I’m happy to be part of the blog tour for Shelly Campbell’s Under the Lesser Moon! This is a compelling dark fantasy about one boy’s search for self and acceptance among the harsh and unforgiving rules of his society. In addition to a review, I included a summary of the novel in 5 GIFs. So fun! So be sure to keep scrolling after the review to check out my GIF summary! 🙂
Title: Under the Lesser Moon
Author: Shelly Campbell
Series: The Marked Son (Book 1)
Publication Date: Nov. 7, 2020
Publisher: Mythos & Ink
Synopsis: “Dragons once led our people across the wastelands, away from storms, and toward hunting grounds.”
That’s what the elders say, but Akrist has squinted at empty skies his whole life. The dragons have abandoned them, and it’s Akrist’s fault. He’s cursed. Like every other firstborn son, he has inherited the sins of his ancestors. In his camp, he’s the only eldest boy left. Something happened to the others. Something terrible.
When Akrist befriends Tanar, an eldest boy from another tribe, he discovers the awful truth: they’re being raised as sacrifices to appease the Goddess and win back her dragons. The ritual happens when the dual moons eclipse. Escape is the only option, but Akrist was never taught to hunt or survive the wastelands alone. Time is running out, and he has to do something before the moons touch.
Under the Lesser Moon is an immersive dark fantasy that follows the life of Akrist, a daeson, or cursed son, who is marked for sacrifice by his tribe. Treated as less-than for his entire life because of his cursed status, Akrist’s story is heart-breaking. A boy who isn’t touched, who doesn’t know love, who lives on the outskirts of society, Akrist is rejected by his tribe daily. His own mother detests him, and his father barely offers him comfort.
Akrist is a survivor, and, against all odds, he perseveres. As he develops feelings for someone in the tribe, and they try to save other daesons from their terrible fate, Akrist finds a new purpose. However, is Akrist prepared for the wasteland that awaits? Will he be able to escape undetected? If he’s not sacrificed, will the Goddess ever return her dragons to their world?
Akrist is exceptionally well-developed, and I wholly rooted for him as he faced unfathomable and brutal obstacles throughout the novel. He has a lovely bond with a unique animal in his care, which makes sense since he is so connected to animals. Later in the story, Akrist finds friendship and support in some unexpected places, especially since one of his connections is with a creature that he’s taught to loathe and fear. I loved that Akrist managed to find hope even when things seemed hopeless.
Other characters, including several unusual creatures, are dynamically developed as well. I liked that so many characters had distinct and unique personalities and felt that this added such depth to the story. I could feel how conflicted Akrist’s father was, for example, wanting to love and protect his son while trying to appease his rage-filled and fearful wife. Even non-communicative creatures were vividly and effectively portrayed.
In addition to the fantastic character development, the world-building is exceptional. It’s a well-layered and immersive world, and I found the creation myth and its influence on society to be particularly fascinating. Strict, brutal, and unyielding religious and social beliefs dictate the lives of the characters, with most unwilling to stand up for change. I found it interesting that the people who are revered and respected are often the worst characters, and the good people are maltreated, rejected, and disrespected. There are definite messages here about a person’s worth and what society values.
This is much darker than my normal read, and the story includes difficult situations and events that might trigger readers. Child abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, animal abuse, violence, and disturbing sacrificial rituals are just some of the horrific things that the characters, especially Akrist, endure. However, if you like dark fantasy that borders on horror at times, then you will like this book. It’s a unique read with powerful messages, and I’m curious to see what is in store for Akrist as he continues his journey. Thanks so much to the author and Mythos & Ink for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review!
I couldn’t decide which was worse, being blind to my fate, or knowing the exact date of its arrival.