The Moon Witch is the second book in the trilogy of the Fyne sisters, witches who are only beginning to develop their powers under the shadow of a centuries-old curse. I did not read the first book, The Sun Witch, but for the most part, was able to follow the action of this story, although readers must be warned that The Moon Witch is not as much a stand-alone book as some.
Juliet, the middle Fyne sister, has the gift of sight. In touching someone, she can see his past and future. Unfortunately, this gift does not include seeing her own future, so she is as much in the dark as anyone about what is to come. As the book begins, Juliet and the widowed Isadora (the eldest sister) are taken prisoner by Emperor Sebestyen’s soldiers. Although Juliet had vague premonitions of bad things coming, the sisters are caught unaware and dragged from their home to be taken to Sebestyen in Columbyana’s capital. The sociopathic Sebestyen met their sister Sophie, and his life was permanently altered. He seeks to turn the power tables by capturing Isadora and Juliet, thus forcing Sophie’s hand and the hand of her husband, who is a power in the rebel forces opposing Sebestyen.
Enter further complications in the form of Ryn of the Anwyn, a race of werewolves. Ryn has been seeking his mate, and when he comes across Juliet, he knows he has found her. He snatches her from her captors on the road, and takes her with him into the mountains. There he explains her destiny: she is one of those fated to be married to the Anwyn. Anwyn only have sons, therefore they must seek their wives amongst outsiders. Juliet will accompany him back to The City, where he has built a house for her to tend for him and raise their sons in. However, even Ryn has some unknowns waiting for him as Juliet is not what she immediately appears.
There is a lot going on in this book. Besides Ryn and Juliet’s story, Sophie and her new husband and children make appearances. With the Fyne curse still looming, Sophie must find a way to break it before her husband turns 30, at which time he is fated to die (or leave), like Isadora’s husband who recently fell victim to the curse. The reader is also re-introduced to Sebastyen’s new empress Liane – she’s a former courtesan/assassin trying to maintain her new position at court. With so much going on, those who like things wrapped up neatly on the last page will be disappointed. Although this book does complete Ryn and Juliet’s love story, by book’s end the fates of all three sisters and the curse are yet to be determined, and new problems have cropped up for Liane, all of which will require reading book three.
Unfortunately, by the time I finished The Moon Witch I was not up for either the prequel or the sequel. While The Moon Witch started off promisingly enough with Juliet’s capture and attraction to the mysteriously sexy, wild Ryn, it waned in the middle and got bogged down in some very repetitious emotion. Essentially each and every character repeatedly maundered on about his destiny/her curse/her relationship with psychotic Emperor Sebestyen ad nauseum. Very few new conflicts arose, and the ones that did were annoying, or again, needlessly complicated.
A good example of this is Ryn. Easy to like when he’s a mystery, it becomes clear quite soon that that “mystery” covers up a whole lot of, well, mouth breathing. He’s a man of not too many thoughts, completely comfortable with his given destiny which is to work in The City and sire children on Juliet. However, in this he’s thrown a curve ball, and in surly male fashion, he doesn’t take it very well. He sulks, he feels gypped. He kicks against the pricks – i.e., mumbles and pouts to himself. It’s not very manly, and frankly, his desire/expectation of forcing Juliet to conform to Anwyn ways is not really “heroic.”
Anwyn society is a strange combination of patriarchal and matriarchal. At the tippy top of the hierarchy is the Queen of the Anwyn. She rules everyone, and everyone drools all over her because of her special powers and qualities. Below her are the Anwyn men, who can produce only male offspring. Below them are their captured brides. Jones makes a point of saying that the wives are at the bottom of the social scale, but held in much higher esteem than all other humans by the Anwyn. However, there are no other humans interacting on a daily basis with the Anwyn. It’s not like there are human slaves doing the work or human servants fetching and carrying for said brides. The captured brides are it. Due to the supernatural distinction of being an Anwyn mate, these women can expect to be kidnapped from their normal lives, friends, family, and jobs and made to keep house and bear male children for the Anwyn. And that supernatural distinction doesn’t carry any guarantee of love. If her mate is a gumpy Anwyn, she just has to make the best of the cooking and cleaning and complete isolation from her heritage. Is that a heaping spoonful of romance, or what? This is what Ryn expects to present to Juliet, our heroine, in love.
Finally, there’s the relationship of Liane and Sebestyen. This is the one story that I couldn’t completely follow as a new reader of this series. It’s unclear whether the reader is supposed to want them to be together or not. Liane is a strong character, and there is a love of sorts between them, but Sebestyen is kind of skeevy in the cruel, sociopathic sense of the word. It’s hard to want an HEA for him, although he’s not precisely the villain of this piece. Or is he?
The Moon Witch took me over a week to read, mostly because I got so bogged down in its slow middle. Toward the end the story perked up a bit and moved more quickly, but by that time, I’d run out of patience with the Anwyn and given up caring about the rest of the characters. If romances with multiple paranormal elements and destined lovers are your preference, you might give this a go, but I can’t recommend it without reservations. Also, expect to have to read the third book even if Isadora doesn’t appeal to you. You won’t get your HEA otherwise.
Publication Date: 2005
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