With her third allegory in the Tales of Goldstone Wood series, Anne Elisabeth Stengl offers Moonblood. While I love the allegorical works of C.S.Lewis, and appreciate the effort for Christian fiction, this book failed to draw me. It would have helped incredibly to have an introduction of some sort, to set the stage from the previous 2 books, but as I believe most works of fiction (even in a series) should stand alone, this lacked a simple plot.
The characters, set in a mythical kingdom,and bordered by several more, felt stilted and withdrawn, while the dangers and purpose lacked clarity for me to push on in reading it. Even re-reading the dust-jacket descriptions left me more puzzled than before. Prince Lionheart, second in command of his kingdom, with an aging father hoping to set him up for ruling, is still reeling from the distrust of himself and his people after he returned from a battle with dragons. After seven chapters, I still couldn’t figure out if he actually battled the animal, or had a conversation with it. His betrothed, Daylily, is typecast as proud and beautiful, without depth. Servant Rose Red hides a grotesque set of features and her own secrets in serving Prince Lionheart, but it is never explained what her feelings on the matter are. The Prince, consistently, vacillates in his, and as his subjects distrust her, kicks her out of the kingdom, and a chapter later, is chasing after her for some unknown reason. I lost track of several other characters that had even less clarity than these. Prince Lionheart’s peer, Prince Aethelbald of the kingdom Farthestshore seems to have characteristics of redeemer, and appeared to have the clearest set of goals in the book: rescue. Prince Lionheart could not assist, tortured as he was by doubt and self-recrimination, and possible dragon-possession. Are you confused? A clear plot is vital, and this book stands in proof of it. Clever cover illustration, though.
My copy, which I will not keep, is in return for my candid review for Bethany House Publishers.