Review: Moonless (Maiden of Time, #1) by Crystal Collier

Moonless (Maiden of Time, #1) by Crystal Collier

Publisher: Raybourne Publishing
Released: November 13th 2013
Format: Ebook
Source: Review copy provided by author
Moonless is Jane Eyre meets Supernatural.

In the English society of 1768 where women are bred to marry, unattractive Alexia, just sixteen, believes she will end up alone. But on the county doorstep of a neighbor’s estate, she meets a man straight out of her nightmares, one whose blue eyes threaten to consume her whole world—especially later when she discovers him standing over her murdered host in the middle of the night.

Among the many things to change for her that evening are: her physical appearance—from ghastly to breathtaking, an epidemic of night terrors predicting the future, and the blue-eyed man’s unexpected infusion into her life. Not only do his appearances precede tragedies, but they are echoed by the arrival of ravenous, black-robed wraiths on moonless nights.

Unable to decide whether he is one of these monsters or protecting her from them, she uncovers what her father has been concealing: truths about her own identity, about the blue-eyed man, and about love. After an attack close to home, Alexia realizes she cannot keep one foot in her old life and one in this new world. To protect her family she must either be sold into a loveless marriage, or escape with the man of her dreams and risk becoming one of the Soulless.
Jane Eyre meets supernatural? Holy carp, count me in! 

Those were my first thoughts when Ms Collier told me about her novel, and with Jane Eyre being one of my favourite classics, I knew I had to read Moonless.

However, don't expect Moonless to be a retelling of Jane Eyre. Collier spins her own tale with only hints of similarities between both novels—a (seemingly) plain heroine, a mysterious, charismatic love interest and a romance set in the 18th century.

Plotwise, this novel is not that strong. I was questioning why things were happening, and I found what Collier attempted to explain about the Passionate and the Soulless to be vague. It was like she was speaking a language only she as the author herself knew very well because I couldn't get what she was trying to convey for me to piece smaller scenes into the big picture. Perhaps it would have been better if a full history of the Passionate and Soulless were given. 

Additionally, the pacing was very slow. It was a long while before Alexia found out about who and/or what she was. Many times I wished that Collier could have given more information on why something happened, but I was left wondering. Because of this, I found Sarah and Bellezza's behaviour confusing and inconsistent. Sarah's identity was revealed quite late into the novel and she didn't really seem to fit her role even in the beginning. Bellezza's motive was unclear to me and I found myself second-guessing what she was even though it had been stated earlier. 

Despite all of the aforementioned points, I eventually realised that what made Moonless so worth reading were Alexia and Kiren. If anything at all, I believe that Moonless' strongest points are its main characters and their romance. The love story between Kiren and Alexia kept me going even though I was unclear about the big picture, such as the war between the Passionate and the Soulless.

We see Alexia trying to grapple with her world changing so much, ghastly nightmares and the presence of Kiren in her life. She's young, innocent and curious. I really like how she has the guts to explore the unknown and discover the truth. She's a character who grows to realise that she can be in control of her life unlike what society dictates. On a side note, I truly think Collier chose the most suitable time period for her novel as it served several conflicts well, such as Alexia's father pressuring her to marry (although Robert could've been introduced earlier to set up the business trouble).

Also, I like the unique powers each of the Passionate has. You only really discover this later on in the book, so be patient—not to mention especially why this series is called Maiden of Time.

Collier's writing style is full of sensory details:
His skin radiated a brilliance from within, sleeves rolled back to reveal half of his forearms—well formed.
And this is probably the best simile in the book:
He moved past without acknowledging her presence. It was like standing in the sun, but not feeling it on your skin.
Gotta love Emma.
However, there are instances where her language seems excessive:
A hand landed overtop of hers, calming in essences, devastating in the longing it instilled.
They consumed her, igniting a fire within her breast—an irrational hunger for the tremor in his arm against her back, the heat of his side against hers, the feel of his hand vacillating ever so slightly...
Or maybe it's just me.

Anyway, I definitely learnt some smashin', sophisticated words from this book. Take vacillating for example – synonyms for it would be hesitating and fluctuating. And putrescence – that means undergoing a process of rotting or decaying. Now I have more fancy words to add to my vocab ;)
The perks of reading a novel set in the 18th century.
And Kiren. KIREN. Need I say more?! That blue-eyed hunk is just perfect for Alexia. One thing I loved about their relationship was how he restrained himself from getting too close to her because it would endanger her life, but didn't give a starfish about that afterward—he loved her too much. It wasn't an Edward-Bella kind of "I gotta stay away from you because I'm too dangerous" thing. There were moments when Collier switched from Alexia's POV to Kiren's, and you could totally feel their longing for each other before they got together and Alexia's so tormented and THERE'S JUST SO MUCH HEARTACHE. Ugh. I felt ALL of it. And here's why I totally ship them:
She shivered and he took each of her arms, rubbing them for warmth...
"I have not kissed you yet today."
"No, you have not."
"Is that pardonable?"
She grinned. "Barely."
He remedied the situation graciously.
He set a chair next to the playful flames and pulled her down onto his lap.
... she gasped. 

His arms wound about her, lips hovering at her ear.
"Are you sufficiently warm?"

By all that was proper and good, she should give his cheek a good slap and flee, but she couldn't do it. She snuggled up against his chest.
Oh yes, there is also a fair amount of kissing in this book. It still qualifies as clean in my opinion, though! 

Read Moonless for its 18th-century romance. Read it for its amazing main characters. I will be eagerly awaiting the sequel, Soulless, in which I hope Collier divulges more history about the Passionate and Soulless. And Alexia and Kiren, of course ;)

Crystal CollierCrystal Collier, author of Moonless, is a former composer/writer for Black Diamond Productions. She can be found practicing her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, three littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese.

Connect with Crystal: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

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