Fifteen-year-old Ashley has a complicated life. There’s no doubt her overachieving parents love her, but they are wrapped up in their own worlds for so much of the time it leaves her feeling like she’s alone.
Like a lot of teenagers, Ashley dreams of other worlds, but unlike a lot of teenagers her world is about to collapse as rifts to an ancient Fae Kingdom begin to open all around her. With the arrival of of a supernatural hit-squad intent on killing her, and an unexpected inheritance, Ashley’s London is about to become a magical and mysterious warzone where the prize is Ashley herself.
Ashley has to find out the secrets of her own life before she is killed. Balancing ancient prophecies, schoolwork and the love of her life is difficult to say the least! Take part of the wonderful world of Moonlands.
This is a solid little bit of young adult fantasy. It’s a fairly basic tale of a girl who thinks she’s nothing special – not smart, not pretty and whatnot, finding out that of course, she is. And this is set in a world that takes familiar fantasy elements – faeries, werewolves and what have you – and at least does a good job with making the Moonlands feel especially lush. Ashley herself is a pretty likable protagonist too, she feels like a teenager but she grows up when she has to, even if she’s aided by some convenient magic towards the end. While it’s nothing unique, it does at least have a nice little twist on why the villain is villainous, which is nice. I know this sounds rather generic – and to be honest, the book is – but this is one of those cases where that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
There are some minor quibbles to be had though. First the author insists that we know the book is set in 2012. There’s a reference to Twitter and tweeting and a throwaway line about Ashley listening to music that speaks to “being a teenager in 2012.” I’m not sure why he did this: while having it be known that London is in fact a modern one is mildly important (if nothing else to contrast it against the world of the Moonlands), there’s no need to go that specific. This book is solid fantasy with the tiniest hint of steampunk. Knowing it’s 2012 vs. 2002 does absolutely nothing for the story and ultimately those references just stick out like a sore thumb . The bigger quibble is that there is some definitely borrowing of ideas from Harry Potter. There’s a Knight Bus analogue. A bank that she visits to get her bequeath from a deceased aunt was clearly based on Grimmauld Place in the sense that it’s wedged between two buildings and non-magical people have no clue that it’s even there. It is a bit confusing as to how they exist given that it’s made quite clear that London has next to no magic, but there you go. Finally, there’s a creature that saps you of happiness and a will to live before killing you. Hello, Dementors. These aren’t book-breakers, but it is disappointing that there is such blatant copying going on.
Finally, the end of the book implies that there will be a sequel. I don’t see anything on Goodreads to indicate that said book is about to come into existence anytime soon, but that this book is getting a re-release does make one suspect that it’ll come along at some point down the road.
This book shatters no molds, and does feel a bit trope-y (let’s just say you’ll know that one enemy will flip to the other side well in advance of when he does) but it’s enjoyable and if you like the idea, you may enjoy it.
Verdict: Borrow it.
Available: April 17th