Welcome to one of the book review stops on the blog tour for Moon in Bastet by E. S. Danon, organized by Silver Dagger Book Tours. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for more features, reviews, and a giveaway! (More on that at the end of this post.)
I must admit, I was drawn in instantly by the title and cover of this novel the first time I saw it listed as an upcoming tour on Silver Dagger’s website. I signed up right away and have been checking weekly to see if the schedule had been decided yet, and I’ve nervously resisted the urge to double book myself for this title with other tour companies just in case! (Goddess Fish is also hosting this title, and boy was that invite email tempting!) Thank you so much to E. S.Danon and Silver Dagger Book Tours for granting me access to a review copy of Moon in Bastet in exchange for an honest review. Despite my participation in this tour, my thoughts on the book are my own and completely honest.
Please note that this post contains affiliate links, which means there is no additional cost to you if you shop using my links, but I will earn a small percentage in commission. A program-specific disclaimer is at the bottom of this post.
Moon in Bastet
by E.S. Danon
Genre: Fantasy, Magical Realism
Page Count: 262
Add it to your Goodreads TBR!
A memoir turned into thrilling fiction; Moon in Bastet is based on the life of author E. S. Danon. The story follows a fourteen-year-old girl named Eva, an orphan living in the Negev desert of Israel who is working as a custodian of Cirque Du Christianisme.
Her life is controlled by a volatile drunk named Bella who favors a group of equally volatile teenage bullies, the Christian boys. Bullied, neglected, and alone – Eva’s only friends are an odd, thirteen-year-old Sephardic boy named Jack and a small cohort of Bedouin sister-wives.
On the brink of giving up on life, Eva stumbles upon a mysterious cat in the middle of the desert. Or really, did the cat stumble upon her? Filled with mystery, magic, and symbolism – Moon in Bastet is a story of resilience, survivorship, forgiveness, and women empowerment.
This is a work filled with Jewish mysticism that can be enjoyed by people of all races, ages, and religions everywhere.
Once again, please note that I was provided with a free review copy of Moon in Bastet by the author, E. S. Danon, via Silver Dagger Book Tours so that I could give an honest review in conjunction with the blog tour. My thanks to S.E. Danon and Silver Dagger Book Tours for this opportunity! My thoughts are my own and completely honest.
My Rating: 4 Stars
Moon In Bastet is, as the official synopsis indicates, a fictionalization of the author’s life leading into a supernatural adventure that is steeped in Jewish traditions and mysticism. As a lover of cats, the title and cover hooked me. As a former history student and simply someone who is curious and fascinated by world religions, I stayed with this book because of the unique way it set about teaching me more about Judaism. As a lover of science fiction and fantasy novels, the interdimensional travel and mystic battle to survive were the cherry on top of this rich cake.
I particularly enjoyed the complicated relationship between the main child characters, Eva and Jack, and of course I loved Eva’s relationship with her special cat. I can’t remember now if the cat Andy was described in detail or not, but in my mind’s eye, he’s a chocolate (brown) Burmese. Without spoiling anything, I’d like to admit at this point that I’ve asked both my cats if they’re keeping the same secrets Andy kept. So far they have not answered, but I suspect Pebbles knows exactly what I’m talking about.
In all seriousness, I very much enjoyed this book. I think it will empower Jewish kids, Middle Eastern kids, and individuals of feminine persuasion everywhere. This book has important and impactful things to say about sexism, religious freedom, and what it means to be family.
After hearing all this praise you may be wondering why I’ve chosen not to rate this book a full five out of five stars, so let’s address that. First, even though mysticism plays an enormous part in this book’s plot and message, we don’t experience much of it at all for the first half of the book. I understand that there was a lot of set-up to be done, and I am sensitive to the fact that this book is partially autobiographical, but as a stranger to the author with no connection to the real events and experiences that inspired this book, the first half felt quite slow. It felt like at least 100 pages were spent doing nothing but introducing characters and establishing the dynamics between them. I frequently and openly admit to being the type of reader who likes to spend a little extra time just “hanging out” with the characters, but that has to come after the plot has been established. Again without giving specific spoilers, once mysticism really comes in and the plot picks up, there is a series of life or death events that take place. The pacing changed very abruptly at this point, and to an extent that is to be expected, but I found myself wanting to have little bits of downtime hanging out with the characters at that point, between those events. Do enough to establish who these characters are and what they mean to one another, get to this big turning point with the plot, and then let’s have moments of hanging out with the characters and building upon what we know.
In addition to this I have two smaller “complaints” and one minor note, should the appropriate person read this, for whoever ends up making formatting decisions in the sequel and future editions.
The temporal setting, the when in time that this novel takes place, is quite ambiguous for most of the first half of the book while we’re getting to know the characters (technology or lack thereof isn’t highlighted, major events in history aren’t brought up, etc.) so it could be any time… until one of the teens said “amazeballs,” which puts it in the first decade of the 21st century, likely at least indirectly in contact with North American pop culture through media or internet access. Then later on the same character sees a working electric light for the first time. I struggle to reconcile in my mind that a pair of teenagers being held in near-isolation in a circus in the Middle East in a time and/or location that doesn’t have electric lighting would have come across the phrase amazeballs.
I was also disappointed that despite the title and cover of this book hanging a lamp on the whole Egyptian goddess thing and the fact that this book is set in Israel, the main characters don’t seem to have any prior knowledge of the Egyptian pantheon. It felt like a matter of plot convenience that a 13 and 14-year-old in Israel (apparently in the 21st century) were completely in the dark on this topic.
My note for anyone involved in formatting future books and editions is to avoid switching to fancy script fonts when characters read something written in a letter or on a sign, as these are difficult-to-impossible for individuals with certain learning disabilities to decipher, and at least two of these occurrences contained vital information that was not repeated or implied later on in the regular text.
Despite these flaws, overall Moon in Bastet did prove to be an amazing story and the second half was nearly perfect. I look forward to the sequel, Sun in Annubis, and hope to review that title as well.
Elizabeth Danon received her B.S. in Marine Science from Stony Brook University before working as a Marine Biologist for the National Marine Fisheries Service. She traveled the U.S. Eastern Seaboard and Gulf of Mexico: collecting data aboard commercial fishing vessels and dredges.
When that didn’t pan out to be the glorified job that she expected, finding herself covered in shark snot and fish scales daily, Elizabeth became a technical writer. In her spare time, she began doing standup comedy after taking comedy bootcamp with the Armed Services Arts Partnership. At this time, she married the most wonderful man who also provides most of her joke writing material. Unfortunately, because he’s Indian he has also enabled her Maggi addiction… Like she needed that on top of her already long-standing iced coffee issues.
Her favorite show is Schitt’s Creek, as she feels a special bond to her fellow comedians – and Sephardic brethren. Growing up half-Jewish herself, Elizabeth eventually converted to being full-Jewish with Temple Israel as a student of Rabbi Panitz.
Her enriched, but complicated, heritage has been an inspiration for most of her creative writing. Being an Aries, she has always felt like a leader and has therefore integrated her feminist beliefs into her work, albeit dropping every women’s studies course that she ever elected in college. Additionally, her writing has an unmistakable international presence. Elizabeth wanted to discover as much as she could about her Sephardic Heritage and went on Birthright, followed by her independent travels to over ten other countries… carrying nothing but a red bookbag.
One lucky follower of the tour will walk away with a $10 Amazon gift card. Check out other stops on this tour for more opportunities to enter! Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway.a Rafflecopter giveaway
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