When I hear the word ‘fantasy’, I automatically think of dragons, and my mouth starts watering. This probably stems from the fact my first foray into the fantasy genre was DragonLance. Yes, that means I broke into it a bit late in life…but the association is there nonetheless. So when Viking approached me about reviewing MOTH AND SPARK, I said yes without hesitation. How can anyone turn down these majestic, mythical creatures after all? I’m glad I did, too; MOTH AND SPARK is an epic debut and worthy of any fantasy fan’s attention.
If you are not familiar with MOTH AND SPARK, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Viking:
A prince with a quest. A commoner with mysterious powers. And dragons that demand to be freed—at any cost. Prince Corin has been chosen to free the dragons from their bondage to the Empire, but dragons aren’t big on directions. They have given him some of their power, but none of their knowledge. No one, not the dragons nor their riders, is even sure what keeps the dragons in the Empire’s control. Tam, sensible daughter of a well-respected doctor, had no idea before she arrived in the capital that she is a Seer, gifted with visions. When the two run into each other (quite literally) in the library, sparks fly and Corin impulsively asks Tam to dinner. But it’s not all happily ever after. Never mind that the prince isn’t allowed to marry a commoner: war is coming to Caithen. Torn between Corin’s quest to free the dragons and his duty to his country, the lovers must both figure out how to master their powers in order to save Caithen. With a little help from a village of secret wizards and a rogue dragonrider, they just might pull it off.
To do fantasy justice these days, a writer must have a ‘hook’…something unique that sets him or her apart from the rest of the literary pack. Author Anne Leonard does this with a unique voice and a penchant for detail. But whereas many authors bog down their prose with overly descriptive scenes, Leonard does a superb job of balancing details with action. The result is a very nice read.
MOTH AND SPARK is written well and flows smoothly as the story unfolds. The plotting moves at a brisk and even pace for the most part, however I have to confess I felt a couple of parts of the book slow down a bit much for my liking. This is easily overlooked, however, as the book launches into an epic finale that will have even the staunchest of fantasy fans on the edge of their proverbial seats.
I am particularly impressed with the characterizations in this book. Corin and Tam are believable and likable, two attributes that are obviously necessary for an interesting read. But beyond that, they are also realistic. They are not cliched stereotypes that are sometimes found in fantasy. This realism factor helps create a more immersive atmosphere and thus a more enjoyable read.
Leonard also handles the dragons in the story very well and makes them original. I am not going to get into details here because I do not want to spoil the read for you. But needless to say, she definitely knows her stuff and conveys it well on the written page.
My sole complaint about MOTH AND SPARK (and this is such a guy thing to say) is that I feel like there might be too much romance. I know, I know…typical guy remark, right? And I understand it is a key part of the story. But for my tastes, I like a smaller dose. Still, I cannot argue that it works well for this storyline.
Despite my preference for less romance, MOTH AND SPARK is an excellent novel and a heck of an addition to the fantasy genre. I recommend giving this one a look for sure. It is available now in a variety of formats.