I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Penguin on 2014-02-20
Genres: Epic, Fantasy, Fiction, Romance, Sagas
Buy the Book • Goodreads
A prince with a quest. A commoner with mysterious powers. And dragons that demand to be freed—at any cost. Prince Corin has been chosen to free the dragons from their bondage to the Empire, but dragons aren’t big on directions. They have given him some of their power, but none of their knowledge. No one, not the dragons nor their riders, is even sure what keeps the dragons in the Empire’s control. Tam, sensible daughter of a well-respected doctor, had no idea before she arrived in the capital that she is a Seer, gifted with visions. When the two run into each other (quite literally) in the library, sparks fly and Corin impulsively asks Tam to dinner. But it’s not all happily ever after. Never mind that the prince isn’t allowed to marry a commoner: war is coming to Caithen. Torn between Corin’s quest to free the dragons and his duty to his country, the lovers must both figure out how to master their powers in order to save Caithen. With a little help from a village of secret wizards and a rogue dragonrider, they just might pull it off.
This whole adding variety and reading adult books thing is really working out quite well for me. Moth And Spark by Anne Leonard is sort of out of the norm for me, considering that I typically read young adult books that take a day or two to get through. I will state that prior to blogging I would have been all over Moth And Spark in a heartbeat, given that it is a fantasy book with romance and dense and long. Just how far outside my comfort zone did I step? Well, this book took me about two weeks to read. I read a little bit at a time, carefully absorbing Leonard’s words instead of rushing through. I read this book because the blurb had compared it to Juliet Marillier, who is one of my favorites, and because I wanted to try something new and shake up my reading. It worked, my reading has been shaken up in a good way.
Moth And Spark opens with a prologue where Prince Corin is being granted the power of the dragons, you see he has been chosen to free them from their enslavement by the Empire, and thus, in order to complete his task he has been gifted with dragon powers. Unfortunately, Corin comes back home and has forgotten all about his task and his memory is blocked so he basically needs a trigger in order to remember what he has been ordered to do. Meanwhile, a commoner named Tam is going to court for the first time. One day, Tam witnesses a brutal poisoning and sees a man dying before her eyes from blood poison. It’s rare and secret and not many people know about blood poison. Tam, however, is able to tell what it is because her dad does research with poisons. Due to this knowledge, Tam spends time in the library trying to understand more about a rival nation comprised of people called the Sarians when she ends up bumping into Prince Corin. Unable to be polite, Tam mouths off to him and surprisingly ends up catching his attention and his attraction. What ensues is a deep romance between Tam and Corin that will come up against class boundaries, war, and more. Oh and I forgot to mention, Tam is a Seer.
Corin is royalty. He is not in charge of Caithenor, his small nation quite yet. His dad, the King is still in charge. Yet, we get to read about Corin struggling to come to terms with his future power and with all the responsibility that rests upon his shoulders. Corin questions whether he will be able to accomplish his mission and make the right choices. He certainly has a lot of doubt and uncertainty. I quite liked reading about that, rather than about someone who was confident in all of their decisions ever. Leonard does a superb job making Corin’s struggles seem complex and real.
Tam, the commoner is interesting too. She’s very direct and blunt. She is level headed. The thing that sets her apart from the other courtiers is that she’s not out for status and wealth. She’s not simpering or feather-headed. Instead, Tam is very bookish and while yes, she’s at court to hopefully move up in society, she just seems deeper than the other girls. She’s also described as being incredibly beautiful, which, cool, I guess, ha ha. I think what I really liked about Tam was how forthright she was. I liked that she made a choice to be with Corin and would deal with the consequences as they came, since you know it’s not like they could get married given that she has no noble blood and their marriage would not give any alliance advantages. I liked how she kind of threw caution to the wind for their love but was also discreet about the affair.
If you read Moth And Spark thinking the book is going to be in your face about dragons and magic, you might have come to the wrong place. Sure, the book opens with a map. However, it’s more about political maneuvering and warfare. Actually, the build up to war and actual war itself are kind of what most of the book is about. Yes, there are wizards and dragons. It will take most of the book to get to the wizards and the dragons though, it’s not the main focus. I did like how Leonard made it so the fantasy elements of wizards and dragons were not the entire book, but more of a payoff for reading through everything else. I also liked learning about how the whole empire and Sarians worked in relation to Caithenor. I would have liked to learn more about Tyrekh, one of the bad guys who was against Caithenor, but alas, most of the focus was on the Tam-Corin love connection, which is totally cool.
I really enjoyed reading Moth And Spark by Anne Leonard, however, I am sure this will not be universal. This is not a fast paced book. This is not an easy read. The writing is kind of dense and pretty and classical. It’s an immersive reading experience. Leonard takes her time describing everything and really setting the scene. Not everyone will like that, I think. Also, there is a really, really huge focus on the romance and some kind of graphic moments. I am cool with that, but you might not be. I also think that if you go into this expecting swashbuckling and fire breathing and magic, you might be disappointed. I am a patient reader who can handle slower books and likes immersive description and prose, but not everyone is. I think that if you liked Jonathan Strange And Mr. Norrell, you will like Moth And Spark. I think that as long as you are okay with society building, warfare, and an all-consuming romance you’re going to really like Anne Leonard’s debut novel. This book is going to be really awesome for kind of a specific audience, is what I am saying.