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The Five Daughters of the Moon

(The Waning Moon #1)

3.38  ·  Rating details ·  317 ratings  ·  81 reviews
Inspired by the 1917 Russian revolution and the last months of the Romanov sisters, The Five Daughters of the Moon by Leena Likitalo is a beautifully crafted historical fantasy with elements of technology fueled by evil magic.

The Crescent Empire teeters on the edge of a revolution, and the Five Daughters of the Moon are the ones to determine its future.

Alina, six, fears Ga
Paperback, 222 pages
Published July 25th 2017 by St. Martins Press-3PL
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Average rating 3.38  · 
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The Five Daughters of the Moon is the first book in the fantasy duology The Waning Moon. The sequel, The Sisters of the Crescent Empress, will come out this fall.
I decided to pick it up because its setting - the Crescent Empire - is inspired by Imperial Russia and the Russian Revolution.
This novella follows five sisters: Alina (six), Merile (eleven), Sibilia (fifteen), Elise (sixteen) and Celestia (twenty-two), the daughters of the Crescent Empress and the Moon. There are two chapters in the PoV
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
First off: if you’re like me and don’t pay enough attention, you might miss that this book is the first of a duology. It very much just comes to a stop, and will require the second volume to become a full story. You might want to hold off until you have your hands on both of them to start reading, because they’re the same story.

Anyway, The Five Daughters of the Moon is a historical fantasy based on the story of the Russian revolution. If you know the story of the Romanov sisters, you know there’
Rachel (Kalanadi)
A fantasy retelling of the Russian revolution and the fate of the Romanov sisters. Here, the Crescent Empress is wedded to the Moon, who is the symbolic father of her five daughters: Celestia (the empress-to-be), Elise, Sibilia, Merile, and Alina (the youngest). The Crescent Empress has pushed to expand the boundaries of her empire, rather than attending to the needs of her subjects. The peasants are toiling for nothing, the men dying in far off wars, and revolution brews in response.

The gagarg
Ellie (faerieontheshelf)
> 3.5 stars

This book is really hard to review because it has really interesting parts, but they were dimmed down by some not as good things.

In short: the novel taking loose inspiration from the Romanovs was something I loved. The worldbuilding was also really interesting in its presentation of an alternate fantasy version of Russia. The writing was also gorgeous, and I think Likitalo has really nice prose.

However, I really do think this duology should’ve been released as one book. I think the
Jun 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This is such an interesting world! Both immersive and incredibly surreal due to the parallels with real historical events. As described, it takes inspiration from the Russian revolution, the five daughters being the heirs to the Crescent Empire.

The villain is really well written. I disliked him a LOT and found myself rooting hard for Celestia to kick his butt.

I look forward to 'soul beads' being explained more in the sequel (out in November '17 I think) as the concept really grabbed me.

I'd re
Aug 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Hard to rate as is slow n writing can be awkward- perhaps this is a translation? Stops dead in the middle of the story.........
Anita Reads
Mar 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, read-2018
I had so high hopes for this book. In parts I really enjoyed this book. I think it had a pretty strong start, and pretty interesting ending, however between around the halfway-point until the last couple of chapters, I was a little bit bored. I probably will read the last book in the duology to figure out how it all ends up, but this did not exactly meet my expectations fully.
Jul 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fairy-tale, read-2017
I learned about this little known new release from an article that compared this to Catherynne Valente's Deathless. Apart from the pseudo-1917 Russian setting, the two books have little to nothing in common.

The Five Daughters of the Moon, first in a duology by novice Finnish writer Leena Likitalo is essentialy a YA novel that follows the 5 princesses of the Crescent Empire, which ressembles - although rather vaguely - Revolutionary Russia.

Now I know a thing or two about the Russian revolution, b
Aug 07, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya-books, fantasía
This book has a creative lore. It was not fully developed, but I enjoyed the descriptions of the Crescent Empire, and the setting of this Russian-inspired magical society.

Because The five daughters of the moon is based on the history of the Romanov family and their fall down from grace, you can anticipate what is to come in this fantasy retelling.

I overall enjoyed the aesthetics of this novel but I thought that the story was poorly structured. Each of the five sisters has a POV explored in rotat
Charles Taylor
Aug 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Involving fantasy from a Finnish writer

As I'm attending the SF Worldcon in Helsinki, I wanted to read some Finnish fantasy and science fiction. Otherwise I wouldn't have chosen to read this book - it seems aimed at young adults. However, I'm glad I did - the author is obviously talented, and I will look out for her future books.

It is loosely based on the fate of the Romanov's after the Russian revolution, but with an injection of fantasy elements, and an invented society based on Moon worship.
Sara Norja
Dec 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Oooh this was good. I wasn't sure such a short book could successfully handle five first-person narrators, but Likitalo did it super well. The narrative voices felt distinct, and the multiple points of view - in addition to the time skips - brought a great sense of fragmentation to the book, which I think really underlined the theme of breaking up of empire. Likitalo uses unreliable narrators really neatly, too.

I love stories with sisters (being part of a three-sister family myself), and Likita
Matthew Galloway
Sep 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, novella, many-pov
I struggled to rate this one. It's beautifully written and the five POV characters are nicely distinct. I didn't necessarily love all the characters, but that's fine. Plus, even only getting two chapters a piece, most of them have good character growth. My problem is that this does't feel like a complete book to me. I've enjoyed a lot of the Tor novellas, but I think this one should have been published as a full length novel. I see that it's planned to be a duology -- so why not publish it all t ...more
May 25, 2017 rated it liked it
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I admit that I am always intrigued by stories regaring the Romanovs. How not to be? There are so many mysteries surrounding them. A tragic story that continues to haunt us today. As soon as this novel was announced, I confess that I was very impatient to see what the author was going to propose us. How can we resist the paranormal and historical mix proposed? The cover also immediately charmed me. It is really beautiful !

Each chapter follows one of the sisters tha
Faith Rivens
Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-of-2019
The first in a duology, The Five Daughters of the Moon is a fantastical reimagining of the 1917 Russian Resolution. The Crescent Empire is threatened by insurgence and rebellion but one of the daughters might be at the heart of it.

This was a very unique book, beautifully written. The cold world of snow and danger leapt off the page with vivid descriptions. The magic in the world , the power of naming days, the stealing of souls, the peril of mesmerization all made for the creation of a wonderful
Ally Kumari
Jul 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
Of all the Romanov-related and Anastasia-inspired books, this one is possibly my favourite. Exactly because it takes the inspiration, but not the exact story, and the parallels are not obviously drawn, neither forced into every page. I loved that the author captured the sense of looming threat and danger that can be felt, even if it is not understood in its true magnitude (or even detailed origin). There is a sense of isolation and loneliness, as well as palpable relationship ties between the ch ...more
Jun 08, 2020 rated it liked it
This one was hard for me to rate. While I love Russian folklore, and reading about the Romonovs, this was not my favorite. I thought it was beautifully written, but the characters just weren't very likable. I didn't really like the magic either. I liked the writing style, but not enough to continue with the series. Like I said, I had trouble with this rating. I'm feeling generous.
Miriam Williams
Aug 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Started slow, but I loved how it was structured & it ended up being quite compelling. Looking forward to the sequel. ...more
Lia Cooper
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
An interesting imperial fantasy almost steampunk inspired by turn of the century Russian revolution/Romanov family. interesting little read i'll definitely pick up the sequel
Sep 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was just amazing. Brings history to life before your very eyes in a magical and also eerie way. There's so much life and personality to the main sisters and it just has so much gorgeous potential. I am so thrilled for the sequel because there is so much ripe promises within these pages.
full review:
Suzanne Rooyen
Okay, this was an odd one. I didn't love it - but then I'm not a huge fan of historical novels in general. This was meant to be a fantasy - and it did have fantastical elements - but I felt that it was really a historical retelling with fantasy elements rather than the epic fantasy with historical elements I was hoping for.

I started this not knowing anything about the Romanov sisters. Some Googling revealed their story to me, and if this duology is going to be historically accurate, well then I
Nov 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
There's a fascinating new trend in YA in which books that I would consider to be straight up fantasy are filed under the historical fiction genre because- get this- they're based off a real culture or country or period in history. The Walled City is one I can think of off the top of my head. Or basically all the new releases on the 2018 YA historical fiction releases lists. Usually, I have avoid this subgenre because I'm not interested in fantasy. I've never been particularly captured by it, eve ...more
Eva Müller
Nov 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, audiobooks
This review can also be found on my blog.

I rarely say this, especially about fantasy novels but: This book would have been better if it had been longer. Especially the chapters featuring the oldest sister, Elise and Celestia, just throw important information at us at lightning speed. By the time of their first POV-chapters, many important parts of their story have already happened and all we get are flashbacks to those events. In addition to the things that are currently happening of course. In
Areli Amaya
Jul 31, 2019 rated it it was ok
The Crescent Empire is growing restless and there are those who will see the Empress fall; armed with the power to destroy that which fuels humanity, the daughters of the moon will have to come together in order to save the future from certain ruination.
Each daughter is as different and vast as the world, and they all play a very important role, but a darkness will soon envelop everything the sisters have known and send their lives spiraling into grief.
I will go ahead and do something I have ne
Bridget Mckinney
Aug 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Jacqueline Carey's cover blurb for The Five Daughters of the Moon calls the book "a lyrical elegy to the fall of an empire," and the book description is clear that this duology is inspired by the 1917 Russian revolution and the final days of the Romanov sisters, so you must know going in that this story doesn't have a happy ending. In alternating chapters told in first person from the perspective of each of the titular five daughters--ranging in age from six to twenty-two--Leena Likitalo brings ...more
Apr 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
It's exciting to me to see how many authors are out there writing Russian-themed fantasy. "The Five Daughters of the Moon" is a recent addition to this sub-genre.

The setting is clearly an allusion to the Russian Empire just prior to the 1917 Revolution, but the setting and the plot are just that: allusions. Readers familiar with the history of the period will enjoy seeing a story that is recognizable but not merely a rehash of what actually happened. There's a Rasputin figure and an embattled mo
Apr 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2019
2.5/5 This book was confusing and not all at the same time. So this is a fantasy based around the Romanov sisters at the time of the revolution. Now I've read a decent amount about the revolution, and not many people really focus on the children, so you really have a lot to play with.

Let's start with the things I enjoyed. The way the fantasy was woven through the revolution setting was good. I enjoyed a couple of the characters, some of them were honestly really annoying. It was a very unique,
Nthato Morakabi
May 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
A really beautiful and poignant tale.

Told through the perspective of each of the sisters, The Five Daughters of the Moon is a story of family, betrayal, loyalty and loss. About a kingdom on the brink of destruction and one man orchestrating its downfall through manipulation, deceit and fear.

Each sister's perspective draws in their unique personalities and gifting. Little Alina who is far more perceptive than her sisters think and sometimes, want to admit. Merile thinks too much of herself, too c
Aug 20, 2017 rated it liked it
The world of the impresses immediately. From the first chapter, the steam-punk Russian world, with its empire on the edge of rebellion, is vividly presented, and lyrically expressed. Many passages, particularly at the start of the book, were impressively beautiful, especially considering that this is a debut novel from someone writing in a second language.

The story is interestingly structured, with each chapter being presented from the perspective of one of the titular daughters of the moon. Ea
Nov 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, fantasy, history
This is not quite historical fiction, but a fantasy novel with a semi-historical setting (Russia, in the last days of the Romanovs).

Each of the five daughters has a vivid personality of her own, yet remains feeling "true" to her time-- and that stands out amongst the recent historical novels that I've read. Many authors feel compelled to write strong modern female characters in historical drag. Likitalo's Daughters of the Moon are strong, yet convincing as women belonging to a past era, with al
Aug 18, 2018 rated it liked it
First part of a duology, The Five Daughters of the Moon sets the stage for a historical fantasy story inspired by imperial Russia.

The chapters are divided between the stories told from the five daughter's viewpoints, which takes the story forward in character sections. Sometimes I felt there was not enough difference between the five sisters (aged between 6-22), but the narrative held together and the story flowed onward. Russian mysticism with a hint of magic made this story interesting enough
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Leena Likitalo hails from Finland, the land of endless summer days and long, dark winter nights. She lives with her husband on an island at the outskirts of Helsinki, the capital. But regardless of her remote location, stories find their way to her and demand to be told.

While growing up, Leena struggled to learn foreign languages. At sixteen, her father urged her to start reading in English, and t

Other books in the series

The Waning Moon (2 books)
  • The Sisters of the Crescent Empress (The Waning Moon, #2)

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