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Book: “Blood and Moonlight” by Erin Beaty
Publishing Info: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, June 2022
Where Did I Get this Book: Edelweiss+
Book Description: Rising above the city of Collis is the holy Sanctum. And watching over its spires is Catrin, an orphan girl with unique skills—for she alone can spot the building’s flaws in construction before they turn deadly.
But when Catrin witnesses a murderer escaping the scene of his crime, she’s pulled into the web of a dangerous man who will definitely strike again. Assigned to capture the culprit is the mysterious, brilliant, and enigmatic Simon, whose insights into the mind of a killer are frighteningly accurate.
As the grisly crimes continue, Catrin finds herself caught between murderer and detective while hiding her own secret—a supernatural sight granted by the moon, destined to make her an outcast, and the only thing that might save her and those she loves from becoming the next victims…
Review: This was definitely a cover lust request for me. I mean, that’s a lovely cover and will easily drive people to pick it up off the shelves. Reading the description, the story also sounded like an intriguing mix of YA fantasy and a murder mystery. All of the right elements were there but, alas, this book ultimately wasn’t for me. By that I mean, my dislike of it could really have come down to the fact that I wasn’t the target audience for this book. Some YA can read up to adult readers, but others are definitely written for a specific age group. So reviewers like me have to be careful when evaluating outside of the target audience. All that to say, take my rating and review with a grain of salt.
Growing up an orphan, Catrin has struggled to understand her place in the world or to find a family to replace the one lost to her. She does have a gift, however, the ability to see flaws in construction before they become dangerous. Through this gift, she sees a path forward for herself. But that straight track is interrupted when she witnesses a criminal fleeing the scene of a grisly murder. Now, alongside the mysterious Simon, a detective, Catrin finds herself caught up in a spree of crime, trying to catch a killer before he surely strikes again.
So, like I said at the start, this book wasn’t for me. I honestly struggled to read the entire thing and ended up skimming a decent portion of the last half. But before getting into the problems I had, I want to address the good things. I thought the magic system was interesting, with the moon playing a role in how people’s abilities worked. After being exposed to direct moonlight, for example, certain characters abilities were enhanced. This was an interesting concept and something I hadn’t run across before (other than the obvious werewolves, of course!).
Given the strength of the fantasy elements, I kind of wish the author had just stopped there (though that would have resulted in a totally different book, I guess). The mystery itself I felt was incredibly predictable. The moment the villain makes their way on to the page, it was clear they were behind it all. This made it all the more frustrating to see Catrin and the supposedly clever detective, Simon, struggle to put together the very, very obvious pieces of the puzzle. But, here, I may have been reading this mystery through the lens of an adult mystery reader. YA audiences may be totally satisfied with this aspect of the story.
I also struggled with the writing and characterization. The writing was very simplistic, and I struggled to fully immerse myself in the story. And Catrin was everything you’ve ever read a million times from YA fantasy protagonists. If anything, she was even a bit higher on the cringe level. I also never bought the romance; Simon seemed like he could do better, honestly. And I really don’t care for this type of angsty romance where the primary emotion it pulls from me is frustrating, wanting to just bang these two’s heads together (and not in a cute, kissing way.)
As I said, I struggled to even finish this book. After I realized that I had already solved the mystery and all that was left was the developing relationship between Simon and Catrin, I knew this wasn’t going to be for me. However, the simpler style of writing, this type of protagonist, and even the mystery itself may be completely satisfying for the target audience. It just wasn’t for me.
Rating 6: A miss all around with an unlikeable heroine and a mystery that revealed itself far too early in the story.
“Blood and Moonlight” can be found on this Goodreads list: YA Releases June 2022