Published by Thomas Dunne Books on October 4, 2016
Genres: Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology, Fantasy & Magic, LGBT, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Source: Personal Copy
Sexual Content: Moderate sex scenes
Reviewed by: Rebecca
To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town. But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.
WHEN THE MOON WAS OURS is an important, excellently-crafted novel. If you love magical realism, you’ll gorge yourself on metaphors, similes, and imagery. However, like most magical realism books, WHEN THE MOON WAS OURS is heavy on emotional growth but light on plot. Both main characters are people of colour and have been shaped by their familial histories. Miel, with the rose that grows on her wrist, that her family hated and feared. Sam, who knows he’s a boy but still worries that his mother expects this to be a phase. Both Miel and Sam are wonderfully realistic. They worry, keep secrets, and lash out. But they also love each other, and each will protect the other no matter what.
The book is written like a fairytale. The sentences are delicate. The imagery is loaded into every words. Everything is mystical and beautiful...but not necessarily clear. The villains of the novel are the Bonner sisters. Four beautiful siblings that seems to have the power to enthrall any man. They are hated, feared, and loved. And I’m still not sure I entirely understood them.
What stopped this from being a perfect novel was the ending. Miel spends the entire novel letting things happen to her. Her fear of pumpkins, of enclosed spaces, and of the Bonner sisters are never truly resolved. While she does stand up to the Bonner sisters, it’s a hollow victory. Another issue, which I need to be careful about phrasing since it’s huge book spoilers, two female POC take on Caucasian traits by the end of the novel. It’s not their choice, but it still seems to complete them. With so many rich, interesting characters, this was an uncomfortable way to end their journey.Series Titles:
- For more gorgeous writing and LGBTAQ+ characters, check out Love in the Time of Global Warming (Love in the Time of Global Warming #1) by Francesca Lia Block, The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black, or Wonders of the Invisible World by Christopher Barzak