Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Book Review in Lieu of Jail Time

I’m not normally going to put book reviews on this blog. If you want to know what I’m reading or chat about books, please become my friend on Goodreads. But I have no choice but to blog about Two Moon Princess: this review is going to keep me out of jail.

Princess Andrea de Montemaior is a prototypical strong heroine—she could outshoot The Hunger Games’ Katniss in an archery match (but maybe not out-hunt her), and she might stand a chance against Graceling’s Katsa if the fight started at a distance. She chafes under the restrictions of her patriarchal society, clearly inspired by the author’s Spanish heritage. Andrea is the fourth and youngest daughter of the king, and thus is allowed to learn archery and study with the pages until she reaches her majority. Her ambition is to become a knight, an idea her father flatly forbids.

The plot thickens quickly, as a war begins to brew with a neighboring kingdom, and Andrea’s older sisters make a series of disastrous romantic choices. By the time I was 50 pages in, I was settling in for a rip-roaring epic fantasy. But then the plot takes a sharp left turn toward the strange. Author Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban wasn’t satisfied to write “just” an epic fantasy. Princess Andrea finds a misty cove that, when conditions are right, will transport anyone within to an alternate world. The other world is filled with strange languages, huge houses, and rushing automobiles: modern Southern California.

Thus begins as skillful a blend of urban and epic fantasy as I’ve read. It’s like a mash-up of Emma Bull’s War for the Oaks with Kristin Cashore’s Graceling. Andrea is torn between two worlds: the freedom, safety, and modern convenience of ours and the responsibilities of hers. Worse, she begins to develop romantic feeling for an enemy leader—will she follow her heart or her duty?

Ferreiro-Esteban places numerous difficult choices in Princess Andrea’s path. And she is so well-developed as a character that I couldn’t help but agonize with her over each decision. I also appreciated that the author never talks down to her readers. For example, the length of the year is different on Andrea’s home world than on ours, so she’s fourteen at home, but seventeen on earth. I can’t recall another alternate world story that didn’t just brush by this inevitable detail with more than a nod and a wave.

In short, if you’re the kind of reader that likes strong heroines, epic fantasy, urban fantasy, or twisty royal romance, give Two Moon Princess some of your precious reading time.

So how is this review going to keep me out of jail? Well, my debut novel, ASHFALL, will be published by Tanglewood Press in October 2011, the same company that published Two Moon Princess in 2007. (I did not get a review copy, however. I bought two copies, one which I gave away and another to keep.) I happen to know that there’s a sequel to Two Moon Princess completed, and that it’s sitting on our editor’s desk. And I’ll be visiting Tanglewood Press in July for the Tanglewood Author Retreat. So here’s my evil plan—I’m going to attempt to steal the sequel and read it. Don’t tell Carmen or anyone at Tanglewood, please. I know I’m going to get caught, because, well, I just confessed to the crime. I figure my claim of temporary insanity will be more believable if I establish how much I love, love, loved the first book in advance. Wish me luck!

Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban's website
Buy Two Moon Princess on Indiebound
Buy Two Moon Princess on Amazon
Buy Two Moon Princess on Barnes & Noble