The UHQ Nasanta's Reviews > Cast in Moonlight

Cast in Moonlight by Michelle Sagara
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2 - 2.5 stars

Narrated by Khristine Hvam

This audiobook was a free download from Audible.com, and being free (as well as recognizing the author), I thought, why not? This is my first (I think) introduction to the author, and I was interested in learning this was a prequel to a series I had been eyeing for some years now. Having listened to this more than once (first time to listen, second time to review), I am now ambivalent over whether I want to continue with the series.

I think I might have enjoyed this novella just a tad bit more had I read it. I had issues with the narrator that I think would not bother some people (although given the complaints about the narrator in earlier reviews, perhaps I'm mistaken). A couple of the things that I thought the narrator did well were that the narrator made a credible effort to give each character a distinct voice, and that the male voices were not painfully bad. I thought that her voice for the stranger who spoke through the child was particularly chilling. I would not care to listen to horror stories in the dead of the night from her in that voice. (lol) I appreciated the different voices on the one hand, but on the other, I think that perhaps it would have been better had she not done so as some of them were just too weird or annoying. Otherwise, I thought that the narrator did a decent job with the narration - aside from a couple of boo-boos such as ending a sentence in a upward tone as if there was more to the sentence.

In any case, I didn't think the narrator had a good narrating voice. While clear-spoken, there was a "scratchy" undertone especially when she was speaking in a lower register. The narrator's voice sounded rather young. Perhaps I'm just used to more mature voices instead of lighter, younger-sounding ones and therefore am biased against youthful sounding narrators. In any case, I ended up really disliking the narrator's "normal" narrating voice, I didn't like her voice for Kaylin nor the voice she used for Kaitlyn (sp?).

But the narrator was not the only problem I had with this audiobook.

I am currently sitting on the fence with regard to whether my interest in the world is strong enough to overcome my general dislike of the author's voice. I did not care for the writing so much. It sounded rather trite and cliched (imagine the accent over the "e"); I was hoping for something refreshing. For the past 5+ years, I've been extremely picky about my fantasy books. This writing did not pass my "Picky Test". I did enjoy the humor, though.

My issues with the novella, in no particular order:

Issue #1: World-building vs. Info-dump
The world seemed to unfold slowly in this novella, something that I regarded as both a positive and a negative. In a way, it didn't seem like a great info-dump introduction into the world. On the flip side, I still felt as if this novella would have been best enjoyed by someone already familiar with the world since I did end up with questions and only a vague impression of the world. Take this as you will regarding whether this novella would make a good stand-alone or not.

Issue #2: Style, Writing, Genuineness, Cliched
The novella didn't sound very natural. It seemed partially forced to sound a bit more consistent with the already published books in the series. One example was that of the voice of Kaylin. She did not sound like the 13-year old girl who had failed an assassination attempt and who, only by fortunate chance, was accepted into a cadre of law enforcers. She seemed too brash, insolent, and confident of her position within this group, easily giving commands in a crisis to people who were far more experienced than she.

The author also made poor choice with names, particularly for an audiobook format. Kaylin and Kaitlyn sounded so similar that had the narrator not given very distinct voices for them, I would not have been able to tell who was who. As it was, I still had some trouble determining who the narrator was talking about on occasion.

The writing was a bit choppy:
"She heard steel against stone but didn't move, didn't look, didn't even try to draw her own dagger."

"There was a child on the floor, faced down, blood, pooled around her upper body. But it was wet. Red. It wasn't sticky yet."

"She knew this warmth, this heat, this burning."

"Fear hit. Relief. Terror..."
(Punctuations placed based on what I heard). This was the writing style throughout the book. Also, repeating words and phrases tend to stand out when the text is read aloud, which is something an author may want to consider when crafting their words.

Issue #3: Characters and Characterization
Kaylin, as another reviewer noted, had a "modern, 'sassy' voice" that really bothered me. In retrospect, perhaps it wasn't the narrator's voice for Kaylin I objected so much but Kaylin's voice itself. I found 13-year old Kaylin neither charming nor precocious. This was unfortunate because the novella was written in Kaylin's 3rd person POV.

There was nothing interesting about Kaylin. She sounded too commonplace - almost a Mary Sue: girl from unfortunate circumstances due to more fortunate circumstances gets adopted into a happy and supportive circle of friends/allies who think she's really special, and it just so happens that she is not an ordinary child with ordinary skills and talents. Yeah, already read that and read that. What is this called? Wish-fulfillment?

I felt that the author was not able to separate the 20-year old Kaylin from Book 1 with 13-year old Kaylin. As I'd mentioned, Kaylin sounded too confident of her position with the group. But also, in a scene toward the end of the book, Kaylin sounded like an adult, continuously referring to "the child" and "At the same time, the girl stirred in Kaylin's arms. She was a stranger. A stranger's child. Someone who Kaylin didn't know and might never see again. She was also just that moment the most precious gift that Kaylin had ever been given". I had to wonder, Kaylin herself is a child. These children who were being killed ranged from who knows what as the youngest to, so far, 10 years old. Whatever age this particular girl was, Kaylin herself was barely old enough to continue to refer to her as "the child" as well as refer to the girl as "the most precious gift...ever been given" without sounding utterly ridiculous in my ears.

In a way, the characters tended to sound just a tad bit similar in their speech and thoughts. "Too damn long/tall" or the endearment "Kitling" were a couple of the ways that the characters failed to sound less cliched (again, imaginary accent) and more distinct.

Issue #4: Loose Ends and Plot
The novella did not address why Kaylin was sent to assassinate this Lord Hawk person nor by whom it was ordered although this assassination attempt was the very first thing we learned about. Kaylin as described in the beginning of the novella didn't sound like the Kaylin who was met by Kaitlyn. In the crisis toward the end of the book, (view spoiler)

As for the plot, it was...interesting. I have to admit, I still have no idea what was really going on - something magical with dead children and strange markings involved. I figured this was partly due to my lack of knowledge about the world and further series. The Leontine or whatever those lion-people were sounded interesting, but the descriptive words used for the Barrani (or was it some other group?) had me rolling my eyes as my mind flashed back to Bella's reverent descriptions of Edward's perfection.

I give the story and the writing 2 stars.
I give the narration 2.5 stars.
I give my own enjoyment 1 star.

Tracey's review covers other issues I had with the audiobook and neglected to mention.

First read: April 14, 2012
Second read: April 27, 2012 (?) - May 4, 2012
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Reading Progress

05/03/2012 "Trying to re-listen the last half hour for a more complete review but it ain't happening. I've tried ~5 times and each time, I fell asleep. -_-; How did I manage to stay awake through the first listen? *yawns*"

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by new_user (new)

new_user For what it's worth, her Sun Sword series is way better writing and creativity -wise, so you may want to check that series out before you decide for sure. I have no idea why she went to something with such narrower scope and trite content and why it sells better than her epic series. Maybe it was too sprawling for people.


The UHQ Nasanta Thanks for the recommendation. I'm really hesitant to continue reading her because I think I built up so much aggravation, frustration and dislike with her writing listening to this audiobook a second time that I don't think I could read her other works (at least not right now) without emotional bias against it. However, I will check out the series to see if it is something I might be interested in in the future. :)


message 3: by Jen (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jen Wow, after reading this review, all 4 of your main issues were ones I had trouble with while listening to book 1 of the series. In fact, I'm only going back and listening to this one because I had gotten it for free on Audible.


message 4: by new_user (new)

new_user At least the writing you probably would have liked better if it wasn't audio, I think.


message 5: by Jen (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jen I don't think so. I've listened to other books with that narrator (and different authors) and those didn't have all the weird pauses, which leads me to believe that the author wrote the sentences that way to begin with.


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