October seems like a great month to read a fantasy with were-animals and vampires and McKenzie Hunter’s Moon Tortured has both! Let’s start with the usual book basics before diving into readers’ reviews and my thoughts.
Moon Tortured by McKenzie Hunter
Book 1 of 7 in the completed Sky Brooks series
Published: May 11, 2014
Amazon ratings: 2,022; 4.2 avg
Goodreads ratings: 5,957; 3.73 avg
1st person POV; female lead
Nothing is ever what it seems—including me. The Midwest Pack has three goals: Protect the pack. Protect the pack. And yeah, protect the pack. I have my own goal: Live a simple life and hope no one ever discovers that the quiet young woman next door turns into a wolf. All my efforts go up in flames when a vampire attack draws the attention of the Midwest Pack. The next thing I know, I’m staring down Ethan, a handsome and alluring alpha, as he demands to know what I am. Not who. What. The pack was warned that I’m not just a werewolf but a weapon—one that could be used against them. A weapon? Me? I’d love to dismiss it as a case of mistaken identity, but I’ve become the supernaturals’ Most Wanted overnight. The vampires have put a bounty on my head. A necromancer attempts to kill me in a room full of people. And a mysterious witch is watching me far too closely for comfort. The only thing standing between me and certain death is the pack, but we’re definitely not on the same page. I want to lie low, go back to my typical life, and live to fight another day, while their MO is “seek, confront, and destroy.” And depending on the answers we find, the enemy they destroy … might be me.
As usual, I reviewed many of the 1-star reviews to see what most readers disliked. A lot of the reviews were for people who DNF’d (did not finish) the book. However, we do see the usual complaints:
- Flat, unlikeable characters
- Boring plot
- Not a romance
I’m definitely a reader who needs to cheer for the MC and, I’m not going to lie, Skylar made it difficult. She made some stupid decisions and then she repeated them. As this is 1st person, we get to see why she’s making these choices which did make me like her a bit more. She is out of college and had a job, but Skylar reads young and one Amazon category is NA/ YA.
We only get Sky’s POV, but there any number of additional characters that play pivotal roles. There’s actually a rush of introductions at the beginning which I found a little confusing. However, I did connect to some of the characters as I continued to read. I kinda like Sky and am intrigued by a few other characters…
I was genuinely interested in the plot even more so than the characters. The plot is tied up in the world building which also interested me. Some readers also criticized the world building as slow and/ or nonexistent. I like the trope of the MC learning about a magical world – it is usually developed more slowly since we learn as they learn. This doesn’t work for all readers, but it works for me.
As I mentioned, there are some many other characters. Part of the plot/ world building is the types of were-animals, magic users, and vamps. I very much liked that the Pack was comprised of different types of shifters and definitely wanted to know more, but let’s get back to the plot!
The actual plot mystery here is Sky and learning how she fits into those existing dynamics. I thought it developed in an interesting way, but it did take some time to get there. Sky’s mistakes seemed to leave her and the plot floundering a bit.
Also, part of this problem is the writing style. It is a little messy with some transitions leaving me to flip back to make sure I didn’t miss something. I readily admit to skipping/ scanning while reading, but other readers also noted the issue in their reviews so I wanted to share that.
Not a romance
I’m always unsure about these things as a reader and will tackle this again in the writer section. Several reviews noted it didn’t deliver on the romance and they aren’t wrong. I’m not sure what categories they saw, but when I checked it was simply fantasy categories. However, anytime I see a male mentioned by name in a blurb as Ethan was, I do assume there’s some romance.
There’s not – not really.
This is only book 1 though. I will admit I checked the other book blurbs and it seems romance does develop but it doesn’t seem to be the main plot. If you’re looking for a romantic fantasy read, I wouldn’t go with this one.
Reader warning: gore/ violence. A few reviewers noted the violence of the Packs and that it wasn’t explained or necessary. That didn’t really register for me. I typically only note/ loathe violence when it’s against kids or animals.
Overall, I’d give this one 3 stars. It’s not going to top my favorites lists, but I have kept the series on my TBR pile. Again though, it is the world that has captured my interest more than the individual characters. I am curious about the details that were glossed over in this book. That doesn’t mean I’ll get explanations, but the author gave me just enough to want more. I am hopeful that the characters develop a bit more along with the writing. Depending on what you are looking for, this is a completed series and make work as a binge read for you.
Also, it appears the author is writing a companion series from Ethan’s POV. For romance, I do prefer to get both MCs’ viewpoints in the same book. I do appreciate the effort to round out the reader experience, but I’m not sure how much information is repeated in his books. If you’ve read them and want to share, please be sure to comment.
Of course, I’d love to hear other readers’ thoughts so please always feel free to comment! I’ll now switch gears to chat from the writing side. If you’d like, skip down to the cute kitty picture for the US Amazon link for this month’s read and next month’s as well.
As writers, we are just as concerned about characters and plot as readers. We do have a slightly different viewpoint though and I’d like to start this chat with the blurb.
Have you seen the discussions of whether your blurb needs to be in the same POV as your book? I do actually prefer that; however, I’ve seen more experienced and successful authors say that isn’t necessary. I do think it sets the stage for reader expectations…such as romance.
Most readers aren’t going to check the categories despite the care we take in selecting them. They are likely to read the blurbs.
To me, Moon Tortured’s blurb reads like the book for better or worse. It’s in first person and a little rambling. I actually corrected some spacing issues in the copy above and there are a few weird formatting/ grammar issues in the books.
Again, as it names only one other character and calls him ‘handsome and alluring’, I did assume there was a romance. I wasn’t the only reader who had such expectations.
Have you checked to see what expectations you’re encouraging in your blurb? I found it helpful to check successful books that had similar elements as mine. For example, if you have multiple POVs as I do, check Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows for inspiration.
This brings me to another writer POV point – reading isn’t just for pleasure for us. In order to find comparable book blurbs as well as author names for marketing, we need to read in our genres. I haven’t always seen the wisdom of this advice and have mentioned this in previous Book Chats. Imposter syndrome and fear of plagiarizing are real. I think we still need to read in our genres. Reading in general is always good, but we need to understand our readers’ expectations and experiences.
This monthly Book Chat format has worked beautifully to inspire my reading. I have certainly learned more about myself as a reader and a writer with each book. That knowledge helps me in so many ways on and off the pages. If you’d like to try your hand at it, comment or send me a message about a fantasy book you’d like to review here as a guest post and we’ll discuss it!
Expanding your existing world
As noted above, the author has a companion series in progress. Do you have plans to expand your existing world? I think it’s a smart marketing strategy. It is something I’m working on myself and I also find it fun and interesting. I get to have character crossovers, foreshadowing, and Easter eggs which are some of my favorite things to write. I truly don’t expect readers to get all of that, but those are the parts I still write just for me! It does require more notes to ensure I maintain world building details so if you are just starting, a little organization at the beginning does go a long way!
For now, it’s time to bring this Chat to an end.
I can’t believe we only have 2 months left for 2022! Have you read all of this year’s Book Chat reads – here’s a LINK to find the all! What do you think we should read in 2023? I’d love to get your suggestions so don’t be shy!
Until next time, happy reading and writing to all!
Not all pictures go well, but Darcy is too cute not to share!