Review: “Vicious Moon,” Lee Roland

Pros: Interesting world and characters; stands very well on its own
Cons: The book kept me at arm’s length and felt a bit jumbled
Rating: 3 out of 5

Review book courtesy of Penguin Group

 

Nyx is an earth witch and a former soldier. She never wanted to put all the work in to master her witchcraft, so it’s unreliable and low-powered. Now she’s being called back to the home she’s avoided for years in order to locate her missing sister. Her hunt sends her to a messed-up town hiding secrets: a portal that occasionally disgorges monsters, and a demon trapped within a magical barrier. Either of the above might be responsible for Marisol’s disappearance, but Nyx has a feeling her sister is still alive–and running out of time. Luckily for her, some of the mercenaries guarding the portal and its surrounds are old friends of hers. Unluckily, they’re under the control of Etienne. Nyx is drawn to the mysterious soldier, but she cannot trust him.

 

Lee Roland’s Vicious Moon: A Novel of the Earth Witches is third in a series (after Viper Moon and Vengeance Moon), but it stands remarkably well on its own.

I enjoyed the story. Nyx is an interesting character, although when she’s in the company of her old soldier buddies she develops a Mary Sue vibe (they’re all besotted with her and constantly ruminating on her awesomeness). Her familiar, a drooling dog named Herschel, is entertaining but a bit too much of a mystery. It leaves his bits of help and his disappearances feeling arbitrary or contrived. If there’d been more of a hint as to his provenance or motives that could have been avoided.

While I enjoyed the plot and characters, I always felt at arm’s length from them. I never got emotionally invested. Events seemed a little scattershot, and Etienne never clicked into place for me. Only a few of the side characters seemed to have any real depth or care put into them–I found more interest in a character who only showed up via phone call than I did in a whole handful of secondary characters who were physically present.

I’m divided on whether I’d be interested in reading more books in this series. I think I’d read them if they came across my desk, but I wouldn’t seek them out.

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