I received this book for free from Hear Our Voices Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I promised my mother I would never come to Bato-Ko…and yet here I am.
Narra Jal is one of the cursed, cast aside her whole life, considered unlucky. But with her mother’s life on the line, she will return to the city where she was born to face the trials: a grueling, bloodthirsty series of challenges designed to weed out the weak, the greedy, and the foolish. Trials to select the next ruler of Tigang.
Narra has nothing. No weapons. No training. No magic. No real chance of leaving with her life. Just her fierce grit and a refusal to accept the destiny she’s been handed. Even the intense, dark-eyed Guardian she feels a strangely electric connection with cannot help her. Narra is on her own. But she’ll show everyone what the unlucky can do.
Let the bloodbath begin.
Every ten years, the people of Tigang welcome a new ruler. Volunteers from the city must survive the Sundo, a multitude of challenges designed to test if they can prove themselves strong enough to rule. To return to Bato-ko means breaking her promise to her mother, but Narra Jal has no choice. She doesn’t want to lead; she just wants to know why her mother was arrested under mysterious circumstances and hopes that she can free her from prison by winning. But there’s a reason why her mother forbade her from ever returning, and if she wishes to save her family, she must delve deep into her past.
Fun fact: I actually had the opportunity to read this manuscript as an intern at Entangled, so it pleases me to be a part of the blog tour to gush about a great story once again.
The Moonlight Blade is a gripping and intense young adult fantasy set in a world where magic is both feared and revered. Narra impersonates her older sister to partake in the Sundo and quickly learns that her family history within the city is much deeper than she ever anticipated, spanning even into her past reincarnations and placing her into the path of the current Astar, an immortal turned mortal, who was sent to advise her nation’s people. Not only that, but she has also gained the attention of Astar’s right-hand man, Teloh, who is hiding secrets of his own. As Narra and Teloh’s path intertwines, they face unimaginable danger.
What I loved the most about this novel are the characters that just come right off the page. Narra worries that she is unlike her sister, who lights up the room, but she is a formidable person in her own right, gaining the respect of her competitors with her sharp wit and tongue. The way her relationship grows with her peers is what got me hooked right away. The supporting cast is well-developed, with complex and relatable motivations that add depth to the story. (Dayen and Virian, I will fight for you both, say the word, and I’ll be there.)
Barbosa has created a rich and detailed world full of complex magic and mystery that spans years of history to create a captivating and believable story. The story is wonderfully written, with vivid descriptions that bring the world of Tigang to life. For fans of Sabaa Tahir and Renée Ahdieh, The Moonlight Blade is a release that should be on your radar.
I also wanted to note that this outfit was based on my own research before I realised that Tessa Barbosa had posted a pre-order benefit tweet which showed a more accurate rendition of Narra’s outfit that I could’ve used as a reference (Still cursing myself for not checking, haha)
You can watch the timelapse video here! I also live-streamed this on Twitch (the VOD is unfortunately unavailable due to video error – I have a love-hate relationship with OBS), but I’m often live on the weekdays playing games (I am currently streaming horizon zero dawn) or drawing on the weekend, so come check it out!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tessa Barbosa loved books so much that after spending one to many late nights up reading, and eating distractedly at the table, her parents banned her from reading. It didn’t work. Tessa stuffed books under her mattress, hid them in her sweaters, and many poor paperbacks met their ruin in a hot bath.
But writing novels didn’t happen for a long time. She majored in computer science, and minored in the fine and performing arts. After graduation, she switched from a career in software development to technical writing, because words were always her first love. Now she writes software help by day, and fantasy novels by night. Her debut YA Fantasy novel THE MOONLIGHT BLADE, will be out in 2023 from Entangled Teen. What better way to live in stories than to write them?