Moth And Spark by Anne Leonard | Book Review

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.

Moth And Spark by Anne Leonard | Book ReviewMoth and Spark by Anne Leonard
Published by Penguin on 2014-02-20
Genres: Epic, Fantasy, Fiction, Romance, Sagas
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
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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.

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I’ve been waiting for your review, April!! 🙂

    I’m kind of nervous to read this because, like you, it’s something I would have been all over before I started blogging but now big, slow paced books like this intimidate me. I mean, logically I know I can read them, I read classics (which sometimes move so slowly I want to bang my head against the wall) for class all the time with no problems, but I just feel like reading a book like this is such a commitment. Which is funny because I used to purposely pick books that were super long with lots of sequels, something that’s pretty easy to do when you mostly read epic fantasy.

    Anyway, I like that this is compared to Marillier, since I love her books/writing. And that there’s a big focus on the love story and some graphic scenes… I’m alllll for that. 😉

    Great review – I’ll be reading this one!

  2. You’re definitely right about it not being fast-paced or easy but it was SO GOOD. I adored Tam and wish there were more practical heroines/heroes in books like her. The romance between the MCs was well done and I loved the incorporation of the family into the entire story. More like this, please!

  3. This sounds really great April!

  4. Is it weird that the fact that it’s about political maneuvering interests me more than the dragons? How you know you were a Poli Sci major in college…

    Awesome review. I can’t wait to pick up the book.

  5. I rarely come across an adult title that I’m *really* excited to read, but this is definitely one of them. I really appreciate everything you brought up in your review, though, especially about how the writing is dense and classical. I think the focus on politics and romance sounds great, but I have to be in a certain mood for the denser writing, since I usually read YA. I’m really excited to give this book a try! I hope my library hold comes in soon, lol.

  6. This sounds like I would love it! I know what you mean about not taking the time to read dense fantasy written for adults when YA is so accessible. And since this kind of a book would be for me and not for work, I have to really want to read it to give it a try.

  7. This sounds really good, and right up my alley. Thanks for the review! I just finished a book that sounds similar in style to this one (a historical fic called Hild), that took me two weeks to read instead of two days. It’s refreshing to change up reading experiences once in awhile.

  8. I just received MOTH AND SPARK in the mail. Not going to lie, I’m pretty excited! It does seem a bit intimidating in terms of length, but I do love my fantasies and am excited to dive into an adult fantasy novel. From what you’ve mentioned in your review, I think I’m going to like it (even though it may take some time for me to finish it).

  9. Excellent review! I’ve actually seen this pop up around quite a few of the blogs that I read. I can be a patient reader if I know there will be a good pay off at the end. I’ll add this one to my wishlist and hopefully get around to it. Maybe over summer vacation? 🙂

    Thanks for the review!

  10. I was bummed to see that the dragons don’t have a huge part, but the way you explained it made it seem so much better! We have very similar tastes in fantasy novels so I’m excited for this one again!


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