Book Review: “When The Moon Was Ours” by Ann-Marie McLemore

Warning: If you haven’t read “When The Moon Was Ours” by Anna-Marie McLemore, don’t read this review if you don’t want any spoilers!

Cover of "When the Moon Was Ours" by Anna-Marie McLemore.
Cover of “When the Moon Was Ours” by Anna-Marie McLemore.

I’m back with another book review, and to continue the romance in the air for February, I’m reviewing “When The Moon Was Ours” by Anna-Marie McLemore this time! Here’s a summary so we know what it’s about:

“To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town. But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.”

Character Development: 5 out of 5 stars

The diversity of characters’ identities is made pretty clear, and in fact, the notion of identity itself is made a main plot point in the book. Not only do we have one transgender character, Sam, who is one of two main proagonists, but Aracely is also revealed to be a transwoman. Their character development does not come from just figuring out their identities alone, however, but they also have more hidden depths. Aracely has the magical service of basically mending people’s hearts and literally taking away their heartbreak, for instance. Coming back to the notion of diversity, the book also makes it pretty clear early on that the characters are people of colour through some well-written description.

Miel was also well written. Even when she’s being manipulated by the Bonner sisters, it’s clear that Miel still fights to do the right thing. She doesn’t give up, whether it be trying to prevent things from getting worse, trying to make the situation better than it is at the moment, or fixing things when things do fall apart. She carries her admirable fighting spirit that into her relationships with the other characters, and even standing up against the Bonner sisters herself late in the book.

Plot Development: 4.5 out of 5 stars

When it came to the plot overall, it can be a little hard to follow at times, largely because of the ethereal nature of the writing and the uncertainty over what is actually happening and what is metaphorical. The writing style reminds me hugely of “A Song For Ella Grey” because of the fairytale-like imagery and all the metaphors and uncertainty going on.

Romance Development: 4 out of 5 stars

Despite this book clearly being a romance book, I actually found it hard to connect with the romance involved between Miel and Sam. I feel it is partially due to the writing style, but I also felt that the sex scenes came way too soon. We only have about a few chapters outlining how they met, how they started bonding with each other and then—boom, sex scene happens. We have about two or three sex scenes after this, all of them tastefully written, but I do think the first one just came too soon for these two characters. It felt like they just randomly hooked up with no real reason to, and that just took away from the romance a little too much.

Other than that, however, I thought that the development of their romance was pretty interesting. The book makes it clear that they knew each other for quite a while before they started really getting romantic with each other, so the book clearly doesn’t fall into the ‘fall-in-love-at-first-sight-and-then-start-having-sex-immediately’ trap. How Miel and Sam deal with their growing relationship, as well as the fact that the Bonner sisters end up manipulating Miel to make her give up her roses to them so that they won’t out Sam to the rest of the town, is also well written.

Overall, I’m rating this book 4.5 out of 5 stars! 

This rating is because of the slightly bad timing of sex scenes and occasionally-hard-to-follow plot preventing a full score. If you want a diverse romance, diverse characters, and metaphorical and poetic writing, this is definitely the book for you!

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