Rating for the Moonstone (Book One)

Melinda rated it 5 of 5 stars

First, thanks to the author, I won a signed copy from the give-away page here! Sorry it has taken me a little while to read it. This is a very good book! I really loved Finna's transition from basically a child to mature woman in this story. Oh, she starts already grown and with child, but she's still fairly naive about life. You see her maturing through out the book, though some of it is fairly rough for an expecting mom. Anyway, I think you would enjoy this book. I know I'm going to be getting the next book in this series.

Thanks again! 

This book strikes straight out of the heart of traditional fantasy, carefully combining many elements from ancient culture and modern fairy-tales. Broadwell's sources are a well-crafted mix of Celtic mythologies, Gaelic rooted language, life observations, and fantasy themes. We are set at first in a recently past Scotland, and follow a path from there into an Otherworld of mysticism, sorcery, and the swirling mists of our childhood dreams and adult mares.
The journey which the heroines take has an undeniably real feeling start to it. We travel from a present Highlands into landscapes from Scotland's past, lands of vast oak forests, wolves, and hard, rural, centuries old life. This is only a step away from the heather and boggy grasslands, from the modern stands of spruce and pine, from the tarmac torn wilderness; an easy step for fantasy readers. We are with an ordinary girl from a modern, broken family-life, torn away from the familiar mix of love and abuse common to so many backgrounds. This pregnant, already married and separated, heroine is drawn away. The pull provided by an, until the moment, long absent promiscuous "new age" mother. They travel into another world, of hallucinogenic spells, ancient beliefs, Celtic gods, magical herbs, fantastical apparitions, and immemorial struggles. It is an intoxicating idea that somewhere between the familiar and the deep cold ground that awaits all but the most innocent and pious, is another world. Such is the bedrock of fantasy. Broadwell's well-painted fantasy is far better than most, even more rational, (if that isn't a contradiction,) and worth every easy moment it takes to read.
The Moonstone is a beautifully crafted book, driving a compelling narrative that has many adventurous surprises, highs and lows. No theme in the book is totally original, or even unpredictable, but it is all magically put together, with enough description to enchant without overwhelming our vivid, private imaginations. The path in the moonstone is as compelling as that route to any golden-fleece, or promised chalice. It is a path worth taking, an exciting one.
The weave of this story has enchanted me into needing more, to see further into the flawed mystical world created by Broadwell's deep well of imagination. I will consume the rest of the trilogy without the slightest effort. The plot is often predictable, as is most adventure, but it's play of character, its mix of ideas and psychology isn't. Enjoy all, the craft in Broadwell's writing, the mix of myth and mythology, of ancient art and modern thought, the frustrating predictability of flawed character, and the sometimes unforeseen, all the elements that make this a great story.

I received this as a review copy from the author, who contacted me due to a mutual interest in Celtic mythology. 

Certainly the premise caught my attention as journeys into the Otherworld always intrigue me. I found it easy to read in a single sitting. It is the first in a planned trilogy and one of the difficulties with trilogies is that it is hard to judge from the opening act how the story and characters will develop. Still I found it a promising start. 

I did find that I had some issues with the lead characters, especially at the opening. Finna seemed very passive and naive for a 20-year old. She appeared much younger, more of a teen really though part of that may have been down to her living in a fairly isolated location in the mid-1980s. 

Catriona, her mother, managed to push a number of buttons for me. Mainly this was because I've certainly encountered women like her in my life determined to get their way or impose their ideas through their own will. I applauded when Finna began to find a stronger sense of self. 

Despite this initial active dislike of Catriona as she and Finna interacted more I could appreciate her point of view and why she had acted as she had at the opening. Broadwell also does not shy away from introducing uncomfortable real-life issues such as domestic violence and abuse into the back-story for her characters.

The ecology of Broadwell's Otherworld allowed two of my favourite species, long absent from Britain in the wild, to have a place again. 

The sneak peak of Book 2 included indicates that the second book will be more contemporary as it is set in 2009. I'd certainly be interested to see how Finna has fared in the interim

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