Review: Moonglow (Darkest London 02) by Kristen Callihan

Official synopsis (from Goodreads):

Once the seeds of desire are sown . . .Finally free of her suffocating marriage, widow Daisy Ellis Craigmore is ready to embrace the pleasures of life that have long been denied her. Yet her new-found freedom is short lived. A string of unexplained murders has brought danger to Daisy’s door, forcing her to turn to the most unlikely of saviors . . .

Their growing passion knows no bounds . . .
Ian Ranulf, the Marquis of Northrup, has spent lifetimes hiding his primal nature from London society. But now a vicious killer threatens to expose his secrets. Ian must step out of the shadows and protect the beautiful, fearless Daisy, who awakens in him desires he thought long dead. As their quest to unmask the villain draws them closer together, Daisy has no choice but to reveal her own startling secret, and Ian must face the undeniable truth: Losing his heart to Daisy may be the only way to save his soul.

My synopsis (in the style of dear Blodeuedd):

A happy young widow, Daisy Ellis Craigmore, meets a new love interest who happens to be also a werewolf…oups, sorry, lycan, and an aristocrat from Scotland. They have smexy times and in-between they have to defeat another evil werewolf who is killing people on the streets. And they will marry, be sure of it. Everybody marries in the end, right?

My impressions:

I read this one mainly because Rameau, my lovely blogging partner, had been praising it to heaven in her review. Unfortunately my own impressions were diametrically different and so I was forced to put them in writing. Eh, life.

As I started reading Moonglow, the second book of the series, the first thing that I noticed were the names of werewolves, taken straight from the Parasol Protectorate/Alexia Tarrabotti series penned by Gail Carriger. Imagine that: both series belong to, roughly, the same genre so are bound to attract, roughly, readers with similar tastes. They are both set in Victorian London and include Scottish werewolves. Both series’ important werewolf characters are called Connall, Lyall and Maccon. I admit each time I encoutnered them in Callihan’s book I wondered  whether it is actually acceptable to steal so many names of the same magical creatures from another series and get away with it. Perhaps it is but it left me slightly angry. Is it so difficult to think of your own names? A writer is supposed to be creative after all, right?

As I am already mentioning the werewolves and lycans I have to admit the mythology and world build concerning those creatures were extremely weak. Some crucial aspects were never explained or not explained  enough.  Why were female lycans and weres so rare? If they as a species reproduce so infrequently how come there were so many of them inhabiting just one city, London? Are they homosexual by nature? Then how does the breed survive? Why doesn’t the bite of a werewolf turn a human? And if the bite is so weak, how could a disease be passed so easily? Irrelevant questions? And yet plenty of other paranormal fantasy authors, Ms.Carriger among them, managed to answer them in a far more satisfactory manner.

Now the plot. The story was very weak, unoriginal and too passive most of the time. Too much of it was too obvious and predictable – I managed to see two of the key twists long before they happened.  A little more authorial sleight-of-hand to camouflage the clues would’ve gone a long way. Long stretches of boredom (read: skimming almost entire chapters)  permeated my one-evening read of the novel as entire sections were filled with the annoying back and forth of the main character, with absolutely no plot advancement. Other elements just felt stuffed in quite  randomly, like the GIMs, once again a cheeky loan from Ms Carriger’s series. What’s worse the GIMs didn’t serve any real purpose til the end, seeming just a spur-of-the-moment steal…er…adddition.

Finally let me rant a bit about the romance story arc. Or rather, let’s be honest, smut. Bad smut. Ian and Daisy, two experienced adutls, act as if they were two horny teenagers experimenting with their sex drive for the first time and left completely wihtout any supervision. Oh, and they know there will be no witnesses and no consequences. I was essentially bashed over my head with their ‘romance’, including several extremely lengthy sex scenes which actually never went anywhere and just left me rolling my eyes (I skipped this and that but I did check the final conclusion). Then, after a second plot twist, came that glorious and, I must say, decisive lapse of logic and reason SPOILER highlight to read or skipCan anyone explain to me why Daisy, finding out she was infected with syphilis, 1) kept having nonstop sex with Ian who could have been infected as well?  2) How getting a golden clockwork heart was going to help the situation in any way whatsoever?!? 3) What does a heart transplant have to do with curing syphilis or any other STD? Help, help, my brain is evaporating!

Final verdict:

I feel cheated, I feel disapointed and angry. It was supposed to be good and it was dramatically bad. There wasn’t one bit of originality in Moonglow – nothing to save my evening.  The cover is good *snif, snif*, still I want a refund.


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7 Responses to Review: Moonglow (Darkest London 02) by Kristen Callihan

  1. heidenkind says:

    Oh dear. Has Rameau read Gail Carriger? I had major issues with those books so a watered down version probably wouldn’t work for me.

    • Yes she has. Whether she remembers anything is quite another issue. ;p

      • rameau says:

        I have and I remember thinking Carriger’s worldbuilding falling apart as the series progressed. The details, however, are a little hazy. It was probably the alpha face that had Carriger contradicting herself…that I can still remember.

        As for Callihan, I think I was still riding the Firelight high when I wrote the review for Moonglow because I’ve not picked another book by her since.

  2. blodeuedd says:

    So bad, lovely 😉

  3. rameau says:

    Excuse me what? Praising it to heaven? Just because I don’t latch on to every single criticism I’m not praising a book to high heaven.

    Anyway, I focused on the improved, more “polished”, writing at the time because I was disappointed with the turn Callihan took. Firelight even with all its problems read like something new, original, and raw. Moonglow didn’t quite live up to that feeling but the third book looked promising. Not promising enough to get me to actually read it though. Damn.

    I give up. You win. This book SUCKS!

    • And here I was hoping for a good row with my blogging partner *pouts*. If I can’t argue with you then let me argue with your review.

      “Truth is I’m jealous of Callihan’s imagination. She’s taking these known myths and legends and making them hers with an unexpected twist. She’s always surprising me, which isn’t easy to do these days. (…)
      Overall, Moonglow is more polished a novel than Firelight and the raw talent it showed. I could see Callihan’s growth as a writer on the page.”

      If somebody like you writes something like that about a book I call it “praising to heaven”. And it’s not about winning or losing. It’s about a mature, interesting, acute and cogent book discussion. *starts throwing cushions at her opponents*

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