{review} Secrets of Moldara by Brianne Earhart

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Circle the moon and cross the tide
Beyond the waterfall, protectors hide
Leave the last secret at their door
And they will defend you evermore.”

Disclaimer: Thank you so much to the author and to Myth Machine for sending me this book to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Spoiler Free Review

I was super excited when Myth Machine approached me to review this book. I immediately fell in love with the gorgeous cover and couldn’t wait to photograph it! Plus, this book was described as a YA romantic fantasy adventure and also as Twilight meets Game of Thrones, which sounds exactly like the kind of book I love reading! Unfortunately, this book didn’t quite hit the mark for me. Let’s break down what I loved and didn’t love about this book:

What I loved:

  • Obviously, I am absolutely obsessed with this beautiful cover. I love the shades of blue and grey and think the illustration looks very well done. I know this is probably blasphemous to say as a reader and a librarian, but I unapologetically judge books by their covers. If a book has an ugly or dated cover, you’re really going to have a hard time convincing me to give it a fair shot. If I don’t like the cover, I’m probably not going to pick up the book at all.
  • The main character, Lotty, wasn’t afraid to mix it up with the boys. She was not weak, and though she did have her flaws, she was pretty fierce! I also loved that she was a skilled archer. You may not know this about me (unless you follow me on insta), but my first YA true love is The Hunger Games trilogy. Mostly because I’m madly in love with Peeta, but also because Katniss is freaking amazing. Sure, she has her issues, but she doesn’t back down from a challenge. I feel like Lotty and Katniss would be good friends.
  • I liked the mystery element of this book. I wasn’t expecting so much of the backstory to be mysterious, but I enjoyed having a bit of mystery mixed in with the elements of fantasy and the real world. It certainly kept me questioning what I thought I knew and I felt like I was making discoveries right alongside Lotty.
  • The end of the book certainly left me curious about what will happen next!

What I didn’t love (this might be vaguely spoiler-y, but I don’t include specifics):

  • Honestly, my first dislike is just really unfortunate. It’s not the author’s fault that I’m a reader who detests insta-love, but here we are. Nothing makes me want to immediately DNF a book quite like the inclusion of insta-love. Here’s what happens when Lotty and her love interest meet for the very first time: “…and I smacked into someone’s bare chest…my body started to tingle, tendrils of pleasure curling around my middle as the desire to step closer, to know what his breath would feel like in my lungs, overwhelmed me.” And with that, we have a textbook example of insta-love. On the one hand, Lotty definitely makes it easy to remember she’s 17, because I can’t imagine someone any older than 17 wanting to make out with someone they just met. But on the other hand, I can’t say that I’ve ever desired to know what someone’s “breath would feel like in my lungs“…even as a hormone-driven 17 year old. What does that even mean? Idk man, idk.
  • I can’t decide if this book was over-edited or if it wasn’t edited enough. If punctuation distracts me while I’m reading a book, we’ve definitely got some issues. Again, this could just be me personally (because I was an English major and was formerly an English teacher), but distracting punctuation is a huge turnoff. Example: every single time I recommend Throne of Glass to someone, I warn them about the overuse of exclamation marks in book 1 and promise that punctuation gets better as the series progresses. I heard an author say (I think it was Leigh Bardugo?) that you should really only have one exclamation mark per chapter, unless you have a super compelling reason as to why you need more. And I think this “rule” is so important. Think about it, if you wrote out the dialogue of your day, how many exclamation marks would you use? Probably not that many. And yet almost every time someone spoke in this book, the sentence was punctuated with an exclamation mark. After I began to find them distracting, I started checking each page for their use and rarely did I come across a page that didn’t have an exclamation mark. Like with S.J. Maas, I think Earhart’s writing will get better as she continues to publish, but you can definitely tell this is her first published book.
    • Continuing with this thought, I also found comma usage to be problematic. While not every comma was used incorrectly, I again found myself distracted by how many commas were used in this book. The abundance of comma use cause many sentences to be structured the same exact way and while this isn’t wrong, it was certainly distracting. So you don’t think that I’m crazy, here are two paragraphs from early on in the book:
    •    ¶”The small, sparsley furnished studio apartment had a thin layer of dust and a few cobwebs but, for the most part, looked ready to use. Except for the empty water troughs and broken tools stacked in one corner, I imagined that no one had been in it for years. Which did not explain the oil lamp, which say on a table in the center of the room, flickering brightly. ¶I remembered the blown glass lamp from Grandpa’s study, his favorite light to read by. All throughout my childhood, I had never seen it extinguished. Even when the summer sun shone brightly through the window, he’d never put that blue flame out. Reminded him of home, he’s said, and of my parents, and of a time and place lost to him long ago. Grandma had never pressed him about the lamp, and I assumed she’d kept it lit for the same reasons he had.”

      • Two paragraphs…and every single sentence has a comma. Are they all used correctly? Mostly. Does that make them okay? Not really. As a reader, I want sentence structure to be varied..and when it is not varied, I’m distracted by the repetition and find it easy to let my mind wander and not focus on what I’m reading.
    • One other minor thing that irked me was that I felt like the dialogue tried too hard to be casual. I know it might sound backwards, but I find characters more believable when they say full words like give me rather than gimme. Sure, we as real life people don’t always fully pronounce our words, but casual words like gimme, uh, and okaaaaay make it hard for me to invest in characters. Instead of casual dialogue making characters more relatable, it instead just reminds me that someone is writing these characters and is trying to make them believable…which isn’t good.
In summary, Secrets of Moldara certainly has a lot of potential. If you don’t mind insta-love and enjoy reading fantasy books that are set in the real world, you’ll love this book! Like with Throne of Glass, I think this series will get better and better with each book and I’m definitely interested to see where Earhart takes this story! Book two, Blood of Moldara, comes out July 1 and will continue the story right where this one left off.

 

 

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