Sunday, 24 February 2013

Book Review: Moonblood by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

In a desperate bid to earn back the trust of his kingdom, Prince Lionheart banishes his only friend, Rose Red, to certain death. Now, his last hope for regaining his honor is to descend into the treacherous Wilderlands and find her.
But many perils stand in Lionheart's path. A mysterious Hunter is on his trail, a dangerous unicorn prowls the darker shadows, and Rose Red herself has been drawn into the hidden realm of Arpiar where the goblin king holds her captive for foul purposes of his own.With the help of a blind cat, an ugly knight, and the gentle Lady of the Haven, Lionheart can only hope he will find Rose Red before the Night of Moonblood . . . when the sleeping dragons will awake . . . 
-image and summary from

Moonblood is the third book in the series Tales of Goldstone Wood by Anne Elisabeth Stengl. It flows directly from the ending of Veiled Rose, so I highly suggest you read that one first. While I enjoyed Veiled Rose, I absolutely adored Moonblood. And here's why:

1.) The characters: Having read Heartless and Veiled Rose, I already had the background knowledge necessary to truly appreciate how Stengl wove the character interaction. Everyone stayed consistent while still growing. Some characters even backpedaled, showing sides to themselves that I wasn't sure existed. And Lionheart, despite his position as main protagonist, does not get any easy breaks, even at the end.

2.) The setting: If there is one fantasy world I will never tire of learning about, it is Stengl's Goldstone Wood. Like Tolkien, she gives just enough information about the world to entice us without revealing all her secrets. Secondary characters become real and vibrant entities, ones that make you wonder about their own histories. I especially loved the Tiger, and would love to see more stories about his exploits one day.

3.) The romance: It is very difficult to find romance that is pure but still has the power to break your heart. Without spoiling the book, I will simply say that sometimes fewer words says it all--and the ending, though happy, is not how bards would tell it.

4.) The writing: Lyrical--breezy at times, sombre at others. The song of Hymlume and the scene interwoven throughout made me cry. The sheer beauty of it--the grief and the longing for times of innocence and true love--I honestly had to blink very rapidly to keep from weeping like a child.

5.) The themes: I've heard it said that love is earned, and I think that's stupid, for reasons I will not get into. In the same way, redemption cannot be earned, because we can never atone for our sins the way we should. This book handles this idea very beautifully. I struggled along with Lionheart to accept this, and watching his struggle endeared me to his character for the first time in this series. I hated him in Heartless, was okay with him in Veiled Rose, and loved him in Moonblood. I hope this isn't the end of his story!

6.) Eanrin and Imraldera: I can't resist. They are two of my favourite fictional characters ever. Their moments in this book are few, but completely stole the show for me. Like I said before, Stengl says a lot in few words, and I was melting like chocolate. Though Eanrin has to stop being such a cat! (And if you don't understand a word of this, it means you have to hurry up and read this series to find out!)

I could go on and on about this book, but I have a midterm to study for and Dragonwitch to start pondering. Do yourself a favour and lose yourself in the series Tales of Goldstone Wood!

Five Stars!