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Someday My Printz Will Come
Inside Someday My Printz Will Come

A Creature of Moonlight

A Creature of Moonlight by Rebecca Hahn
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, May 2014
Reviewed from ARC

This is a book that, I’m pretty sure, was written just for me. I love fantasy, I love courtly politics, I love dragons and willful ladies. Somehow, though, even though my review is due, I have to confess that I’m only about half way through. (Sometimes, reading in short bursts on the subway is not my friend, even though it makes for nice visuals.)

I have a second confession: if I were on RealCommittee, I’m not sure I’d finish A Creature of Moonlight. It’s written in a distinctive first person voice, it’s got a detailed fantasy setting, the passages describing the lure of magic are strong, and it provides a thoughtful exploration of what it means to be different — it’s competent and sometimes compelling, but it doesn’t feel fresh or particularly groundbreaking.

It’s also a very slow-paced story; Marni’s only just started on knitting her vengeance and hasn’t even taken off for the forest to explore the woodland magic. Her time at court is clearly wrapping up, and I’m looking forward to lots of upcoming stuff (getting more answers, meeting the dragon, watching Marni navigate the path forward — which will probably involve less revenge than I’m hoping for).

So don’t get me wrong; I’ll be sad to put it aside. The number of readers I’ll be handing this book to is pretty impressive, too; there’s certainly appeal within the pages. But time is limited, and we have a mission here! This is the kind of decision RealCommittee members have to make pretty often — when to give up on a good but not entirely Printzly read. And I think I’ve reached that point.

What I will be wondering about: A Creature of Moonlight‘s chances as a Morris finalist. We’ve written before about the differences between Printz reading and Morris reading. With the smaller pool of candidates, I wonder if Hahn’s strong characterization and detailed world building will stand out. I definitely hope so; I’ll be happy to have the excuse to return to the title.

Many of you have probably finished this book. What are your thoughts? Can you give me any excuses to pick it back up during blogging season (she types with hope)?

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About Sarah Couri

Sarah Couri is a librarian at Grace Church School's High School Division, and has served on a number of YALSA committees, including Quick Picks, Great Graphic Novels, and (most pertinently!) the 2011 Printz Committee. Her opinions do not reflect the attitudes or opinions of SLJ, GCS, YALSA, or any other institutions with which she is affiliated. Find her on Twitter @scouri or e-mail her at scouri35 at gmail dot com.

Comments

  1. I finished this book, but only just barely. And, sadly, your thoughts mirror not just my own but also the thoughts of other people I know who have read this book.

    Even months later I’ve been thinking about what exactly didn’t work here and I’m still not sure. I suspect part of the problem was an uneasy push and pull between what the book actually IS versus what the marketing copy tells us the book COULD BE. I find I really wanted more of the book that was advertised than the quiet and meditative story I got.

  2. I really enjoyed this one, but I wouldn’t consider it a serious contender for the Printz at all. The only thing that makes me even pause is Marni’s voice, because Hahn does first person really well. But overall, although I did finish it and liked it, I don’t think it really did anything that hasn’t already been done (and even done better).

  3. Karyn Silverman says:

    I gave this up unfinished. Like Maureen, I was left feeling like I had seen this before, and better, and I just wasn’t feeling it. Someone I follow on Twitter whose taste in books I generally like (I honestly can’t remember who, just that it was a book opinion I trusted) had raved about this, and then it nabbed three stars, so I assumed the issue was me but it’s looking more and more like the consensus is only lukewarm. But then I wonder about those stars and what they saw that made this special. Are we all missing something?

  4. I wanted to be madly in love with this book (like many of you, apparently), but I couldn’t get into it. I did read the whole thing. Looking back, I can say that it is beautifully written, a little Patricia McKillip-ish, but it is slow, and okay, even drags. People seem to hang around meditatively. The parts that should have been amazing were more along the lines of pleasant. Even if it weren’t a dragon book, I think it would need a little more fire.

  5. Sarah Couri says:

    Karyn, you have me thinking: what’s up with the stars? For me (and from what I’ve read of the book), I loved Marni’s absolute insistence on independence. I enjoyed the narration. I liked the slow pace, the thoughtful feel of the plot. There were parts that worked, they just weren’t extraordinary (to me, jaded reader that I guess I am in my advanced age).

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