Review: The Killing Moon (Dreamblood #1) – N.K. Jemisin

Hello, hello…this is your captain speaking. Remember me? Ha! I ended up having to take an unofficial hiatus for a week due to general life business, thesis-ing, and a book slump where I just lost the desire to read… luckily, only a temporary condition! Anyway, I am back, and I hope you have all been having a wonderfully literary time in my absence.

the killing moonThe city burned beneath the Dreaming Moon.

In the ancient city-state of Gujaareh, peace is the only law. Upon its rooftops and amongst the shadows of its cobbled streets wait the Gatherers – the keepers of this peace. Priests of the dream-goddess, their duty is to harvest the magic of the sleeping mind and use it to heal, soothe . . . and kill those judged corrupt.

But when a conspiracy blooms within Gujaareh’s great temple, Ehiru – the most famous of the city’s Gatherers – must question everything he knows. Someone, or something, is murdering dreamers in the goddess’ name, stalking its prey both in Gujaareh’s alleys and the realm of dreams. Ehiru must now protect the woman he was sent to kill – or watch the city be devoured by war and forbidden magic. 

Rating: 4/5

This was the kind of fantasy book that’s meant to be savoured – its pace is slow, but the kind that I could appreciate, not the painful variety. The author has created a new fantasy world, rich in character, complex and well-fleshed out.

It was a little difficult to situate myself initially, especially with the new words, and certain rituals that I didn’t quite understand, but as with most fantasy books, clarity comes as you persevere. I especially enjoyed how the author showed the contrasts between the two different cultures featured – and not just the surface level cultural distinctions, e.g. food, dress and religion, for example, but also the deeper elements of their way of life.

One thing I admired about this book is that it wasn’t formulaic. There was no miraculous saving of one of the doomed characters. There were no dramatic declarations of love. The day wasn’t magically saved, in the end. (Although it was much less bad than it could have been, so please don’t despair!) It was a refreshing change, even though my wish-fulfillment side was a little sad.

There is very little romance in this book, so be warned if that’s what you’re looking for. There are hints of it, certainly, but our characters are focused on the end-game.

All in all, a dense but interesting novel focused on the corrupting nature of power, euthanasia and religion, with a main trio of well-constructed characters whose actions are understandable even when they’re not particularly palatable.

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12 thoughts on “Review: The Killing Moon (Dreamblood #1) – N.K. Jemisin

  1. I’m reading the same type of book where I can’t see the world it’s being played out. Which is weird because the book is about Earth and its pending doom because the moon exploded and broke into pieces of raining asteroids. Yep. Yep. Glad you’re back, Hannah dearest. 🙂

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  2. Ooh you have me really curious here, Hannah! I really need a fantasy that’s not the same generic thing as I feel like I’m losing interest in that whole genre completely, which is certainly not ideal. Adding this one to the TBR!

    Lovely review, gal <33

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  3. Dense sounds about right 🙂 Though, to me, that is actually a high selling point most of the time. I like the sound of this.Then again, I can always count on you featuring books that appeal to me 🙂

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  4. I’ve always struggled with fantasy (although it’s one of my favourite genre) but damn, this book sounds jusssst right. I LOVE when the author provides a wide picture of the culture in the story. You’ve intrigued me so I’m adding this to my tbr pile. Great review as always, Hannah!

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    1. I do struggle with the massive fantasy books – I need something that’s a more manageable size – although one day I would like to challenge myself with something epic! But at 400 pages, this one was definitely doable.

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  5. Reading slumps really suck. I’m glad to see you got out of yours! Fantasy is not really my go-to genre, though it’s the one I read the most. Non-formulaic book is already great, but if it has very little romance AND it addressed such powerful themes (corruption of something always intrigues me), then this is a must read! Great review. 🙂

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    1. They do! I hate just having all these potential books to read, and none of them piquing my interest. I find fantasy reads helps me get out of a slump, what with a whole new setting, and the imaginative elements that go into it.

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