*Novel provided by the author for an honest review.
For more information please visit Laurie Bowler's website.
Marinette (Nessy) is half vampire and half human flees her maker Hervidor, the strongest of their kind and the ruler of the underworld of vampires. As Nessy flees to be able to live her life as she chooses, her vengeance for the coven Hervidor created, The Tellis coven rises to the surface as she ventures into unknown parts of life that she has never seen or experienced.
Hervidor has kept Nessy locked away for centuries, his taunting and those tauntings of his coven have made Nessy stronger and one day capable of fleeing his grasp.
As she runs through the unknown woods with her thirst on high alert she meets Charles and his coven, their ways and teachings of the new world that Nessy hasn’t seen before are shocking and exciting to Nessy who quickly learns to adjust and adapt so she can easily walk among humans during both day and night. Nessy quickly falls in love with Charles and they seal the bond that will capture and seal them together for eternity, their love being sealed and both of them finding their mate to walk the earth for as long as either one of them shall survive the passage of time and the changes it brings.
With the threat of Hervidor constantly at their heels and Nessy trying to run and making that final decision to stand and face him in the fight that will decide her fate, the Gulon and their own pack of cats become involved Heracio (Hera) is Nessy’s biological cousin and decides to impart to Nessy the many family traits she wasn’t aware off as a human, her own self discovery becomes apparent as she too transforms into the Gulon creature. As the biggest and strongest of the Gulon and long ago destined to become their leader, Nessy hands over the reins of the leadership back to Hera, claiming the ownership is his by mutual right, mutual consent and adoration of his pack.
As Nessy tries to come to terms with the changes happening to her and around her, she continues to slide on the path of love, together Charles, his coven and Nessy make the final stand against Hervidor and the detested Tellis coven to banish them from the earth but will they succeed in banishing Hervidor and his coven?
Moon Rising by Laurie Bowler is one of those novels that has such hidden potential that you really end up liking it despite a lack of overall polish. Mind you, I am not referring to the grammatical issues but more about the depth and development of the novel itself. The underlying story is full of hidden potential that I felt needed to be a bit better explored, but the premise itself is an interesting twist on vampire romance and felt more akin to a long fairy tale then a more traditional novel.
Truly, there are many things within the novel that I feel that I must critique, but not among them is the tempo of the writing. There is a sort of lyrical fluidity that lulls the reader in, much like the writings of fairy tales as I mentioned previously. This novel for some reason had an odd tendency to put me in mind of 'Peter and the Wolf' at times, with the images of a girl going into the dark woods only instead of finding a man-eating wolf, Nessy is met with a compelling vampire who is to become her true love. I even confess that at times I found myself humming the theme from that particular tale during the more adventurous parts of the novel. But, the downside of this comparison being that like 'Peter and the Wolf' this tale has a tendency to be a bit flat and one dimensional.
This has a lot to do with the characterization within the novel. Nessy, the narrator of the story, is never truly fleshed out. While we hear her history and her thoughts, we never really get to feel her emotions. There is a detachment there that the reader can't overcome. Several times there are moments when Nessy could be able to fully connect with the audience, for instance when she is recalling being turned into a vampire. The scene is set in a very minimalistic fashion: she and her betrothed Hervidor are walking in a garden, they enter a secluded portion and he bites her. Very little is revealed about the experience, the emotions or the environment where it occurs. Another example is when she was locked in her rooms and tormented by Scarlet or visited by Hera. Building those memories and moments would have greatly fleshed out Nessy's character and made her far more inviting and accessible. The fact that this novel is told in the first person is another issue to overcome as Nessy never fully explores the characters around her. She never gives much in the way of thoughts or opinions about anyone past the fact that she either likes them or she doesn't. There is no follow up as to why she feels a certain way about someone. For instance, her attraction to Charles. She likes him and feels a connection to him, but she never really comes out and explains or expounds upon it, once again missing out on an emotional connection with the reader. However, despite these flaws with her character and the way she perceives those around her, I still felt compelled towards her. She has an innocent naivete and tenderness that is endearing. The fact that she rebels against completely becoming the monster that she is now meant to be reveals the strength within her character and makes you want to root for her. The same goes with the secondary characters. Despite the dimensionality, you still see the inner good and the warmth that the author tries to have them radiate.
The unique world Bowler created is another source of potential that I felt could have used a bit more fleshing out. For example, the Gulons are a very interesting shifter race that are essentially the protectors of humans from the vampire clans. I would have liked to see the Gulon history explored a bit more as well as how it was that Hervidor could have fooled Nessy's Gulon father. Truly the addition of the histories of both the vampire and Gulon races would certainly help in building the world further. Or just the history as pertaining to Nessy on a more in depth scale would have sufficed. What I think was wonderful here was the sort of timeless quality within the world that Bowler was able to capture. A world were these factions still remain undetected by humans gives a since of an era long past. Paired with Nessy's rigid proper dialogue, you can even come to believe it is a Victorian age. However, the fact that the world is as it is today gives it a bit of that fairy tale edge that I was speaking about earlier. There's a whimsical quality involved while Nessy is brought up to speed on the modern world and all of the inventions and styles that have passed her by.
Despite any of these lacking attributes, however, this story still managed to hit a soft spot. Bowler's sense of storytelling is wonderfully crafted to keep you wanting to know what happens to these characters throughout the story. Is true love enough to conquer all? Will Nessy ever escape Hervidor? These questions follow the reader and draw them into the story as all good tales should.
Overall, this is an enchanting novel that has the potential to be so much more. Definitely not a tale for readers who crave depth or an epic journey, but it still holds an appeal to those readers who enjoy good storytelling with a nice romance that is appropriate to all ages.
My Rating: 3 out of 5