Thursday, July 2, 2015

Book Review: Celtic Moon, by Jan DeLima

Celtic Moon
Jan DeLima
Mass Market Paperback, 304 pages
Ace Books
September 23, 2013
Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased from Amazon

Book Synopsis:  Sophie Thibodeau has been on the run from the father of her son for more than fifteen years. Now her son, Joshua, is changing, and her greatest fears are about to be realized. He’s going to end up being just like his father—a man who can change into a wolf.

Dylan Black has been hunting for Sophie since the night she ran from him—an obsession he cannot afford in the midst of an impending war. Dylan controls Rhuddin Village, an isolated town in Maine where he lives with an ancient Celtic tribe. One of the few of his clan who can still shift into a wolf, he must protect his people from the Guardians, vicious warriors who seek to destroy them.

When Sophie and Dylan come together for the sake of their son, their reunion reignites the fierce passion they once shared. For the first time in years, Dylan’s lost family is within his grasp. But will he lose them all over again? Are Joshua and Sophie strong enough to fight alongside Dylan in battle? Nothing less than the fate of his tribe depends on it…


I love to read great paranormal romance and urban fantasy novels. This particular one looked very promising, and indeed, I loved the story, for the most part. I also liked the book's cover; the female hero certainly looks as if she won't be intimidated, and I admire such female characters! However, I'm disappointed to say that there were a few things in the story that have left me with some mixed feelings about this book, in spite of its compelling characters, nice writing style, and great plot containing a mix of action and romance. 
As I began  reading, I definitely enjoyed how smoothly the author helped me suspend my disbelief. I immediately became immersed in the world she had so expertly created. This world is based entirely on Celtic mythology, which, I must admit, I don't know much about, except that it does have some connection to the Arthurian legends, and these I have loved for a long time. I especially liked how DeLima was able to create a magical atmosphere here in the U.S., which almost made me believe I was actually in a mythical forest somewhere in the British isles.

The werewolf mythology was very well-handled. DeLima has a very  original take on this paranormal world, and it was so attractive to read about I fiercely began to wish Rhuddin Village actually existed!

I totally loved the characters! Sophie Thibodeau, the main female protagonist, is very sensitive and passionate, as well as resourceful and brave. It was very gutsy of her to leave Dylan when she did -- all alone, with no help. Her reason for taking  this extreme course of action was one any feminist (which she certainly is) can relate to -- Dylan had become extremely controlling. As an alpha and leader of his people, he had his reasons for doing this, but Sophie was appalled at how far he was willing to go in order to make sure secrecy was maintained. So she did the only thing she could do -- she ran.

I also liked Dylan. Although he is the leader of his people, and a very strong and disciplined one, at that, he really doesn't come across as a bully. It's true that he is very stubborn, but still, throughout the story, it's clear that he really has no wish to dominate Sophie. He merely thinks that she, as a human, does not clearly understand his reasons for exerting what to her seems to be excessive control. Besides, he truly loves her as much as she loves him, although she won't admit this to herself, at first. As the story progresses, he woos her with tenderness and patience, even though, at the beginning of the novel, they do have some arguments.

In fact, one of the nicest aspects of this novel is the romance. Dylan and Sophie don't quite see eye to eye on certain things, but their mutual passion is undeniable. It's so sweet, too, that they have been faithful to each other throughout the years. Dylan has always thought of Sophie as his mate, while Sophie herself has always felt the same way toward him, in spite of her protests to the contrary. As the saying goes, "where there's smoke, there's fire". I really enjoyed watching the fire smolder, and then gather full strength!

Joshua, Sophie and Dylan's son,  is also a very appealing character. He and his mother have a very tight bond, due to Sophie's fierce protectiveness of him. Now that he's met his father, Joshua is eager to be as much like him as possible, and they start to bond, as well. I adored Joshua's gentle, even innocent, personality, which was molded by his mother. I also looked forward to his bonding with his father, which would complete his growth process, turning him into a man who, like Dylan, would be able to love as well as rule.

Another character I really liked was Francine, Sophie's mother. She steadfastly supported her daughter in her decision to return to Dylan. She, too, is a very strong character, one who is never afraid to speak her mind. Besides all this, she has a great relationship with Joshua.

It's apparent, from the above, that this novel has some very compelling, rather poignant family dynamics.There's the love between the two main characters, and there's also family love. DeLima deftly meshes one with the other, thus making her characters, and their world even more attractive.

As I stated above, Celtic Moon does have some darker aspects that made me pretty uncomfortable. So, in spite of the fact that I love this story, I had to be honest and mention the bothersome parts, as well.

Something I found very disturbing was the mention of a powerful weapon given to Sophie by a man named Taliesin.

The weapon referred to above is  a metallic rope in the shape of a snake, and it has serrated edges. It requires a 'small blood donation' -- the owner must prick his/her finger and place a drop of blood in a small receptacle located near the serpent's head. This is the only way the serpent will recognize its rightful owner. This was way too creepy and sinister for me!

This metallic rope also communicates telepathically with Sophie in a hissing voice, and  gives her headaches and nightmares.

Snakes are recognized in some cultures as a symbol of evil.  So why did Taliesin give Sophie such an evil  weapon to defend herself with?

As if all this weren't enough, the reader later discovers that this weapon had previously been used to decapitate an enemy right in front of two children. Witnessing such an event would traumatize a child for life! I found this to be very disturbing, as well as unrealistic. 

To put the cap on the things mentioned above, there's a certain type of pretty graphic sex act toward the end of the book, and one of the participants is decapitated (with the serpent weapon) in the middle of it. I was sickened and horrified....  I found this scene to be excessively violent, horribly unpleasant, and totally unnecessary. Had I known it was part of the plot, I certainly wouldn't have bought and read the book.

It's too bad that these unpleasant elements were present in a novel that was otherwise such an engaging read... I would have definitely included it among my favorites! Also, I fully intended to read the entire trilogy. I am very hesitant to do so now. I'm not ruling it out entirely, though; the following two books might not include such objectionable things. And I do love the world, as well as the characters, created by this author. So I do have to give this some thought.

MY RATING:        

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