Single Sundays: The Moonlight Blade by Tessa Barbosa

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for The Moonlight Blade (from Goodreads):
I promised my mother I would never come to Bato-Ko…and yet here I am.

Narra Jal is one of the cursed, cast aside her whole life, considered unlucky. But with her mother’s life on the line, she will return to the city where she was born to face the trials: a grueling, bloodthirsty series of challenges designed to weed out the weak, the greedy, and the foolish. Trials to select the next ruler of Tigang.

Narra has nothing. No weapons. No training. No magic. No real chance of leaving with her life. Just her fierce grit and a refusal to accept the destiny she’s been handed. Even the intense, dark-eyed Guardian she feels a strangely electric connection with cannot help her. Narra is on her own. But she’ll show everyone what the unlucky can do.

Let the bloodbath begin.


SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author
Author: Tessa Barbosa
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Action, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: March 21, 2023
Source & Format: Netgalley–ARC


Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

The tagline “Let the bloodbath begin” hooked me in when I read the release for this novel. I loved the idea of a competition for the next ruler of the country and the hint of a possible romance with a forbidden Guardian. It sounded like a fast-paced standalone novel and I was all for it!

The Concept / The World:

I will admit to being a little lost at the start of this. I felt like I was thrown into a world that I should already know and understand. But as the story progressed, and the competition began, things began sliding into place making it more enjoyable to read. I would love to read more about the author’s influences and inspiration for the world itself. It seems like a fascinating history.

The Plot:

I picked up this book for the competition aspect. I thought that it would be a suspenseful, possibly dangerous aspect to the story and I was looking forward to that. Unfortunately, the competition is not the main focus of this story. Instead, the narrative shifts to uncovering Narra’s past and how she truly fits into this world. Which is interesting, no doubt, and I appreciated the many layers and elements that weaved together to bring a different type of suspense to the story. But when the tagline is “Let the bloodbath begin”, let’s just say I expected a little more competition action.

The Characters:

I liked Narra enough. She’s your typical “take on the world” heroine but I enjoyed watching her open up to people as well as her learning from her mistakes. She is a bit of a mystery thanks to the plot but I liked trying to figure out as the novel progressed.

The Romance:

While not a huge aspect, it was there enough to add to the story.

My Rating: 3/5


I think this book’s marketing does it a slight disservice. I think a lot of people are going to pick it up thinking it’s a fast-paced action read when it really is a slow building mystery. If you go in with the right expectations, I think you will enjoy it more.

Read if You Like: reincarnations, uncovering the past plots
Avoid if You: want more action

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