Friday, July 10, 2020

Thea Harrison - Moonshadow

Recovering from a shooting, LAPD witch consultant Sophie Ross leaves her job and travels to the U.K. to search for answers about her childhood. When she encounters a Daoine Sidhe knight of the Dark Court, she becomes entangled in an ancient hatred between two arcane forces. 
Barred from his homeland along with his surviving brother knights, Nikolas Sevigny is embroiled in a conflict that threatens everything he holds dear. Only by uniting his people’s resources can they hope to prevail against Isabeau, the deadly Queen of the Light Court. He will do anything and use anyone to return home to Lyonesse.
When Nikolas encounters Sophie, he sees a tool to be used. The insouciant witch might be the key to unlocking every passageway that has been barred to the knights of the Dark Court, even as a fascination for her takes root in what’s left of his soul.
Sophie has no intention of becoming anyone’s pawn, yet the fierce Nikolas is so compelling, she can’t deny the temptation that endangers her guarded heart.
As magic threatens Lyonesse, Queen Isabeau unleashes her merciless Hounds, and Nikolas and Sophie become embroiled in a race for survival. Meanwhile, the passion that ignites between them burns too hot to be denied and quickly turns into obsession. 

Comment: This book has been in the pile pretty much since its release, since I got it a few months after that. It just got lost among all the others but this time I decided to finally start it.

In this spin-off from the Elder Races series, which made the author known among readers, we have a different set of characters and situations but set in the same world. This means previous known characters might be mentioned or have small appearances.
The book is focused on Sophie, a witch consultant in America who is approached by a woman claiming her family is responsible for Sophie's rescue as a young child and now this woman offers the deal of a lifetime to Sophie in the UK, where Sophie's origins are likely to be as well.
However, more than look for her roots, Sophie sees herself in the middle of someone else's affairs, namely Nikolas Sevigny, a member of the Dark Court in Lyonnais. Nikolas and a few of his comrades have been away from their land for too long, since time passes differently there and they have no way to go back, since they are still being chased after by members of the Light Court.
Can the fate of Sophie and Nikolas be the same somehow, will they be able to work together despite their animosity upon meeting one another to reach the same goal?

Despite the apparent confusion in my description of what this book could be about, I can say that while reading, everything makes perfect sense. This is set in the same world of the other series so for fans, the story makes a little bit more sense from the start, but for new readers the structure is such that it's possible to follow things easily. Still, I'd say it is easier if the reader has read some other book from the Elder Races series as some details make more sense that way.

So, basically, Sophie is a witch but she is not invincible and, in fact, is recovering yet from a shooting which puts her in a very uncomfortable position. She feels tired and uneasy and I think it was easy for me to feel empathy and a connection with her.
The set up for her to go to the UK was believable if not a little too convenient and a good reason to explain why a certain link between her and the woman who approached her (dr Kathryn Shaw) needs to exist, since it will certainly matter in the future books.

Sophie is determined, she doesn't admit much vulnerability in herself although we can obviously see it in her through her actions and behavior. Some readers have not liked her because she comes across as too fixed in her goals, as too set on her ways and the softer side of her isn't always visible while interacting with the hero. Their relationship isn't romantic, on a whole.
I can see why this might be said but I think the main characters' connection was good enough. I could see in the author's intention and and choices for this novel, the romance was not the main issue here, although Sophie and Nikolas develop an affection in the midst of their antagonism. It was fun to see them interact and getting closer that way.

Nevertheless, there is a slight tone here that makes us focus a bit too much on the task they have. There's a mission to accomplish and I did like how easy it was for me to immerse myself on their worries and plans (something that I failed to do in other of the author's books) without, however, losing track of where they wore, romantically.
I think Nikolas wasn't as easy to read simply because he keeps that mysterious side that can sound really appealing when one thinks of "romantic hero" but it's not as fun as when we want to see all the details of his evolution. 

I admit the biggest flaw I saw in this book was how much of the page count was spent on the meeting of the main characters, their plans and actions and not on the dealing with the after. I wanted more goals in common after they managed to complete their mission and less time speculating and planning. There are two more books and I'm certain we will see some result of what happened here too, but I suspect it might be minimal and not really a full set on Lyonnais and how the characters see themselves there.

Anyway, this book was very entertaining, I did like how Sophie and Nikolas had their own way of being together and talked to each other, I liked some of the secondary characters, I liked they were meticulous and that I could learn things about them and about their surroundings in little clues here and there.
On the less appealing side for me was the fact the plot feels a lot like a task to be done, no matter how it's done, the romance is special but not as sweet as it could be and there are just too many practical/analytical aspects regarding their lives that didn't give me that warm feeling of seeing a HEA come to life. But I'll read the next books, so that counts too, for enthusiasm.
Grade: 7/10

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