imagined. She is being hunted. After rescuing Rowan, the young prince of Arrolyn, the unlikely pair venture across the kingdom as darkness follows them, crawling it’s [sic] way across the land. Shaya’s quest begins now, but is she ready?
Favorite quotes: “Some children had their favorite toy or a blanket from when they were a baby to comfort them, Shaya Greyborn had a sword.” (272)
So there’s a lot to talk about with this book. Unfortunately, it consists of some heavy constructive criticism. I want to start by saying I am thankful for Mr. Wilkinson for sharing his work with me, and by no means does my opinion mean that this is a bad book! Let’s start with the positives:
#1: The characters and their relationships
The characters in TSM were phenomenal. I often say that in dystopian books with MCs that are children, they are way too serious and keenly aware of the world to believably be their age. However, this was NOT the case in TSM! Shaya, on more than one occasion, questions her own capability and painfully longs to be at home and safe like she was before the darkness began. Prince Rowan is also thirteen, a prince, and in the beginning very reluctant to leave his life of luxury and his formal title within the castle walls. When Shaya and Rowan’s adventure first begins, he is fussy about Shaya forgetting to address him as “Prince Rowan” or “your highness,” and he also develops a little bit of an attitude when Shaya tells him to take off his crown because they were gaining an audience. Believably royal; believably thirteen years old. I praise this so much.
(I could have you arrested quote, take off your crown quote, etc.)
And of course throughout the atrocities that these children witness, formalities begin to mean nothing, showing character development and values shifting. Prince Rowan soon tells Shaya to just call him Rowan: (it’s just rowan quote).
Besides the characters themselves, their relationships were also very genuine and valuable to this book. Shaya is bonded to her Uncle Benjin, and Prince Rowan is under the guise of Elle, who works under the king as his and Rowan’s protector. First of all: woot-woot for nontraditional family dynamics! Both of these relationships are formed by unique circumstances and not by blood, which I really love to see and want to see more of in books in general. Second of all, these relationships are a major pull-at-your-heart-strings-while-also-making-you-laugh kind of vibe. For example…
1 minute later:
#2: The different races and kingdoms—-the fantastical aspects of the book.
This is my first time reading a fantasy dystopian book, so I thoroughly enjoyed trying to paint a mental picture of all the different kinds of beings. I imagined the Krarg like giant snakes but with the razor sharp teeth and tails, and oddly enough, I imagined Rakmar a giant version of the Prisoner skin from Fortnight…
But all jokes aside, the fantasy aspect of this book made it interesting and helped me exercise some mental creativity.
Finally, #3: The plot*
I think this book had a great premise. I was very intrigued by the sudden darkness spreading across the different kingdoms, and the prologue about the ancient tale of the Fallen God hooked me in from the start.
However, this is where my criticism begins. Unfortunately, I believe the plot itself was better than the execution of it. Here’s why:
#1: The pacing was off. I felt like some scenes dragged. on. I noticed this especially in fighting scenes. For instance, in chapter 10 there is a fight scene with the monsters in the poisoned forest. In my opinion, that fight went on for wayyyy too long. I actually felt the need to skip pages just to see how the fight turned out because there were so many things happening at once, it felt extremely overwhelming. If I had to guess, the intention behind making such a long fight was to vividly depict the utter chaos that is fighting something you can’t see, but it was legitimately overwhelming. I think long fight scenes work better in movies than in books, because if you’re anything like me, you tend to start glossing over words just because the anticipation is building and you’re getting impatient.
#2: The foreshadowing in this book gave everything away. One of the #1 things that most writers are constantly reminded of is that you’re supposed to show and not tell. Unfortunately, this book most definitely tells and doesn’t show. It didn’t feel exciting anymore around half way through the book because you could always tell what was going to happen next, which ruined the anticipation/suspense that you should feel while reading dystopian fiction.
Speaking of lack of anticipation/suspense/surprise…
#3: The main antagonist Rakmar was WAY too unstoppable. On page 251, I wrote this update on GR: “I like this book, but I am so incredibly frustrated by this antagonist’s unstoppableness. At first it was shocking and sad, but after so many times it becomes annoying. Nevertheless, I still have 133 pages left, so let’s see how this turns out.”
This is my main point of frustration with this book. When Rakmar makes his first appearance, he is described as a shadow, man-like figure surrounded by dark winds. My first thought was “wow, this is a really cool antagonist! I can’t wait to see what havoc he wreaks on Arrolyn.” After his first offense, I was again like “oh my god! He’s too strong!” but I was invested in hope that he’d at least find someone that could give him a fair fight. By page 251, he had effortlessly conqueredtwo more people, and I was now beginning to feel like: “wow…I totally didn’t see that coming…shocked…how sad…”
If anything, it just feels disappointing. Though to be fair, after reading the entire book I understand why he was so unstoppable for as long as he was (has to do with how the book ends,) but I wish there was more standing in his way along the way. In future books of this to-be series, I really hope that the new antagonists have more obstacles to make the plot more interesting.
There are my three biggest pros and cons of The Shattered Moon. Again, just because I didn’t love this book doesn’t mean you won’t, and it doesn’t mean it’s a bad book! Actually, because I know this will be a series, and because I really loved the fantastical aspects and character relationships of this book, this is a world that I would want to return to once the next book is released. But for now, I leave you with my thoughts on the first book of the Divine Legacy series. Thanks for reading!