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Review: Of Moons and Monsters by Willow Hadley

Hell hath no fury like a man scorned.

Isla learns that lesson all too well when she agrees to go to a party with her half-demon best friend, Alistair, to help him make his vampire ex-boyfriend jealous. Their plan backfires when Alistair’s ex turns out to be more psycho than Isla realized, and she finds herself being kidnapped and sold on the supernatural black market.

While Isla’s only human, she’s spent her life surrounded by supernatural creatures. Her situation is precarious, but she’s pretty sure she knows what to expect. At least, until her buyer ends up transporting her to a completely different realm called Briya where nobody speaks her language.

Isla is gifted to the four Guardians of Briya—Reule, Audun, Maalik, and Caelan. With the dreaded Beast’s Moon looming right around the corner, the Guardians are expected to choose a mate. They’re furious with their king for his scheming, and they’re determined to help Isla find her way back home to Alistair. But the timing of Isla’s arrival complicates everything, and they find themselves drawn to her no matter how hard they try to fight their instincts.

A surprisingly gratifying debut in a reverse harem series, Of Moons and Monsters is an experience from start to finish. The novel follows Isla, an unremarkable human in a fantastical world who is plummeted into an even stranger land of myths and magic. The plot isn’t anything new, especially in the reverse harem and fantasy romance genres. However, Hadley adds just enough that the story doesn’t feel tired and overdone. In truth, the fact that Isla and her partners never fully learn each other’s language actually gives the story more depth. Too many transplanted heroines and their partners somehow find a quick fix for this plot device, which often comes across as too convenient and easy. This also makes them more admirable for their creativity in communicating and strength for handling such a difficult situation.

Isla and her partners’ relationship was also a delight to read about. Every word of affection, every loving emotion is portrayed thoroughly in a way that just warms the reader’s heart. Each hero is lovable from the get go – yes even the grumpy one – and it’s obvious that they have good intentions. Definitely desirable mate material.

That being said, the novel does end in a cliffhanger that isn’t alluded to in the synopsis. Usually, this is a deal breaker – though realistically, the novel could be enjoyed as it is. Isla clearly has unfinished business with her best friend Alistair, who may or may not be her 6th mate, as well as two more potential “mates” back in her own world. However, this part of the plot seems both unnecessary and overkill for a story that is just as enjoyable without them. Despite supposedly being a large part of her life, Hadley needs to remind the reader repeatedly that Alistair is important. As for the other two potential mates, they are more for Alistair than Isla, and their chemistry comes across as forced more than anything. Until much farther into the story, these “mates” were more of a device used by the author for the heroine to “let loose” in the beginning after a bad break up.

The author could also have fleshed more out. Certain characters exist just to serve a singular purpose while the world itself is still very much a mystery. This could be forgivable if the story was only from Isla’s POV, but it’s written from the men’s as well.

In the end, Of Moons and Monsters will whisk the reader away right alongside Isla. Between alluring heroes, a strong heroine, and a captivating romance, Of Moons and Monsters is a must read for fans of the genre.

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