Book Review [Moonblood]

Tales of Goldstone Wood #3
Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Publisher:  Bethany House
Genre:  YA
Released:  2012

[rear cover]
Moonblood Draws Near, and Soon the Dragons Will Wake

Desperate to regain the trust of his kingdom, Prince Lionheart reluctantly banishes his faithful servant and only friend, Rose Red.  Now she is lost in the hidden realm of Arpiar, held captive by her evil goblin father, King Vahe.

Vowing to redeem himself, Lionheart plunges into the mysterious Goldstone Wood, seeking Rose Red.  In strange other worlds, Lionheart must face a lyrical yet lethal tiger, a fallen unicorn, and a goblin horde on his quest to rescue the girl he betrayed.

With the Night of Moonblood fast approaching--when King Vahe seeks to wake the Dragon's sleeping children--Lionheart must discover whether or not his heart contains courage before it's too late for Rose Red. . . and all those he loves.

WARNING: Possible Spoilers

This is the third in a series of six of the Tales of Goldstone Wood.  And by far, it is the most intense.

[The Basics]
This particular story centers around Lionheart, prince of Southlands and heir to the Eldest's throne.  Ever since his timely return to his decimated city after five years of exile in which the Dragon ruled, the prince is hard-put to regain his citizens' trust.

A heavy burden of regret and cowardice weighs him down, though you might hardly notice it behind the mask he wears.  Despite the rumors and whispers behind his back, he seems to have everything working perfectly for him.  He is engaged to the beautiful Daylily, a baron's daughter destined to be a queen, the Dragon has left his homeland, the long rebuilding process is well under way, and his father's throne will soon be his.  Or so it seems.

The people of Southlands are convinced he has been ensorcelled by a demon, a witch, who comes in the form of a chambermaid named Rose Red, and who Prince Lionheart has declared is under his protection.  (If you have read the previous book, Veiled Rose, you will know of this girl's background and how she and Lionheart came to meet in a forest many years ago.)  Long story short, Lionheart reluctantly banishes Rose Red to the Wilderlands, which is merely a different name for the enchanted and mysterious Goldstone Wood, thus saving her from a hanging by the hands of his own people who have seen her for who she really is, a goblin child.  In his own mind, he seriously thinks he has done the right thing, for all he wants is the trust of the people and his dream come true: sitting on the throne of his father, as is his birthright.  He later learns that by exiling his faithful friend, he has unknowingly sent her to her death, and so sets out to make things right, no matter the cost.

[Spiritual Content]
This is a Christian novel, and every page bleeds the unconditional love and sweet forgiveness of Christ, in the form of fallen man--Lionheart, Rose Red, the goblins of Arpiar, King Vahe (just to name a few)--and the personage of Jesus, Prince Aethelbald of Farthestshore.

Lionheart struggles to redeem himself of his guilt and past sins.  In his vain attempts, he learns that he alone cannot win atonement for those sins, yet with the help of the Prince, he finds redemption, forgiveness, and the strength to defeat a Dragon.

Rose Red has lived her whole life veiled from the world, until that veil is torn to reveal the ugly features of her heritage and birth.  While on the outside she appears foul and loathsome, her heart is pure.  Though she fails at times to listen to the sweet words of the Prince, just as we ignore God and follow the ways of the world, Rosie eventually finds freedom and beauty of the inner soul.

Vahe, King of Arpiar and of the Veiled People, has craved the physical beauty his powers can offer and vows to veil the whole of the known world in the same way he has covered his realm.  In the end, blinded by his dream and the promise of power, he falls where even the merciful Prince cannot help him.

The Dragon, who represents Satan in every way, though vanquished in the previous book, still rules his realm of Death.  His children, once people of soul, now dragons of fire and destruction, sleep in the Village of Dragons, prophesied to be awakened on the Night of Moonblood.

Death's sister, Life-in-Death, is mistress of dreams.  She plays a huge part in this story as the one who will fulfill the twisted dreams of Vahe.

The people of the Wood, classified as Faerie, are practically immortal.  Essentially, they have three lives.  If killed three times, they die a final death and go on to the Final Water.

This can be a bit humorous, at times.  Instead of using familiar curse words that we would cringe at, Mrs. Stengl has her characters swear by a dragon and his teeth/eyes/whatever, a king/queen's name/beard, or by the name of the sun or moon.  For example, phrases like "Dragons eat you!" "Iubdan's beard!" "Lumé's crown!" and so on are quite common.

As in the other books, dragons are purely evil, just as Satan himself, also called the great Dragon, is evil.  We see ruined buildings and castles that have been destroyed by fire.  People and creatures are burned to nothing or left wounded by flames.  A goblin trader, whom we met in Heartless, cheats and deceives a man into taking a wrong Path.  Characters fight a Tiger lord in his domain, and one is severely wounded.  Another character kills one life of the Tiger, thus saving them, and another man wounds said Tiger by stabbing his eye.  Knife and swords slash, cut, and/or kill opponents.

Lots and lots of blood.

A unicorn, fallen offspring of Hymlumé (the Moon, wife of Lumé, the Sun), is enslaved by Vahe and forced to do his bidding.  This creature appears beautiful only to maidens pure of heart, but otherwise is a horrifying beast much like a bull covered in flames.  Side note:  This whole tale centers on the Night of Moonblood, where Hymlumé's children, the stars, turned against her to follow the Dragon, who spoke of such beautiful promises.  (Sound familiar?)  In following the Dragon, Death-in-Life, they turned against their mother, the Moon, and pierced her with their horns.  Hence, Moonblood.

A woman is burned by a dragon-man's hands, but later healed by the unicorn.  "Oo.  A twist.  But I thought it was evil!"  I'll leave that for you to discover yourself.

A dragon is pierced by this horn and dies.  A man, also, is pierced through the chest and dies.

A mother sacrifices her life in helping a prisoner escape enchanted chains.

[Love-y Content]
Nothing I can bring to mind. . .  A character hugs another, more out of comfort from the horrors seen.  Tough love is shown between a certain two knights of Farthestshore in their words and actions, but it is evident they care for each other.

A man kisses the cheek of a girl.

A great story.  An intriguing, one-of-a-kind tale.  And one I would definitely recommend, especially if you've already read the other two books.  This one kind of ties them all together.  You learn more of the characters' backgrounds, homes, and why this happened and how that came about.

All in all, a wonderful book!


Recommended ages:  13-15+

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1 comment

  1. Thank you for the review, Sarah! I got this one for Christmas and plan on reading it very soon. I love these books!


To each is given a bag of tools,
A shapeless mass, and a book of rules,
And each must make, ere life is flown,
A stumbling block or a stepping stone.