When the terrorist witch coven known as Moonset was destroyed fifteen years ago—after a secret war against the witch Congress—five children were left behind, burdened by the terrible legacy of their parents. So when Justin Daggett and the other Moonset orphans are threatened by a dangerous figure from their past, the Congress evacuates them from high school.
Now they’ve been brought to Carrow Mill, New York, the very place where their parents began experimenting with Maleficia, the black arts of magic. Soon after their arrival, black magic starts wreaking havoc on the town, and the Moonset orphans are accused of unleashing it. Justin will do everything he can to prove their innocence, but tracking down the true culprit leads him to a terrifying discovery about Moonset’s past . . . and its deadly future.
When I saw Moonset in the Flux spring catalogue, I was immediately intrigued, as it had the makings of an exciting story. A terrorist witch coven? What kind of society would that happen in? Was magic out in the open or was it hidden? How and why would these innocent children be held responsible for their parents’ crimes? So I was happy to get my hands on an eARC and be able to see whether all my questions were answered. And while it turned out not all of them were answered, many of them were and some I hadn’t thought to ask. I ended up tearing through Moonset and I really enjoyed the book.
This enjoyment was largely due to the characters, who weren’t perfect and some of them fell a little flat, but a lot of their dialogues and interactions were really fun and really snappy and I enjoyed them a lot. The story is told in the first person perspective by Jason. He’s a sympathetic character even if he can come across as a bit of a martyr. In some ways he’s a true middle child – both because he’s a peacemaker and because he feels overlooked a lot – in others not so much, as he doesn’t seem to truly resent his siblings. He’s well-developed and grows quite a bit over the course of the book. Unlike the other siblings, unfortunately. The other four are almost stereotypes; Malcolm is the successful, serious, and ambitious eldest, Jenna is the rebel without a cause, cynical and disruptive, hiding a lot of hurt under her bad-girl exterior, Cole is the know-it-all little brother, and Bailey is the sensitive youngest, who needs to be babied and protected. They each have a role and stick to it, which is rather a shame, as there was a lot of potential in developing these family dynamics. We get a glimpse of them developing, but it’s all muted compared to Justin, although this could be due to his being the point of view through which the story is told. Hopefully there will be more of a focus on the others next time. I’m also looking forward to learn more about Ash, Justin’s love interest, and Quinn, the twins’ guardian, as their characters had an interesting twist in the final part of the novel and the implications of these twists are bound to have an echoing effect in the next book.
While I was disappointed with the rather stereotypical nature of the various siblings, I really disliked the way Tracey stereotyped Meghan Virago, Maddy, and even Jenna for that matter. They are all portrayed as mean girls, unkind, arrogant, and Meghan is even called an outright bitch not just by Justin, but also by Jenna. In fact, even her surname Virago is a clue to the way she is portrayed. It’s not that I’m opposed to women being cast as villains, but the way Tracey chose to do it, at least in the cases of Virago and Maddy, where they have no redeeming qualities whatsoever and their evilness is mostly remarked upon in relation to the way they dress, look, and behave, just rubbed me the wrong way.
Moonset‘s plot was interesting and the eventual villain in this book surprising, though I got a little frustrated at the secrets the kids keep. Their trust issues not withstanding – and their caution is quite justified – the things they decide not to tell Quinn or any other adult and what they decide to do on their own were just foolhardy. While the main mystery for this book was solved, we are left with plenty of hooks for the rest of the series and I’m keen to see where Tracey takes his tale. The writing was a little up and down. While it’s snappy and rolls right a long, at times it drowned in similes, which while making the world quite vivid, also ended up making it the prose woollier than it needed to be. The dialogues, however, especially those between Justin and Ash, are great, and I found them very entertaining.
Moonset was a solid opener for the Legacy of Moonset, one I really enjoyed, despite its flaws. Tracey kept me turning pages as fast as I could. I’m looking forward to see where the mystery leads and how the kids are developed in future books. The book will be out on April 8th from Flux and if you enjoy contemporary, witchy YA fantasy then Moonset is certainly a tale you ought to check out.
This book was provided for review by the publisher.