The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin is my first Jemisin novel and I was impressed, this is a solid book. The Killing Moon is a fantasy story set in an Egyptian like setting. All of the characters are people of color and have varying differences in pigment based on where they live in the region. This is a high fantasy novel that focuses a lot on information being withheld from characters. This ignorance sets up the plot and the revealing of information is the hook for the reader.
Ehiru is a Gatherer for the country Gujaareh. A Gatherer collects the magic from individual’s dreams and can use that magic to heal, soothe, or release someone from this life that is in pain into paradise. A Gatherer can also punish others with death that are marked as enemies. When Ehiru, with his apprentice Nijiri, meets a woman, Sunandi, from an opposing country, she brings information to Ehiru that might change his entire outlook on his own country and job. Also, a mysterious monster is killing people in their sleep, and its eyes are set on Ehiru next.
This fantasy novel has a focus on world building and plot over characters. I usually enjoy books like this, as long as the characters aren’t too wooden. Ehiru and Sunandi are the stand out characters for me. I like the growth in Ehiru’s character and his struggle with what he does as a Gatherer was my favorite part of the story. He has been told for awhile that his “gathering” is something of mercy and when he learns that it might not be as it is, he must struggle with this complex issue. Sunandi is a female character set in an important role that has a lot of intelligence. Sunandi is the voice of reason in this novel and I found that refreshing, as that character is usually played by an older gentleman. Even though Sunandi is the voice of reason, she is very much a woman too, and her femininity is great.
The world building is my favorite part of this novel. I enjoyed learning about this unique world and I absolutely loved the setting. A unique take on an Egyptian like culture was fantastic. The Gatherer system was interesting and I constantly wanted to read to learn more about them and other mysteries in this world. The small history deposits of the past rulers of this mythical land added so much flavor and depth to the world, it really improved my enjoyment of this novel.
Jemisin’s writing is easy to read and understand. I had to use the glossary a few times at the beginning but I was never lost in this novel. It is on that border of too complex and just right. Jemisin’s writing isn’t really special in any way, it is very conversational in reading, and doesn’t showcase Jemisin’s skill as a writer much.
When it comes to The Killing Moon, everything is just done good. There is nothing that stands out as exceptional. I was hoping for something a little special in this novel to make me like it more but it is just steady and solid. This is a fun read that will keep you entertained but it isn’t going to make any favorite book lists often. I think that if the world building and setting intrigues you, than this is probably something you’ll enjoy. I liked it, but I’m a lover of world building and history in fantasy books. People looking for a deep character driven book should look elsewhere and people looking for something beautiful to read might try something else too. This book is all about the mystery created by this world building and if that sounds interesting to you, check it out. Nothing annoyed me in this book and that is saying a lot. I will definitely check out more of her books.
3/5 13/25 Possible Score
Plot – 3(Good)
Characters – 2(O.K.)
Setting/World Building – 4(Strong)
Writing Style – 2(O.K.)
Heart & Mind Aspect – 2(O.K.)