Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
This book is a little different than anything I’ve read before, and though it took me a while to warm up to it – the beginning was certainly slow – I can only say that I was really pleased by the time I got to the end. Once I became invested in it, I couldn’t wait for the next plot twist and revelation. It is definitely not predictable!
The setting is the village of Blashy Cove, the only settlement on the island of Merryapple, off the Cornish coast, in 1780. Blashy Cove is nothing like the islands and villages around it, including its tolerance for same sex relationships, which are viewed as absolutely nothing out of the ordinary. There is no cathedral, church, or even chapel from the Christianization of the British Isles, and even the old religions are no longer followed; the “people believed in themselves”. Like all small villages, everyone knows everyone else’s business, but for the most part it is a friendly place to live. Its economy is primarily related to fishing, but it has the usual village accoutrements of shops, bakeries, smithies, and its most iconic building is the Moth and Moon tavern. The Moth and Moon is a vaguely steampunk, somewhat ramshackle building that was built hundreds of years ago when the village was founded, and continuously added on to until it became a huge five-story behemoth full of forgotten rooms and corners, that dominates the village. It is also the heart and soul of Blashy Cove.
Robin Shipp is a middle aged fisherman whose ancestors have been sailors for at least 4 generations. He’s an enormous man, a little slow, but kind-hearted. He watches out for everyone in the village, but the other villagers have always viewed him with a little suspicion, because his father disappeared under mysterious circumstances, and was possibly even a murderer. Robin tries not to let their distrust get to him, and goes about his business unselfishly.
When a hurricane approaches the island, with only a half day’s warning as storm clouds appear on the horizon, Robin is the first one to notice, and is the first man to start gathering the villagers into the Moth and Moon, which is far and away the safest place to shelter. Because it is just his way, he puts everyone’s safety before his own as he brings them into the tavern. Most of the villagers arrive just before the storm hits, hunker down inside the Moth and Moon, and as they anxiously wait for the storm to pass, it becomes apparent that there are many secrets in the village, and the pressure of the storm and fear of death cause people to rethink a lot of what they have assumed is truth.
To this point, there is really nothing in the way of romance at all going on. We know that Robin had been in a relationship with the toymaker, Duncan Hunger, and that it ended badly, but no details were given. Edwin Farriner is the baker, and it also became apparent that he is holding a torch for Robin, who is oblivious. Things come to a head when the three men ride out the last half of the storm in the lighthouse, and are forced to confront truths about themselves and each other.
There is a lot of description, and a lot of world building that in the beginning truly seemed to be a little random, and a little too much. It is what made the beginning of the book so slow for me. The action basically mirrors the storm itself, with tension developing in the Moth and Moon as well as in the lighthouse as the storm wreaked havoc in the village, although the majority of the revelations about the secrets of the town and its people comes in the aftermath of the hurricane. It wasn’t until this point that I felt a real emotional connection to the characters, but the way they reacted to the dramatic revelations of past events was very compelling. If the rest of the book had been as interesting, I would certainly have rated it higher, but the slow start meant that if I was not reading it for review, I might well have DNF’ed it. I’m glad I stuck it out though, the ending is pure sweetness.
Cover art by Nathasha Snow is just a little mysterious, which fits with the atmosphere of the book.
NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo
book, 172 pages
Published March 19th 2018 by Ninestar Press
Original TitleThe Moth and Moon