Two Moons of Sera by Pavarti K. Tyler is billed as “all the fun of YA for adults” and I would say that this assertion is absolutely true. It has all the hallmarks of YA—adventure, exploration, reinventing family, and coming to terms with self—while still engaging a more mature audience. There are quite a few wise gems, like “Gods are of no use to you and me, Serafay, they are only for those with something to pray for.” I loved this line and others like it for its surprising illumination of character.
One of the best things about this story is its rich description of setting. The characters move through the story with sand and cliff and scratchy tree, punishing sun and cooling sea. It has the effect of making the fantasy feel real. I can easily see the landscape as the characters move through it, and it gives me a grounding in reality I need to really connect with a fantasy story.
Serafay is a girl caught between two worlds. Part Erdlander, part Sualwet, she is driven to discover who she is and if there are any others like her. When she meets a strange man with very little ability to speak after living with only her mother for company, she is intrigued and excited, keeping his existence a secret from her mother. She gradually teaches him the Erdlander language and learns what it’s like to have a friend. When the Erdlander—Sualwet war comes to Sera and her new friend Tor, she must escape or risk capture by the Erdlanders who would destroy her if they discovered her secret.
Serafay is in an interesting situation, because she is a member of two races and yet wanted by neither. But far from being embittered by this, she is a sympathetic and adventurous heroine without a grudge. She’s almost a little too idealistic in that she takes to Tor right away without fear, despite her assumption that he is an Erdlander. It works well for her, though, because it makes her easier to identify with as a protagonist.
Nilafay, Serafay’s mother is my favorite of Pavarti’s characters. She is incredibly brave in bringing Sera into the world despite censure from her own people and danger from the Erdlanders. She’s also experienced a great deal of loss and had to struggle through a birth process that none of her people have gone through in over 300 years. Yet she loves her daughter without reservation, and does everything she can to keep her safe. It’s also her observations about life that keep me thinking long past finishing reading the story.
Tor is the most mysterious character to me, probably because we (and he) know so little about his backstory. I think it will be revealed as future installments continue the story, and honestly, solving his mystery is a large part of what will keep me reading. He’s kind, despite his own baggage, and is a great friend (love interest, mayhaps?) for Sera.
Elgon (a.k.a. Monster) is Tor’s pet wild animal. I love his interaction with Sera, and I am anxious for his safety, even though he only appears at the tail end (no pun intended) of this installment. I hope he is an addition to the cast that sticks around.
This story is the first part of a serialized novella. It’s a form I’ve never experienced before, but I do like it. I was afraid I’d be annoyed at having to wait for the next installment, but actually I’m enjoying drawing out the process. As long as the next installment comes soon, I think it’s a form that will translate well, especially to ereaders.
In terms of this segment of the novella, the plot is well paced, though I wouldn’t have minded seeing her first real interaction with Tor drawn out a bit more. The action sequences certainly kept my heart pumping. And the budding romance has me intrigued to see more.
The writing is very well done. Nothing stood out to me as awkward or out of place. The dialogue was believable and sounded fluid to my reader’s ear (and I’m pretty picky about my dialogue). As I mentioned earlier, the descriptions are lush and the overall balance between elements is preserved.
This book is for you if…
You like a fast-paced story with a good hook and a serialized approach.
This book is not for you if…
You’re looking for a long, complex read.
Buy it, borrow it, or bypass it
Buy it. It’s a fun dip into a unique fantasy!
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