Moonblood by Anne Elisabeth Stengl had the similar exhaustive detail that Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings series had with the winsome flow of an old-fashioned fairy tale. In this story, we read about Lionheart.
If you’ll remember from Stengl’s last novel in this series, Veiled Rose, Lionheart made some unwise choices and when he returned to his homeland in the Southlands in Moonblood, those bad decisions did not end or get better. Lionheart banishes his friend and insinuated love, Rose Red to the wood in-between (or the Goldstone Wood) where various invisible paths lace the wood. These paths cross different realms and kingdoms. One could take a wrong step and be on the wrong path, forever wandering. Lionheart learns that when he banished Rose Red into the Wood In-Between he caused her evil father to re-capture Rose and imprison her in the castle at Arpiar.
After being disinherited in his father’s kingdom, Lionheart sets out to find the realm of Arpiar to rescue Rose Red from her evil father, Vahe. Arpiar is an enchanted kingdom that no one can find unless someone within calls out their name. A feared unicorn under the control of Vahe guards the kingdom. The unicorn is one of the legendary children of Hymlume, fallen from grace.
Every so often the moon turns blood red as Hymlume weeps for her fallen children, and in another realm a dragon kingdom sleeps. Vahe intends to kill his daughter, Rose Red (or otherwise named, Varvare) on the night of the blood red moon to wake the dragons. Lionheart and the knights of Farthestshore come together to rescue Rose Red and free Arpiar from its enchantments. It is much more than a fairy tale. It’s a quest for truth as Lionheart battles his shame
Moonblood is a complicated story, a novel in a series of books that go beyond the surface, and explore why we do what we do and how some can be persuaded to turn from the right path. The story had a poignant ending. It’s not your typical love story and it’s not predictable. It leaves you aching when you turn the last page and discover that for some happily ever after is not a reality.
I gave this story four stars for at first, I was a little lost, wondering if I missed a novel in the series in-between and I felt like I had to catch up, but my struggles didn’t last long. Soon, I was happily flipping pages rooting for Lionheart and Rose Red.
*This story given by the publisher to review.