The Blue Moon Narthex by N. J. Donner
Summary from NetGalley:
The balance of good and evil has been left in the hands of a thirteen year old…
Since the beginning of time, Karmanic matter worked silently and unassisted keeping good and evil in balance, until growing greed in the world meant Karma couldn’t keep up. As World War I rages, the secret Karmanic Sovereign Legion works behind the scenes to help Karma.
A suspicious train accident and an odd stone-shaped object that belonged to his father thrust Cole McCarthy and two schoolmates into the middle of this battle to keep dark forces in check.
With only the powerful stone, a letter, and grandfatherly Norm to guide them, the trio must unravel clues and tap into unknown strengths to discover who Cole’s father really was and keep themselves and those they love safe.
ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.
There were many things to like about this book, and a few that I didn’t like.
The characters were interesting and likable. The story is told from Cole’s point of view so we get to know him the best. He is a likable kid with an enormous amount of responsibility placed on him pretty quickly. He accepts his new life in the Karmanic Sovereign Legion pretty easily and although he has lots of questions about the organization he doesn’t appear to ever seek out the answers. He does try to find the answers to what happened to his parents, but without the help of the organization he is now a part of. Cole’s friends Sophie and Britten were also likable, but didn’t seem too put out when they were told that they were now part of the organization too and expected to stay and train with Cole. Which was a little weird. But they are both clever and loyal friends who help Cole even when they know he might end up in serious trouble. There are several adult characters that were likable as well, but were not in the story that much.
The plot on the whole was interesting, but needs a little work. It supposedly takes place during the first World War and while there are references to the war, the feel of the book was more modern than that. Especially in the way people talked and dressed seemed more modern to me. It is never really explained what the Karmanic Sovereign Legion is or what sliders do exactly. There is some talk about keeping good and evil in balance but not any explanation as to how they do this. There is an interesting scene where we learn how the narthexes are made, this is the stone the sliders use to move from place to place instantly. But we are never given a reason why they do this. There is also a pretty good scene when Cole enters a competition which was exciting and fast pace. The pacing and plot overall were good and kept me interested despite the flaws.
NetGalley has it listed for teens and YA, but I would place it more solidly in the middle grades, perhaps the 10-14 year olds. I don’t see many young adults finding the book interesting.
Overall I liked the book but I’m not sure that I will continue the series.