Shadowed by Moonlight

Shadowed by Moonlight
Kryssa Stevenson
Data premiery
Kickstarter project

“Shadowed by Moonlight” by Kryssa Stevenson is a fantasy novel based on Pacific Islands folklore. The first time I stumbled upon this story was on Wattpad, where I read a couple of chapters and was so enchanted with it that I reached out to the author immediately to tell her how awesome this book sounds. A couple of weeks later, I learned that Kryssa is working hard to self-publish her book. She contacted me to ask if I wanted to review the book’s ARC. I didn’t have to be asked twice!

What first caught my eye was the setting. I read a lot and never stumbled upon a fantasy book based on Pacific Islands mythology. My only knowledge about the culture was from watching Moana (many, many times, because my daughter loves it). The author herself embraced her heritage and researched the customs so well that the story is immersive and stands out from the throng of books in western settings. Toa is the son of the high chief of Light Village and, as the first born, the heir to the title. The problem is that many villagers and people from other communities don’t see him as worthy of the position. He is too thin, too weak, and helpless in a fight. Even though he’s been preparing for the role for years and knows everything about customs, healing, and agriculture, it is still not enough. Not compared to Masina, his younger sister, who gods blessed with supernatural strength and agility. Under the growing pressure from society and his own bitterness and jealousy, the boy makes a deal with the stranger to prove once and for all that he’s worthy of being the high chief. Unfortunately, things go south, and his little sister is sent to the underworld. Realising his mistake, Toa and his friends embark on a dangerous journey to the deadlands to get Masina back.

Even though the story is a classic tale of an imperfect brother trying to fix his mistakes and save his sister, the setting makes it enchanting. I loved how the author created her world. It’s rich in culture and customs, exotic food, clothes and weapons and intriguing lore. The demons and gods walk among the people and treat them as family. They are very humanlike themselves; they are not perfect and make mistakes. Kryssa has also done a fantastic job describing sailing on canoes, which is a substantial part of the book and is something Polynesian culture is famous for. It all sounds very authentic, and it’s easy to imagine yourself as part of the navigation crew.

I know some people may not like the protagonist, Toa, as at the beginning of the book, he’s not a very likeable character because of his bitterness and jealousy that affect how he treats his sister. But I think it was very human behaviour. Considering Toa’s story and what he’s been through, it’s not hard to believe that he got to the point he couldn’t deal with all the pressure and comparisons to his sister, blaming her for all his misfortunes. As the story progresses, he realises his mistakes and is determined to do better. And it’s really what we all do. No one is perfect; we all make mistakes, sometimes bad ones. But all we can do is start again and try to do better.

“Shadowed by Moonlight” is a beautiful, heart-warming story about redemption and importance of family and friends, and it will take you for a journey to beautiful places that most of us can only imagine. I loved this story, and I hope Kryssa’s Kickstarter will be successful so that the book can reach more people. If you’d like to check this story out and support the author, go to her Instagram profile - steviewrites221 where you can find the Kickstarter link.