Revenge and Choice in “A Creature of Moonlight”

Rebecca Hahn’s A Creature of Moonlight is a beautifully written tale of a young girl finding and making her home and her destiny. In a world where everything is chosen for young women, many have been drawn to the magical forests in an attempt to escape their seemingly inevitable destinies. Once these young women enter the forest, they are never seen or heard from again.

This is the case for all except one. Marni’s mother came back from the forest, pregnant, but otherwise unharmed. But when her brother discovers her pregnancy, he tracks her down and her young child. He kills her, and threatens to kill Marni too, but she is saved by her Grandfather, the king, who trades his kingdom for her life.

After growing up near the forests, Marni is being pulled between two worlds: that of the magical forest where her father, a dragon, lives, and that of the kingdom to which she is the sole heir.

Hahn does an excellent job of telling this original fairytale through a feminist lens, focusing on a woman’s right to choose her own destiny, and the importance of that choice.

(Warning! Some minor spoilers lie ahead).

Interesting as this overarching theme was, I was also intrigued by the minor theme of revenge and retaliation. Marni, understandably, wants revenge for the deaths caused by her evil uncle, and decides to join his court in order to carry it out. But somehow her plans for revenge get pushed farther and farther back, until she realizes that the complexities of life, of humanity, result in a better revenge than she could ever have planned herself.

I loved the themes within this book, and I loved the premise. Really, anything with dragons automatically gets brownie points in my book. I love dragons.

This book does cover a lot of time in a short amount of pages, which did leave me feeling a little distanced from the characters at times, but overall it worked. The pacing contributed to the tone of the book in the best possible way. The result was that the book felt like a whole and complete story of a large portion of life, rather than just a story about a single adventure or event. Combined with overarching themes about the changeableness of humanity, and this book felt like an artful and enjoyable commentary on society and human nature.

If you are looking for a good fairytale book to read, with minimal romance, and feminist themes, this is an excellent book for you. I really enjoyed Hahn’s messages and the very original story she told.

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