Sarah's Stars

Holly Lisle. Moon and Sun: The Ruby Key
Orchard $18.99 ISBN 978-0-545-00012-3  361 pg.
Reviewed by Lindsey, Age 14

He laughed softly. "So you will swear to make good on a traitor's oath, though you have neither the knowledge nor the skills nor the power to carry through on your promise."

Dan and I both nodded.

"Knowing that if you failed, you would die first, and all the rest would still die?"

We nodded again.

"I don't like Caer Banris very much. It seems he's rather...clever...with clauses. Perhaps," he said softly, and suddenly I could see no trace of amusement in his eyes, "you and I can make a different deal, firstborn."

Fourteen-year-old Genna and her twelve-year-old brother Dan live in a strange world where night and day are divided between humans and the strange Nightling creatures. The humans rule the day and in turn, the Nightlings rule the night. If either species crosses into the other's territory, the laws declare that there will be war. But the power is unbalanced. Humans still have to give offerings to the Nightlings, lest small children be stolen away or the Nightlings be angered. In return, the creatures give the humans trinkets and baubles. Unfortunately for Genna and Dan, their father has wandered away, stricken with a disease similar to amnesia or Alzheimer's. He is believed dead and their mother is on the fast track to the same fate. When the pair sneaks out at night to take healing sap from trees that is only available with the moon, they learn from a rebel Nightling that their uncle has made a deal with the sly Kai-Lord of the Nightlings. If he can marry their mother and kill them both, as well as their younger siblings, the rest of the village will be killed but he will be spared and granted immortality. In a desperate game of wits Genna makes another deal with the Kai-Lord. If they can travel the dreamlike moonroads and bring back a mysterious person named Doyati, their village will be saved and the disease that has their parents in its grasp will be healed. But not everything is as it appears, and the journey to find Doyati is seemingly more and more impossible. Can Genna and Dan save their family and their village? Or will they all be killed?

The first thing that drew me to this book was the beautiful, intricate cover. It has an ethereal look that compliments the tale perfectly. The story itself was beautiful and intricate too. I felt a little miffed about Dan's character though because I thought his overly mature words and actions didn't quite fit with his twelve-year-old character. Genna's realistic qualms and fears were much appreciated though. The entire atmosphere of the book was just lovely. From the purple font to the dreamy moonroads and the gorgeous world of the Nightlings, The Ruby Key will draw you in and keep you there. The only problem I had with the writing itself was the constant use of the modern word sibs instead of siblings. It's a tiny detail but it actually really distracted me and it felt out of place with the magical, old-time feel of Genna's world. There was a nice balance between the action scenes and the talking and magic scenes which I really liked but the best thing by far about the book was...oh wait for it! It was wholly and completely original! Yes, you heard me right! It was a fantasy storyline that hadn't been done before. I've never read anything like it. Gone were the ancient prophecies, the epic quests, the wise old men, the clever variations of ogres, the maps and magical objects! The Ruby Key stands out as completely and utterly unique in the sea, no, the raging hurricane of other fantasy books.


Other than that, the conclusive ending wrapped the book up nicely while also paving the road for future installments. There wasn't a disappointing cliffhanger that made me feel as if I have to read the sequel. No, The Ruby Key is a stand-alone novel, but it also feels cohesive with other books in the trilogy. (Series?) I'm not going to read the sequel because I feel I have to, I'm going to read it because I want too and at the same time, the story will still continue from where it left off. That in itself is very difficult to do, striking a happy medium between the suspense of an ending and the closure of the previous story. The Ruby Key is a wonderful work of art that will appeal to fantasy and adventure lovers ages 8 and up. There isn't any inappropriate content either so readers and younger listeners alike can enjoy it. It would be a great addition to any bookshelf or middle school/elementary school library. And to Holly Lisle, thank you for writing this book. I sincerely enjoyed the unique (Hooray!) ride.

I give Holly Lisle's The Ruby Key four and one half stars out of five.


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