Moondance of Stonewylde by Kit Berry

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Moondance of Stonewylde by Kit Berry

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Nigethan Sathiyalingam
Reviewed by Nigethan Sathiyalingam
Summary: Written with obvious passion, Moondance of Stonewylde is an enthralling sequel that will, almost effortlessly, entrance readers. Future books in the series will no doubt be highly anticipated.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: June 2011
Publisher: Gollancz
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0575098855

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Magus of Stonewylde left us at a crucial turning point with Yul receiving the Earth Magic at the Solstice instead of Magus. However, Moondance of Stonewylde begins with Stonewylde operating normally, and the population unaware of the significance of the previous festival. Nevertheless, even the Machiavellian Magus can't keep covering the cracks that are beginning to show in Stonewylde's community for ever, and there are subtle signs of a revolution brewing. However, things take a turn for the worse when Magus discovers a way to use Sylvie to rejuvenate his Magic, and it is up to Yul and his only other ally, the ancient Mother Heggy, to stop history from repeating itself and save the girl that he loves.

Yul is no longer a boy at total mercy to the cruelty of Magus, and with the threat of his abusive father Alwyn eliminated by Mother Heggy in satisfying manner, he is able to grow in strength and maturity, becoming the head of his household and a popular symbol for the Villagers to rally around. It is Sylvie who undergoes the most suffering in this novel, once Magus discovers that he can channel energy from the Moon into himself by using Sylvie during the full moon. The fact that the process causes intense suffering to the girl and leaves her in a comatose state for weeks after the draining is of little significance to Magus, who once more has the power to set in motion his ambitious plans for the future of Stonewylde, plans that look to further cement the divide between the Villagers and the Hallfolk.

Throughout, characters are given distinct personalities, and are well fleshed-out and believable. Magus is an especially impressive creation by Kit Berry! He is so despicable and obnoxious, yet a part of me can't help but admire the man's ability to maintain control, and sustain the image of himself as a just and generous leader. The sickening way in which he treats Sylvie as a commodity, and the crudeness of the method by which he steals her Magic make him a very provocative, and thereby effective, villain. By creating such a strong and repulsive antagonist, the author is able to effortlessly make readers root for Yul with total abandon. I was utterly immersed in the story, to such an extent that I was gleeful whenever one of the nastier characters got his/her comeuppance, and desperately hoping for things to turn out well for Yul and Sylvie.

The story continues to intrigue the reader, with a lot of mystery still enveloping some of the shadier aspects of Stonewylde and Magus. Stonewylde is a marvellous creation by Kit Berry, and is a significant part of what makes the series so enthralling; the author's depiction of the society is vivid and complex, as Stonewylde, which despite appearing to be a blissful, carefree utopia on the outside, is shown to have simmering tensions within its population and some sinister history.

Kit Berry is very liberal with her exposition and I suspect that some readers may find some of the more florid passages in the story long-winded. However, I found that the author just about maintained a balance between further developing the setting and its history, and pushing forward the drama, and the growing tensions between Yul and Magus. Tension is built up relentlessly, and the climax of the novel doesn't fail to disappoint, leaving the fate of Sylvie and Yul and all of Stonewylde precariously hanging in the balance. There are a few shocking revelations in the book, but there is still plenty yet to be resolved and explained in the rest of the series.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Younger readers might enjoy The Golden Acorn by Catherine Cooper, which also has a quaint country setting and magical aspects to it. Those who enjoyed this, the second tale set in Stonewylde, should also try The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness, which has a similarly Machiavellian antagonist and a very idiosyncratic narrative.

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