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The Ruby Key

(Moon & Sun #1)

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  1,969 ratings  ·  192 reviews
Bestselling fantasy writer Holly Lisle brings us her children's debut with a lyrical, fast paced fantasy for middle-grade readers!

Mankind is Sunkind
And rules by the light;
Nightlings are Moonkind,
And rule in the night;
Or there will be war.

Human and Nightlings are never to meet, but when Genna and her brother Dan venture into the old forest at night, they encounter a Nightli
Hardcover, 361 pages
Published May 1st 2008 by Orchard Books
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Average rating 3.92  · 
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 ·  1,969 ratings  ·  192 reviews

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Eva Mitnick
Mar 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children, fantasy

This fantasy starts off like many Human vs. Unhuman stories, with the humans making a yearly ritualistic offering to the nightlings in order to maintain an old truce that promises that nightlings won’t harm humans so long as humans give them goods and don’t trespass on nightling territory. Nightlings are a bit like elves – their faces are delicate and ethereal, their skin comes in colors like yellow and blue, their magic is of a higher order than that of humankind, and they can only venture out
I have no idea how to rate this book.

I read it long ago and thought it was original and exciting. But that was when I had no literary sense and thought Eragon was good.

So, here's what I can tell you:

- the plot is rather unoriginal (basically, three teens look for a magical person to save their families from an evil king.)

- the adventure takes place in an exciting world; while reading it, I felt like I was exploring a mysterious place, as if down Alice's rabbit hole. The cover art helps set the
Roxanne Hsu Feldman
Apr 24, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 4-6grade, fantasy
It felt very loose -- the book. The pacing is off due to many "mini-expositions" -- whenever Genna meets a new character or a new situation, a long winded explanation ensues and none of the elements really feels belonging to quite the same world. There are all kind of "standard fantasy characters": the fortune-teller, the cat, the fairies, etc. but feeling very "pieced together." The whole time I read it, I felt like I was watching someone knit a multi-colored and patterned sweater -- and the kn ...more
Joanna Brauckmann
Aug 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens-books
This is a brilliant book! It's one of the best children's books I have ever read. It's fresh, thoughtful and full of suspense. The characters face and have to made hard decisions, are bound by tribal laws which they always bend to and torn between family and duty. I like the idea of the moon roads, slipping between worlds during the hours of moonlight and searching for places you have to go. But traveling them is not for free. What you need of the moon road might not be given and the moon roads ...more
Dec 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is the first book in Lisle's Sun and Moon trilogy. I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. I had read a couple of Lisle's older books back when I was in high school and remember liking them. Well I am glad I picked this up because it was a great book!

Gennadara and Daneth live in a small village called Hillrush and along with the other villagers struggling to maintain peace with the Nightlings, a race that can only emerge at night that is ruled by the evil and immortal Letrin. When Genn
Mar 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is more a young adult book but I think most fantasy readers would enjoy it. The world is shared by humans and nightlings. They are at peace but the peace can easily be disrupted. Genna and her brother Dan are worried. Their father is missing and most presume him dead. Their father's friend, Bantris, is acting as Caer. Their mother has an illness they aren't able to cure. So they decide to sneak out an tap the tantru tree for its curative sap. Since nobody will let them do this during the da ...more
Pepper Thorn
Nov 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: If you like magic, adventure, and strong felmale characters this is a winner.
This is one of the most interesting and creative worlds I have seen in a middle grade book. It ranks right up there with Suzanne Collins Gregor series and Garth Nix Keys to the Kingdom and Seventh Tower books. I love the dichotomy of the humans amd the nightlings, the magic that feels both earthy and otherworldly at the same time, and the sense that there is more going on than we are being told. The characters are real and engaging and though their outlook is appropriately straightforward there ...more
Shanshad Whelan
Mar 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens, series, fantasy
Decent fantasy series. Ms. Lisle knows how to write a story and how to craft characters. Overall it kept me reading quickly through this first book in the series. Should be very appealing to middle grade readers and has a strong female protagonist who struggles to succeed and save her family and people. Obviously, the story isn't done yet, but this first book has a decent conclusion that satisfies. I'll likely pick up the next book. My main complaint may be that the plot gets a little convoluted ...more
Jun 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
I liked the book as a whole - enough traditional fairytale to have the feeling of roots, but with its own worldbuilding and plot variations as well - but I think two things really sold me on it.

1) Moon-roads. Not to get too spoilery but that bit of the plot contributed in a considerable way to the size and the power and danger of the world, and made it feel - wilder, and more full of possibilities, than it would have otherwise.

2) I was able to get to know the characters, and felt they were worth
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
Lisle, Holly The Ruby Key, 368 p. Scholastic (Print Date: May 2008).

Genna and Dan are desperate to find their father and save their mother, before she is forced to marry the village's new chieftain. What they don't know, however, is that their incredible journey is destined to save more than one race of peoples. Cunning will be needed and danger must be encountered along every step of the way as the two and their companions try to satisfy the demands of the nightling king without getting themse
Apr 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nostalgia, reviews
I first read this book when I was probably around 10, and vague memories of it have haunted me ever since. Luckily quarantine has left me too emotionally exhausted to read my big girl books, and I finally gave this one a reread.
In a lot of ways, it holds up better than I would have expected. The concept is solid and fairly well-developed given its target audience, and the conflict feels real and consequential while still being appropriate enough for the protagonists' ages.
I was slightly disappo
Rachel Smith
Jun 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This tome was a delight. I was pleasantly surprised to find that, although the magic and creatures are perfectly original, it still has the elusive flavor of old-fashioned epic quests - in the tradition of fantasy classics such as The Princess and the Goblin, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit, and Lord of the Rings - that demands the accompaniment of a rainy day and a cup of tea. Pick up this book and become lost in the adventures of a brother and sister, a nightling (NOT an elf - yay!) and a ...more
Reading the back cover, this book sounded like it had a very good story tucked away. was not to be. This book definably had promise, but the author didn't EXPLAIN ANYTHING. At least, not very good. On the spine of the book, it clearly said "Book 1", however it might have been book 4 of a 8 book series. It started too abruptly. In fact I never got past page 15.

I might come back to it someday....However, not now. Defiantly not now.
Aug 22, 2012 rated it liked it
the plot for this book turned out to be something new, the first book(moon sun ruby key) was nice enough and the second book(silver door) was not bad but i dont think the third book has come out yet ( well silver door was published in what 2009????)well since complete the series is incomplete it's OK overall ...... ...more
Jan 17, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: read2015
Some parts were quite exciting, but it was so long and the world was so complicated to imagine that it was pretty hard work to keep track of all the important characters and facts. Working so hard to understand the story made it hard for me to really get into it and enjoy it completely. It was a good challenge for me though, since many of the books I read are pretty easy for me.
Sep 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Although it started a bit slow, it was a solid adventure. There were certain elements I enjoyed particularly - the worldbuilding, the different worlds and wonders of the moonroads, and, importantly, that the protagonist made mistakes, and faced the consequences of those mistakes.

The ending seemed a bit deus ex machina and a little cliche, but it was a good read.
May 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
It starts off very slow, but it gets good once you read far enough. The author has good worldbuilding. However, it takes a bit of time to get used to the terms used. She put thought into the characters and gave them believable failures. A good book once you get into it, but that might take a while. I almost gave up because the start is a tad slow and generic.
Jun 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Middle-graders interested in Fantasy
Shelves: series
My very first Fantasy Novel that I have read when I was a child...and re-read oh so many times!
An amazing book and an amazing story - fast paced and a real quick read.

I'm still in search of the 2nd part of the book...sigh.
Anyhow, a great start to reading for middle-grades!
Janet Hamm
Dec 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Well-written! Must read more!
Mar 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
LOVED this book. It's unusual to find a book that has characters who think. This one does it well.

My favourite book so far this year.
Michael Lucas
May 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
I read this aloud to my daughter who was 10 or 11 at the time. A great story for that age, full of suspense without being too scary. Some very memorable settings and scenes.
Pratiti Majumder
Jun 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
the narration was truly lyrical and magical
Beth Dettman
Apr 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
A good middle grade book. It started out kinda slow, but I got pretty involved in the characters. The main character has a nice arc, I think. I’m interested in getting the sequel.
May 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
This book was like a dream, and not in the way you’re thinking. Often people have incoherent dreams that lead from one thing to another with no rhyme or reason. This book was like that, but to a lesser extent. I was confused for a lot of the book, trying to put things together, but at the end, things started to make a lot more sense.

I enjoyed the scenery in this book. Often the author would tell instead of show, but it didn’t make the book more boring. You just have to acclimate to the style of
Raven R. (AvalonReadsBooks)
I'm honestly not sure if I liked this book.

I will say I was interested in the plot and the outcome. I felt for all the characters. I wanted things to work out, and the two children were believable characters though the magic and the strange names for it got confusing after a while. The movement was slow, even when things were happening, all the way up until the end where everything happened at once and you couldn't quite tell what was happening. And the bad guy gets away making room for a secon
Mar 12, 2021 marked it as to-read
I read this book when I was in elementary school, and for some reason the story stuck with me. I remembered the cover art, the brother and sister, the fey prince and his palace, the moon and sun... and that's IT. LITERALLY. Then I got urge to reread it, and I spent two hours searching up random keywords looking for it. The combination that eventually worked was "middle grade fantasy trilogy brother + sister sun and moon journey." It took me forever to come up with that exact combination, after l ...more
Jan 06, 2021 rated it liked it
I certainly can think of several middle school students who would’ve loved reading this book when I taught that age level. For me, it was just okay, but I’m not really that into fantasy, so I’m probably not the best judge.

Read for Popsugar 2021 Reading Challenge: a book with a gem, mineral, or rock in the title.

Read for Around the Year in 52 Books Challenge: January #1 - a book related to “In the beginning...”
(I chose this because it was the first in the series.)
Jun 13, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Very unique world building and, therefore, engrossing. The author had a pattern all her own that I caught on to about halfway through, but it was so refreshing to read about a different type of world. My library cataloged it with middle grade books, but it's dark enough that I would move it to teen. Plus, there's so little to ground readers (because it's so deep) I feel like teens would enjoy the unbounded creativity more than younger kids. ...more
Peyton Stafford
I have been subscribing to Holly Lisle's newsletter of advice to authors, and so I thought I would try one of her books. Unfortunately, it was not my cup of tea. I see that a lot of readers loved it, so I am sure that for them it is a great book, but I did not resonate with it so I skimmed it. I did not give it a star rating because I did not read it from cover to cover. ...more

A beautifully done, unique spin on the fairytale journey story. I just couldn't quite love it as much as it deserved. But still very good, and especially recommended for MGers as a whole and those who love the fairytale formula.
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Holly Lisle has been writing fiction professionally since 1991, when she sold FIRE IN THE MIST, the novel that won her the Compton Crook Award for best first novel. She has to date published more than thirty novels and several comprehensive writing courses. She has just published WARPAINT, the second stand-alone novel in her Cadence Drake series.

Holly had an ideal childhood for a writer…which is t

Other books in the series

Moon & Sun (2 books)
  • The Silver Door (Moon & Sun, #2)

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“How did you do it?" he wanted to know. "Enchanted arrows? Spell of exploding flesh? Rain of fire? No, not that. The worm would be cooked and we would be eating it. Wand of destruction? Oh, a wand of destruction would be a find, fine thing." He turned to me. "Speak up, girl."
I hit him with your skillet. A lot.”
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