I promised my mother I would never come to Bato-Ko…and yet here I am.
Narra Jal is one of the cursed, cast aside her whole life, considered unlucky. But with her mother’s life on the line, she will return to the city where she was born to face the trials: a grueling, bloodthirsty series of challenges designed to weed out the weak, the greedy, and the foolish. Trials to select the next ruler of Tigang.
Narra has nothing. No weapons. No training. No magic. No real chance of leaving with her life. Just her fierce grit and a refusal to accept the destiny she’s been handed. Even the intense, dark-eyed Guardian she feels a strangely electric connection with cannot help her. Narra is on her own. But she’ll show everyone what the unlucky can do.
Let the bloodbath begin.
-Excerpt taken from Goodreads.
Check Goodreads to see the book’s ratings.
(3 / 5) Narra has been considered cursed her entire life. When her mother’s life is on the line, she puts aside the danger and enters a competition for the next ruler of Tigang, purely to save her mother.
The competition is the reason I picked up this book. It felt like it would have a Hunger Games feel with teens competing for a leadership position. However, this was not the case. The book focused mostly on Narra’s past lives. Reincarnation and past lives is not a subject I come across often and I can’t say that it interests me. If past lives are going to have a large part of the story, I need that previous story and not just pieces of it.
The romance felt forced (past lives coming in again) and I never quite understood their relationship. I would have enjoyed more details into the politics and how that played into the competition. I assumed that was what I was getting; a book about politics, a competition revolving around these politics and a romance on the side. However, I found myself confused multiple times with what I’ll call “scene holes.” These are not necessarily plot holes, but scenes that jumped from one end of the room to the other without explanation, or people were present then all of a sudden not present in multiple scenes.
While the story has potential, the need for better flow and detailed explanations left me wanting more. “Big” moments needed more time and fanfare, and less side characters would have held my attention more.
General content summary:
From Entangled Teen Publishing=THE MOONLIGHT BLADE IS AN ATMOSPHERIC, EDGE-OF-YOUR-SEAT FANTASY ROMANCE FULL OF THRILLING ADVENTURE AND UNFORGETTABLE MOMENTS. HOWEVER, THE STORY INCLUDES ELEMENTS THAT MIGHT NOT BE SUITABLE FOR ALL READERS. VIOLENCE, PARENTAL DEATH, BULLYING, AND MURDER ARE INCLUDED IN THE NOVEL. READERS WHO MAY BE SENSITIVE TO THESE ELEMENTS, PLEASE TAKE NOTE.
Little to no language, a child is caned for certain birth marks on her skin (previous), killing with magic (few details), using a spell/magic to make one unconscious, blood taken unwillingly, PTSD and care for it, blood is used in ceremony, chaos/trampling of people (blood, bones crunching), bullying (dead animal used as a threat, words), a tongue has been cut out, parental death (previous), possible poisoning death (no details), 2 die in a challenge (no details), signs of physical abuse (bruises), missing people (multiple), reincarnation, as punishment a finger is broken, a person with claustrophobia is placed in a small box as punishment, 2 are very sick and poisoned, f/f marriage, m/f kisses, stabbing death (no details), physical violence (abduction, kicks, fists, bruises, multiple, knives, stabbing, rocks, fire), whipping (some details), slicing neck (suicide, blood), beheading (head rolling), blood is used for spells (multiple), large creature invading town and killing many, corpse (many, some details), stabbing death (some details).
Thank you to Entangled Publishing and NetGalley for the gifted copy!
The book releases March 21, 2023.
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