Reading level: Adult
Mass market paperback: 400 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Release date: October 30, 2012
Series: Abby Sinclair #3
Source: Review copy from Bewitching Blog Tours
Reviewed by: Jenn
Drinking from the waters of lethe and offering herself up as Faerie’s sacrificial Tithe …these just might be the least of Abby Sinclair’s problems..
Abby’s pact with a demon—whether or not she remembers making it—is binding, so she’d better count herself lucky that (in the words of a daemon who knows better) there’s nearly always a loophole. But her friends’ reckless attempts to free her, well intentioned though they may be, set off a disastrous chain of events. In no time at all, Abby turns her incubus lover mortal and gets herself killed, cursed, and married to an elven prince whose mother wants her dead. She might have even been able to recover from all that had she not lost the Key to the CrossRoads to her mortal enemy, who promptly uses his restored power to wreak havoc on the OtherWorld and put its very existence in jeopardy…
Only one person can make things right again, but to find her, Abby must place her trust in allies of mixed loyalties, and conquer her nightmares once and for all.
Reading A TRACE OF MOONLIGHT was bittersweet for me. I really enjoyed the two previous Abby Sinclair novels and so I was eager to see what Allison Pang was going to do with/to Abby and her band of friends and lovers. The author has created incredibly real and complex relationships in this trilogy and I've been on the edge of my proverbial seat waiting to find out how Abby would get herself out of the pickle she put herself in at the end of A SLIVER OF SHADOW (that whole Tithe thing in the cover copy) and if she'd settle down with Talivar or Ion. The good news? Most of the big questions are answered. The not-quite-as-good-but-definitely-not-bad news? I wasn't as hooked as I've been in previous instalments.
A TRACE OF MOONLIGHT has everything I've come to expect from an Abby Sinclair novel: an unpredictable plot, fantastically fleshed-out characters, magnificent snark, and steamy romance. (In fact, the book opens with some very steamy romance, making the excerpt below NSFW.) The cover copy actually gives away a lot of the plot points, though it doesn't hurt the reading of the story since there's so much going on in A TRACE OF MOONLIGHT. Thankfully, part of this "so much" is also a satisfying amount of resolution for a couple of the big arcs of the series: will Abby choose Ion or Talivar, and will she ever fully control her abilities as a Dreamer?
To address the first big question: I was thrilled with how Allison Pang dealt with this. I loved the way both Ion and Taliver are portrayed in A TRACE OF MOONLIGHT because they both get to shine and you can really understand why Abby has feelings for both guys. I've always been a sucker for Talivar and his tragic story (which we learn more about!!) but Ion makes some incredible gestures in this book and I felt for him in a way that I never had previously. Relationships are such a key feature of this trilogy and the author really knows how to put the reader and the characters through the ringer, not just with Abby and her men but with other folks as well. Melanie and Nobu's relationship exemplifies the word complicated and the Charlie-Robert-Moira-Benjamin situation is enough to break your heart, never mind Abby's unusual relationship with her father (and her father's with the Queen).
For the second question: I also really liked how Abby grows as a Dreamer in A TRACE OF MOONLIGHT. She's been a little afraid of her gifts for a while now but she really steps up her game this time around. It's always fun watching a favourite character come into his or her own and I feel like Abby grows immensely in A TRACE OF MOONLIGHT.
Despite this, I wasn't as invested this time around. I usually enjoy a well-written finale, which A TRACE OF MOONLIGHT definitely is, but I felt a little disconnected from the story and I'm not sure why. Allison Pang's writing remains outstanding and I truly did enjoy reading this book but it's probably my least favourite of the three Abby novels. At first I thought it might be because this book is darker than the rest and Phin is not his usual snarky self throughout but I generally enjoy dark (urban) fantasy so I don't think that this is the case. I think it might be information overload -- there's a lot of story and a ton of Big Events in A TRACE OF MOONLIGHT!
While I didn't love A TRACE OF MOONLIGHT as much as the two previous Abby novels, this book is still an excellent finale for the trilogy. I may not be shouting at the skies but I really did enjoy reading A TRACE OF MOONLIGHT and fully recommend the series to you. This novel offers closure on many of the main questions in the trilogy and leaves open the possibility of exploring the world further since there's definitely not a nice, neat bow for all of the characters. I follow Allison Pang on her blog and Twitter (some might say "stalk", but I'm sticking with "follow") and it looks like she's open to the idea of coming back to this world and telling another character's story, so I've got my fingers crossed. I believe she mentioned Melanie, who I've always been interested in, so here's hoping that passing comment comes true!