Book Review: On a Blue Moon by Willow

Book Review: On a Blue Moon by Willow (R. J. Parker) - a fascinating first book in the Daughters of Firth Tales series

Title: On a Blue Moon

Author: Willow

Publisher: Self-published

Publication date: January 27, 2020

Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy

Summary: Willow is an exceptional individual who has lived across time and space. These are the tales of her life and the lives of those she has known. The first in the Daughter of Firth Tales series, this book documents her early life when she and her mother first encountered an Earth man named Sam and ended up traveling the moon they called home in search of a place they could settle, picking up friends as they went.

When the author contacted me for a review, I was told this novel was of a very different sort. I enjoy different, so I knew I couldn’t pass it up. I didn’t even really read what the book was about; I just knew this was something I had to read. Told by the fictional character Willow, this novel was actually written by R. J. Olson, but I’d rather believe Willow herself wrote this book. I liked that I could put the actual author out of mind while reading this and just become immersed in Willow’s life. One thing to note is that this is the first book in a series, so, while the intention is for Willow to tell multiple stories, this first one focuses on her early life. I’m so very glad I decided to read this. It completely drew me in, and then I loved that it made me absolutely angry at the end because I didn’t want it to end.

The Characters: Delightful

I adored the main characters. There were quite a few characters and, unfortunately, some of them kind of blurred together, but the main characters definitely stood out. They were delightful and so consistent, though they also showed growth. The growth was given in a more tell than show way, though.

I was delighted to meet Willow fairly early on. She was so much fun to read about, always full of boundless energy and ideas seemingly plucked from thin air that both made things happen and kept things interesting. Her exuberance felt infectious and I couldn’t help smiling when reading about her. Sam was a wonderful counterpoint to her. A father figure to her, he was loving and protective. He tempered her antics without smothering her spirit. He was really a wonderful man, a very upright citizen and overall good person. He always did what was right even when it hurt him and was always so protective.

There were many other characters Willow and Sam, and Willow’s mother Flo and Flo’s partner Larry, met. They were a varied bunch with unique personalities that made them fun to read about. There was the very thoughtful and thirsty for knowledge Plato, the faithful and craving love Ruth, the ever-fun loving Curly, and natural leaders Martin and Olivia, among others. I loved reading about how they managed to come together and form a home. They were from different societies on the moon, outcasts in their own settlements because their ideas and beliefs were different from the leaders who had iron fists, but somehow managed to work together to create an inclusive society.

And of course I can’t leave out the creatures. I do believe they were probably my favorite characters. They were so different and clearly had similar societies to the humans. It was fascinating to see human and creature reflected. Rock, named so by Sam because he appeared as a color changing rock when they first met, is probably my favorite. He and Sam had a clear and unique relationship and I loved that they looked out for each other.

The Setting: A Blue Moon

I have no idea where in the universe this story starts, but I do know most of the story takes place on an unnamed moon somewhere out there. There are parts that take place on Earth, but most of it is on that moon.

I was fascinated by the moon. There were rivers and seas and marshes and dunes and what seemed like a jungle. It was an incredible place to read about with probably just as many climates as Earth. I couldn’t always envision where each area was in relation to the others, but I really enjoyed their trek across the moon in search of a permanent home. My favorite part was being introduced to the native creatures. They were so different, but so much fun. They made the moon come alive.

Populated by people who had been brought from Earth during different periods of time, it showcased how the people managed to survive and form societies. It was like some great alien experiment (and maybe it was). Some of it seemed a little absurd, but the explanation given for it also sounded really plausible. It was fascinating to see how the people managed to adapt and live on such a strange world, especially the newest colony of people who had more recently been taken from Earth.

The world felt both barren and alive. It felt like a never-ending stream of rivers, seas, and marshes, but it also made sense as people need water and food to live and the food really only grows where there is water. This is a primitive world with some modern touches. It was utterly fascinating and I hope to return in future books.

The Plot: Beautiful, Yet Tragic

This is the story of outcasts. It is the story of wrongs being righted. It is the story of an odd collection of individuals and creatures coming together to make a home, a life.

I was a little confused at the beginning because we’re introduced to a man named Sam who was canoeing on Earth and then seemed to be abducted by aliens and deposited on some strange world. Since this was supposed to be a story told by Willow, I was wondering where she was. But this is really the story of Sam, and Willow is telling his story, as well as the stories of everyone else she came to love.

The story moved at a great pace and no step ever felt contrived. The story flowed seamlessly from one point to the next. I actually felt like I was reading the story of an actual person. Even what might be considered absurd felt like it belonged. As a matter of fact, those were some of my favorite parts.

This is such a beautiful story. It’s tragic as well, but it’s beauty planted a seed of hope that bloomed. There are instances of rape, murder, and suicide that darken the story. There’s also persecution and prejudice. It’s not always pleasant, but the hearts of Willow and Sam are just so lovely that they always manage to overcome hardships and encourage the friends they find along the way to never give up and always have hope.

I found myself completely engrossed in this story. When I had to put the book down, I counted down to when I could dive back into the world. When I was reading, I dreaded having to stop. I didn’t want it to end. When it did, when I realized I only had about 10% of the book left, I felt angry because I wasn’t ready to leave. I wanted to stay with Sam and Willow and have more adventures with them.

This book was a joy to read. The story was always moving. It did have many, many instances of tell instead of show that felt a bit disruptive, but I enjoyed the story so much I found myself forgiving it all. While this book is unique in how it’s presented, I think the story itself can speak to so many people, especially those who have ever been prayed upon, persecuted, and outcast. This is such a beautiful story of characters who face hardships, but who always manage to persevere and stand up for what they believe and overcome. This is a triumphant story, but it’s also the story of people and creatures who find and form incredible relationships and create lives they can love.

Overall: I Loved It

I loved this book. There’s so much more I could say about it. But I’m not sure I could accurately convey just how much I love it. It was fun, it was thought-provoking, it was tragic, it was beautiful. It made me sad and it made me happy. I adored the characters and was fascinated by the setting. The aliens were the fun part, and the climax of the story was the hard part. But this really is a beautiful story of outcasts banding together as a symbol of hope for change for the better. I hope you’ll pick up this book as well and discover the beauty in it for yourself. I, in the meantime, will be eagerly awaiting the second book.

How many cups of tea will you need?

5 cups would be absolutely perfect

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Thank you so much to the actual author, R. J. Olson, for a free e-copy, and Willow for telling this story. All opinions expressed are my own.

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