Catalyst Moon: Incursion (Volume 1)—Lauren L. Garcia

Standard

Plot: 3/5       Characters: 4/5       Writing: 4/5       Entertainment: 4/5       World Building: 5/5

The county of Aredia doesn’t handle magic very well. As a result, mages are enslaved and imprisoned for their powers. When the transfer of a mage named Kali goes haywire due to strange, demon-like bandits, both she and her guard, Stonewell will have to learn how to trust each other if they want to get to the city of Whitewater in one peace. Not all is well in at their destination, however. Relations between mages and their captors are growing tense. When they’ll break is anyone’s guess.

When it comes to fantasy, one of the quickest was to my heart is brilliant world building. Garcia is a wonderful archer and Catalyst Moon is an arrow that hit the bullseye. The setting feels familiar but brings some brilliant new twists, such as mages being people to be feared and distrusted, and new cultures I can’t say I’ve seen very much in fantasy, if at all (Note to the author: I love the Sufani. Can they have their own spinoff series? Please?). The best part is that Garcia introduces it all in a very natural way. We learn about this world as the characters move through it like people who, well, actually live there. The dialogue teaches us about the characters, their culture, and the plot in equal parts. In fact, if you’re fond of writing fantasy, I highly suggest you check out Catalyst Moon to see how Garcia does it. You won’t be disappointed. I highly recommend you check out how Garcia writes magic as well. It’s vivid, creative, and surprisingly concrete for a concept and forces that comes out of nowhere, making it definitely worth a look if you’re a fantasy fan.

The story is a classic journey-type adventure, but, again Garcia manages to bring some new twists to the adventure both in the people and places Kali and Stonewall encounter as well as with the sides of them she decides to explore. Garcia really digs into the depths of these characters, resulting in some very interesting themes and questions that I’m curious to explore more in the next book.

If I had one complaint, it would be that there were some wonky formatting choices made during the creation of this book. The narrative voice can’t seem to decide when and why it wants to italicize words and mentions of “Meanwhile…” and “The Next Day…” feel redundant. Garcia’s writing is descriptive enough that it’s easy to pick the story up after page breaks. It’s also strong enough that we can sense the emotions within scenes without italicized words. That being said, it’s purely an aesthetic issues for me. The story, characters, and writing—the really important parts of any book—shine, making Catalyst Moon worth your time.

So, if you like magic, adventure and creative storytelling, Catalyst Moon should definitely be on your reading list. The story is fun, the world building is excellent, and the characters give you quite a bit to think about. If that sounds like a story you’d like, head over to Amazon and check out this award-winning fantasy adventure.

 

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