The people suffer under the centuries-long rule of the Moon Throne. The royal family - the despotic emperor and his monstrous sons, the Three Terrors - hold the countryside in their choking grip. They bleed the land and oppress the citizens with the frightful powers they inherited from the god locked under their palace.

But that god cannot be contained forever.

By Sophie

I haven’t often encountered a book with such an overal excellent first 100 pages. I was sucked into a story involving corrupt emperors and their terrifying children, a mad chase, giggling telepathic tortoises, a heroic stand by a drunk commander, escaped prisoners and outcasts – and then one of the principal characters died before I could so much as get used to them! I was out of breath before the section entitled “The First Day” even started, but in the best way.

The book is told through three interconnecting narratives: a 2nd-person point-of-view (POV) listening to her grandmother’s stories, that same POV watching a theater performance, and a ‘regular’ 3rd-person POV fantasy about the Moon Throne. Somehow author Simon Jimenez never once had me confused about where I was in the story, though. In fact, moving so seamlessly back and forth through these layers drew me deeper into the book, Inception-style. There are Greek-chorus-like interruptions rather than chapters, and that, too, works wonderfully well, as do the frequent italicized thoughts of (sometimes very) minor characters as they brush up to the main strand of the narrative. For me, it all built up the world, turning it into a fully-peopled experience.

As for the story, it’s a timeless tale of corrupted power, godlike royals, the Moon and the Water, terrible parenting, survival, war, abandonment, and deep, yearning, devoted Love. The tension ebbs and flows. Each of the five days comes to a terrible climax, and no character is safe. I really had to pause my reading every so often, just to process all the things that happened. The characters are full and broken, and I will remember and honor them. A wonderful, unexpected reading treasure!

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