Review by Shellie for Moth and Spark by Anne Leonard.
Shellie’s quick take: A detailed and romantic epic fantasy which features intelligent dragons and magic.
Shellie’s description: In a place that feels almost medieval, Prince Corin, heir to the throne, and a beautiful commoner named Tam meet by chance in his castle’s library. She is at the capital city and in the castle in hopes of finding a husband. It is love at first sight. However, he cannot marry someone of such low standing so they try to keep their attraction secret - at first. They know that it is only a matter of time before the castle’s courtiers find out that they are together. Both fear that the court’s petty jealousies and deep rivalries will create problems for Tam, since it is the etiquette of the time that women remain chaste until married.
But there is trouble in the land. War is coming to the peaceful city of Caithen and both Tam and Corin will have a part to play if it is to remain peaceful. Corin must heed the call to free the dragons, which have been enslaved by an evil emperor, while Tam, who doesn’t realize her gifts, must help him. With loads of romance the drama unfolds – with the struggle against war and for the freedom of the dragons.
Shellie’s thoughts: This is Anne Leonard’s debut novel, but it doesn’t show since it’s a readable story with excellent details. I was immersed in the story from the very first few pages. She’s included political intrigue, courtier back stabbing, violent darkness, human insight, detailed description of hair and dressing, and intelligent and beautiful dragons. All fun stuff in fantasy (especially for women).
The publisher has done a fabulous job on the gorgeous covers for both US and UK versions of the book. Onscreen it’s hard to see the iridescent details for the moths that are on the cover of the US version, but they are lovely.
My only complaint about the novel is that there is A LOT of “mushy” romance, especially in the last two thirds of the novel. There was, in fact, one love scene which made me roll my eyes and laugh (not a good thing); I will not share any details but it was that ridiculous. So I would recommend that a potential reader really love romance.
As for other recommendations, because the setting is so similar to a European medieval world, I think it would be a decent read for someone who loves historical romance; also perhaps for readers who are interested in trying out fantasy, since this story is very accessible; and for long-term fantasy fans who would like to read some lighter fantasy. I would say that it’s a book for women rather than men since there is so much romance and dress and hair style information in the story. I give this book a 3.5 stars.
Hardbound | 384 pages | 20 Feb 2014 | Viking Adult
Top cover picture is for the US hardbound edition and the lower cover picture is for the UK paperbound edition. We also have a terrific question and answer post from Anne Leonard courtesy of the publisher if you’re interested.
Anne Leonard lives in Northern California. She has degrees from St. John’s College, the University of Pittsburgh, Kent State University, and University of California-Hastings College of Law. MOTH AND SPARK is her first novel.