FeaturedYoung Adult Fantasy



Loved it! 😍

Fast-paced fantasy with a compelling cast of paranormal ne'er do-wells who must escape from a "para pen" (paranormal jail) in Italy.

Jess is a foster child who has been plagued her entire life with rage blackouts. Something happens, she gets angry, she does something to escalate the situation, and ends up with no memory of the situation. Because of her poor anger management, she has been shuffled from foster home to foster home her entire life. This cycle repeats until one evening, something horrible happens, only this time, Jess is placed in lockdown. Not in a mental health center; not even in a jail - at least not one she would recognize. Jess ends up in a "para pen," a prison for individuals with paranormal skills who have broken the law.

Jess is accused of being a shifter - a shapeshifter - who killed a human, but Jess doesn't even know what a "shifter" is. The only thing she knows from experience is that she can't trust anyone. But the value of her previous experience is hard to judge in this new world of shifters, fae, vampires, and witches, and Jess has to find allies when not just her freedom but her safety become jeopardized.

While there were aspects of Luna that were reminiscent of other authors (Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga comes to mind because of the werewolf / vampire mix and the forest setting), there were certainly enough unique qualities (foster child, emphasis on nature, Italian setting) to make it an independently worthy story.

I was particularly impressed with Else's character palette. Her characters have unique and well-thought out personalities with quirks and idiosyncrasies not seen in every book, every time. The gender balance is equal, and the lines between good and evil are realistically fuzzy (at least, they are blurred enough to keep things interesting). Fitting in is a main theme in this as in many YA novels. Jess had a hard time in her foster homes, and doesn't quite mesh in this one, either. Yet she does manage to make friends, as in this early scene in which Jess and a fae named Astra were getting to know one another:

Astra rolled her shoulder forwards, grimacing as she did so. "Sorry, I need to stretch my wings." She stood up and stepped lightly between the main sofa area and the one at the window, then unfolded her wings. Their span was at least double Astra's height, which was about five foot. The petite girl with her wings unfurled suddenly looked much more intimidating. Jess gazed with admiration at the sheen of her black feathers, lustrous in the artificial strip lighting.

"There's not enough room in my cell," Astra added, throwing a look back at Jess. "You wouldn't believe how much I miss flying."

Jess smiled. "If it's anything like I miss running through the woods, I get you."

I do wish Else had slowed down with some of the series-specific terminology at times, or provided a glossary. I found myself having to flip back and forth to make sure I understood what was meant by such terms as "the Between" or "sluagh," (and others) and I'm really still not sure I grasp the finer points of what exactly one of the paranormal creatures did to the main character. That having been said, the flow was generally good and readers of the genre will be excited to see where the series goes.

I would recommend Luna: Dark Between Series to fans of Italian history or mythology in general, who will enjoy seeing some of their overlooked long-dead friends (Romulus & Remus, the sidhe) come to life in this work, or to fans of contemporary paranormal fantasy in general. Overall, this is a strong beginning work deserving of four stars, strongly recommended in the genre.

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I have numerous interests, from history to mystery, science to kids. I am a retired MD - a transplant left me with time for family, friends, faith, fun, fiction, film, & furry companions. For direct submissions, pls let me know why you're requesting me. Use FB or my em, julia.hoover1@gmail.com :) .

Castle Of Crap

About the author

Rae Else is an Urban Fantasy author, most at home in the spaces between reality and the imaginary. She lives with her husband in Plymouth. When not reading or writing, Rae loves to scuba dive and sail. She finds the big blue to be like a good book - a portal to a different world. view profile

Published on September 05, 2021

80000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

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