Here is what is really bothering me about this book right now: the first in the series was on one of the library reading lists for teens. I was trying to help a teen boy who’d read many of the popular series. He said, looking at the cover, “Oh. It’s a girl book.” Like this one, it features a large, beautiful photo of a girl. I have to say, as a “girl”, I find the cover appealing. But I don’t think it is a “girl book”. Yes, Digger is a girl, and yes, there’s a wee bit of romance. But mostly, it’s politics, spying, assassinations and murders – stuff I think my young patron would really enjoy if only he could get past the cover. If you’ve read the book, what do you think? Thoughts on covers limiting the potential audience?
Liar’s Moon by Elizabeth C. Bunce.
This is the sequel to Starcrossed, which I very much enjoyed last year. Our heroine, known variously as Celyn, Digger and Mouse, is back in the city, despite knowing that it’s really not a safe place for her to be. She’s out doing some perfectly straightforward thieving work one evening when she’s roughed up, arrested and thrown in the jail cell of Durrel Decath, the handsome noble who saved her life at the beginning of the first book. He’s in – but he claims unjustly – for the murder of his wife, the much older Talth Ceid, member of the powerful merchant family with mafia-like tendencies. This means that Digger can’t just try to get him out (as if that were simple); she also has to prove his innocence, or the Ceid family will be even worse for his health than the dank jail cell. The next morning, her bail is posted by her roommate, who was given the money and anonymous note telling him where she is. Her arrest, she learns, was a set-up by Durrel’s friend Raffin, recently and puzzingly a Greenman, or member of the Inquisition, solely to get Digger interested in proving Durrel’s innocence. In trying to solve the mystery, Digger uncovers a tangle of politics and mysterious people, including the beautiful Koya Ceid, the young and beautiful married daughter of the dead Talth. There are missing Sarists, the illegal magic users; the mystery of why Durrel’s father isn’t trying to help; unaccountable food shortages throughout the city; and rumors of the rebellion Digger was aiding in the first book advancing towards the city. Lots of politics, intrigue, danger, close escapes, Digger learning more about her own magic, and dramatic settings from the jail to high-class parties to the temple Digger’s thief god. Also just a hint of romance, as Digger might finally accept that the lover who was killed at the beginning of the first book a year ago is really not coming back. This really is perfect small-scale politics: the fate of the nation is really at stake, but there’s only a small handful of major players, mostly all known personally, turning the wheels for everyone else. There are only a couple of flat-out villains, including the dead Talth. Everyone else is a nicely real mixture of good and good motives gone bad. Everything fits together just so, and while Durrel may be saved by the end of the book, I was happy to read that it looks like there is more in store for Digger.