The Killing Moon by N. K. Jemisin

A few weeks ago, when I finished the first book in a wonderful series for young readers (The Wilderking Trilogy by Jonathan Rogers), I took a look at my reading log (a new thing I'm doing with my students) and realized I had a decided lack of color and femaleness in my selections. I don't always pay attention to such things, but because I'm requiring my students to see some diversity in their reading year, I chose N. K. Jemisin's The Killing Moon for my next read.

This one landed in my house as part of my first Book Riot Quarterly box in May, and I hadn't gotten around to it. In fact, this is the first Book Riot Quarterly book I've read yet. Alas. I'm glad I picked it up because it is a good one. Go now to Jemisin's website, and you can read the first few chapters yourself.

An excellent example of fantasy layered on historical fiction, The Killing Moon is set in Gujaareh, where peace is maintained by the Hatawa. This peace is built on the work that Gatherers and Sharers do - the Gatherers collect a tithe offered by the sick and the dying and the Sharers heal by using this tithe. This tithe is housed in the power of dreams, the dreamblood that is part of every soul as it is tethered to this earth and that is released when that tether is severed and the tithebearer goes peacefully to Ina-Karekh for eternity. It is an interesting concept, and the built world unfolds just right in this book - not too quickly, leaving the reader some good bits to chew over before new information is added.

The plot centers around Ehiru, a master Gatherer, and his apprentice Nijiri. Together with an ambassador/spy from a neighboring country, they uncover corruption within the leadership of their Hatawa and the Princedom, and though the plot is not complicated, it is still suspenseful and enjoyable. Jemisin's writing is even and thought-provoking, and though I didn't underline or pause long on any other of her fine sentences, this one is well-worth holding on to:
True peace required the presence of justice, not just the absence of conflict. (335)
That line speaks truths a-plenty.

The Killing Moon is the first of two books in The Dreamblood series. I probably won't read the next one, but this one was fun and makes for a good recommendation to my fantasy-loving high school students.

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