Jolly Fish Press, June 2013
Disclosure: This review is based on an advance copy provided by the publisher.
Willa and Simon, both undiscovered witches, have always felt isolated by their magical abilities, until the day they meet, when that same magic knits them instantly together. But magical love comes with magical risks. Willa’s clairvoyance leads them to other witches like themselves, who are under attack by a group of Dark witches and in desperate need of their help.
The destined-to-be quality of Willa and Simon’s relationship, and their relationship with the other witches, for that matter, is well handled, but by its nature, it doesn’t allow for too much character drama. After the initial upheaval from ordinary life, the conflict is mostly limited to the tidy good vs. evil struggle, without grey areas or internal complications.
It’s a pretty awesome pure good vs. evil struggle, bloody, action-packed, and set in a vivid, colorful, memorable universe. Harman draws more on real Wicca than existing fictionalizations of witchcraft for details, creating a brand new breed of fantastical being. The narrative moves quickly between the living witches’ battles and the flashbacks to the town’s rich history of warring magical families, which begs to be explored further in subsequent books. Our good guys are all good and all friends, but they’re not pushovers. They’ll put up just as brutal and imaginative a fight to protect the world as the bad guys will to dominate it, and they don’t need to fade to black to do it.
Picture the tree branches from The Evil Dead doing pretty much what they do, but on the side of good, and without leaving survivors.
Yeah, that happens.
As low tension as the heroes’ relationships are, when there’s more than enough trouble to go around on the outside, there’s also something refreshing about Willa and Simon’s absolute, unquestioning faith in each other. They don’t waste time bickering, angsting, and nobly but impractically protecting each other. They work together, the way fictional couples always make us wish they would but so very rarely do.
And of course, how could a book that can make pure, cooperating good guys compelling fail to make the pure bad guys even better? Archard, Luminary of the Dark witches, is bad through and through, but the descriptions of the way his magic feeds and amplifies his natural rage allow him to feel still frighteningly real.
Even with the clear potential its universe has for expansion and exploration, Blood Moon makes for a very satisfying self-contained read… at least until the epilogue. Without offering specific spoilers, I can say that, like the best kind of after-credits movie teaser, Blood Moon’s final punch made me check for a sequel release date (summer 2014).
Yes, I’m aware that this is an advance review, and Blood Moon itself won’t even be released until June 22nd, 2013. Mark your calendars, people.