Happy Friday to you all! Today I have an engaging little offering that I snatched up with pleasure from Kathy at I Am A Reader, Not A Writer, through her new website Ebooks for Review. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a nifty little idea that connects authors seeking reviews with readers who might be looking for a new book. You don’t have to be a blogger to apply to read and review a book – you simply have to have an account on a social media site that welcomes book reviews – Goodreads, Librarything, whatever – and be willing to post a review after you’ve read the book. Simple and brilliant for those who want to get free books and don’t have a blog. But I digress.
Ghost Moon Night by Jewel Allen is an atmospheric and unusual tale of a village suffering from a long-ago curse, set in the Philippines. It was entirely not what I expected, but I actually enjoyed it more because of that. So let’s dive in. Lanterns at the ready? Windows boarded and barred? Sitting comfortably as the undead rage and screech in the night? Then we’ll begin.
Seventeen-year-old Anotonio Pulido is just about to finish high school – the first in his family to do so. His father wants him to help on the family farm, but Anotonio doesn’t want to be tied to his home when his best friend Jose gets to go to Manila on a basketball scholarship. When a new priest arrives in the village, Anotonio is sent to escort him to the parish house…and inform him about one of the village’s more unusual events – Ghost Moon Night. For one night each month, on the new moon, Dasalin village is besieged by creatures from beyond the grave, the langbaun, or flying undead. Unless the villagers are safe behind locked doors and barred windows, they risk being torn apart or taken by the langbaun, and becoming langbaun themselves. As Antonio and Father Sebastian are drawn deeper into the terrors of Ghost Moon Night, Anotonio knows that he must face down the langbaun once and for all, or die in the attempt.
* you’ve ever wondered whether that deceased person you wronged long ago was truly dead…or just waiting for a new moon to turn up at your window, dessicated wings a-flutter and bony claws outstretched
* you’re consider yourself to be a person who honours their commitments…including grudges…and won’t let a little thing like death put you off hassling the person who wronged you
* you’ve ever been stuck a long way from home as night falls, wishing an empty taxi would turn up to ferry you to safety
* you’ve ever repeatedly made a fool of yourself in front of someone you really like
If you’re hoping for a creepy, flying zombie type of horror story then you’ll get what you are looking for from Ghost Moon Night. If, however, you are looking for a reasonably complex coming-of-age tale that links spirituality, family expectations and choices to be made that will determine one’s character, then you’re in luck – because you’ll also find what you are looking for in Ghost Moon Night! When I read the blurb of this book, I expected a fast-paced paranormal aventure with a bit of humour thrown in. I certainly got that, but a whole lot more as well.
Allen has managed to create what is essentially a tale about a young man trying to find his place in a village where everyone has known him, and his family, since … well, since forever. Punctuating Antonio’s very ordinary travails in finding a job, being a good son and all the rest of it are some genuinely creepy action scenes featuring flying zombies (some of whom are people that until very recently, lived in the village with Antonio!) with an abiding desire to tear flesh from bones. So instead of just being a zombie, scary book, this is a strange yet satisfying tale with a lot to offer the reader of straight – as in, not paranormal or fantasy – YA fiction.
The Filippino setting and the background themes of religion and cultural tradition running through the book also provide a point of difference for anyone looking for a YA read that isn’t your standard, set-in-a-big-city, sort of a story. There are lots of Tagalog words and phrases thrown in to keep the reader’s mind working and a glossary of these is included at the back of the book, although most are explained incidentally during the story, so there’s no need to panic if you aren’t a native speaker of Tagalog!
I ended up enjoying this story very much, as much for its sensitive and realistic portrayal of a young man trying to do the best he can and please the people who are important to him as for the freaky langbaun, who have shot up to near the top of my list of “creepiest fictional/mythical monsters”. Definitely give this one a go if you’re looking for something a little bit different and out of the ordinary in the paranormal department.
Until next time,