By Moonrise (The Chronicles of Sarducia #1)
by Jackie Dana.
By Moonrise is the first novel by Austin author Jackie Dana. It follows the adventures of ordinary Kate Norton, who finds herself transported to a strange world after inheriting her mother’s ring. Sarducia may seem like a medieval Europe at first glance, but it is a different world entirely. For starters, magic is not only very real, but a bit of a political issue. Everything seems to be a political issue, actually, as Kate finds herself sucked into the turmoil of a country dealing with religious and regal unrest. Figuring out how and why she’s in Sarducia, and how to get home, might have to take a backseat to survival.
As you might guess from that description, By Moonrise is a fantasy adventure story, complete with political intrigue, magical doings, and a dash of romance. I’m a bit torn on how to review this, honestly. On the one hand, I liked it. It was entertaining enough for an easy ready, and some of the supporting characters were nicely nuanced and interesting. I would genuinely pick up book 2 to see what happens.
On the other hand, there were a lot of issues with it. Kate as the heroine mostly fell flat for me. The book blurb on Goodreads led me to believe she would be feisty and stubborn, but more often than not she just let herself be dragged or sent from one place to another by whoever she was with at the time. And I found her follow-through on demanding answers disappointing. She was not proactive enough for me, and didn’t really do much over the course of the book.
Aside from that, reading this sometimes felt like going down a Fantasy Novel Checklist. Weird words for royal titles? Check. Obvious romantic interest-to-be? Check. Haven’t had a swordfight yet, so let’s put one here? Check. Kate discovers her heritage isn’t what she thought it was? Check. It wasn’t boring, and I realize a lot of this is just genre standard, but it made the story predictable in many ways. I was unsurprised by both of the reveals at the end.
I am curious to know more about Sarducia and Kate’s particular history, though. So it’s a successful book in that it did draw me in and make me interested in the world and story. And it’s loads better than many first novels I’ve read. I look forward to book 2.