Hello, friends! It’s my stop on the TBR & Beyond Tours for Blood and Moonlight by Erin Beaty and I’m excited to share my review and favourite quotes with you today!
Thanks to Farrar, Straus and Giroux for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!
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Goodreads: Blood and Moonlight
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, Giroux (BYR)
Publication Date: 28 June 2022
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy Thriller
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…
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Note: The quotes below are taken from an advanced/unfinished copy and are subject to change in the final version.
TL;DR: Wow, I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this as much as I did but I loved the combination of fantasy and murder mystery. I enjoyed the world-building and found the magick system fascinating, I thought the characters were complex and well-fleshed out, and the mystery of the serial killer had me on my toes and constantly bouncing theories back and forth on who could possibly have done it. Although there were moments when the pacing slowed down towards the end of the middle of the story, I found myself completely hooked and I ended up finishing this in pretty much one long sitting. Also, this cover? One of my faves—it’s absolutely stunning! 😍
CW/TW: graphic descriptions of brutal murders and deaths (blood, gore), mental illness (specifically schizophrenia), sexual assault (implied), incest (implied)
Before diving into my review, let’s share some cover appreciation for the stunner that is this cover. Isn’t it absolutely stunning in every way?! I love the building details in the background because it’s such a vital part of the story and the details of the main character in the front with the moon vines and flowers woven through the hair and the bit of blood fits the vibe perfectly! What a beaut! 😍
“We all live in cages, Catrin. Only those of us who are lucky get to choose which one.”
This is my first book by Beaty although I’ve had her trilogy on my TBR for a while now. The story was well-written and pretty well-paced which made it so easy for me to continuously read without wanting to take a break from the book at any point. I was definitely expecting stronger fantasy elements but although this is set in what’s essentially a made-up world, it felt more like a historical/medieval thriller with few fantastical elements including magic. I really didn’t mind it though because I do enjoy historical fiction and parts of the story actually reminded me of Ken Follett’s “Pillars of the Earth” because of how big a role the construction of the Sanctum played in the story—which is a book I enjoyed so I really liked the inclusion of it! Even though we only learned more about the Selenae and moon magick in the latter half of the book, I loved learning about the origins of the community and the magick that ran through their veins, and I wished that it and they had played a bigger role in the story. I honestly wouldn’t be mad if Beaty decides to write spin-off stories set in this world and about the moon magick because I would definitely be eager to read it! The murder mystery/psychological thriller aspect had me on my toes the whole way through. Honestly, it seemed pretty obvious who the killer was at the start but as we learn more about the core group of characters, the many red-herrings Beaty sprinkled throughout the story had me constantly bouncing back and forth between theories. I’m pretty sure that at one point I suspected everyone except our two MCs and I couldn’t make up my mind about whodunit until the very end. At least I know I got the motive right!
“People who think girls my age are petty should consider how stubborn and brooding two adult men can be when they’re fighting over a project they both consider their own.”
The story is told through Catrin’s POV but there was a core group of characters who I really enjoyed reading about. I thought all the characters were complex and well-fleshed out and although one or two were a little less multi-dimensional in comparison to say Catrin and Simon, all of them had interesting facets to their personalities that made them stand out. I wanted to learn more about them and I loved when more layers were peeled back. Catrin was such an easy character to root for. She’s a bit stubborn but her tenacity to uncover the truth and her ability to adapt to rapidly changing situations were admirable. Simon as the “lead detective” started as a bit of a mystery himself but as we learned more about his past and where he came from, my heart hurt for how much trauma he carried with him. Then there’s Juliane, the Magister, Remi, and Oudin—all of whom play influential roles in the mystery and some who I liked more than others for a large part of the story but I never once didn’t want to learn more about them. There is also a bit of a romance that develops and I thought it was a sweet ‘first love’ moment but thankfully it doesn’t overshadow the mystery and magick!
“People will shun an insane person more than they would someone with plague, which is ironic. Madness isn’t catching like a cough.”
What I really appreciated and didn’t expect was the mental illness representation, specifically schizophrenia, through Juliane, her family history, and Simon & Mesanus (location). Reading Beaty’s author note mentioning how important this representation is and about how Mesanus is from is based on a real-life location was really interesting and made the rep in the book even more meaningful. I think the author did a great job of addressing the rep in a sensitive way and shed light on the impact the stigma of mental illness can have on those who experience it, and how much of a difference it makes when they receive proper care.
“A gift misused is a curse. Never forget that.”
Overall, this was very different to what I initially expected when I picked it up but I’m glad to say that I was pleasantly surprised by it. Once the story picks up around the 25% mark the pace really flies and the next thing you know, the story is over. I can’t wait to read more by this author in the future!
Erin Beaty was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana, which means she can’t drive a tractor but won’t eat veggies that come from a can. She graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2000 with a BS in Aerospace Engineering (Astronautics) and German, then served in the fleet as a weapons officer on a combat destroyer and later as an instructor the Center for Naval Leadership. After a few years as a stay-at-home mother and navy wife with a casual family blog, Erin upped her game and started writing her first novel in the spring of 2014. She is now the author of the Traitor’s Circle Trilogy published by Imprint, Macmillan and in several foreign languages. She and her husband have five children, two cats, and a vegetable garden and live wherever the navy tells them to go.
Erin has taught classes at The Muse Writers Center in Norfolk and has also served on the advisory board of Hampton Roads Writers.
Have you read Blood and Moonlight or is it on your TBR?