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  • Brilliant

    Moon In Bastet is, as the official synopsis indicates, a fictionalization of the author's life leading into a supernatural adventure that is steeped in Jewish traditions and mysticism. As a lover of cats, the title and cover hooked me. As a former history student and simply someone who is curious and fascinated by world religions, I stayed with this book because of the unique way it set about teaching me more about Judaism. As a lover of science fiction and fantasy novels, the interdimensional travel and mystic battle to survive were the cherry on top of this rich cake. I particularly enjoyed the complicated relationship between the main child characters, Eva and Jack, and of course I loved Eva's relationship with her special cat. I can't remember now if the cat Andy was described in detail or not, but in my mind's eye, he's a chocolate (brown) Burmese. Without spoiling anything, I'd like to admit at this point that I've asked both my cats if they're keeping the same secrets Andy kept. So far they have not answered, but I suspect Pebbles knows exactly what I'm talking about. In all seriousness, I very much enjoyed this book. I think it will empower Jewish kids, Middle Eastern kids, and individuals of feminine persuasion everywhere. This book has important and impactful things to say about sexism, religious freedom, and what it means to be family. After hearing all this praise you may be wondering why I've chosen not to rate this book a full five out of five stars, so let's address that. First, even though mysticism plays an enormous part in this book's plot and message, we don't experience much of it at all for the first half of the book. I understand that there was a lot of set-up to be done, and I am sensitive to the fact that this book is partially autobiographical, but as a stranger to the author with no connection to the real events and experiences that inspired this book, the first half felt quite slow. It felt like at least 100 pages were spent doing nothing but introducing characters and establishing the dynamics between them. I frequently and openly admit to being the type of reader who likes to spend a little extra time just "hanging out" with the characters, but that has to come after the plot has been established. Again without giving specific spoilers, once mysticism really comes in and the plot picks up, there is a series of life or death events that take place. The pacing changed very abruptly at this point, and to an extent that is to be expected, but I found myself wanting to have little bits of downtime hanging out with the characters at that point, between those events. Do enough to establish who these characters are and what they mean to one another, get to this big turning point with the plot, and THEN let's have moments of hanging out with the characters and building upon what we know. In addition to this I have two smaller "complaints" and one minor note, should the appropriate person read this, for whoever ends up making formatting decisions in the sequel and future editions. The temporal setting, the when in time that this novel takes place, is quite ambiguous for most of the first half of the book while we're getting to know the characters (technology or lack thereof isn't highlighted, major events in history aren't brought up, etc.) so it could be any time... until one of the teens said "amazeballs," which puts it in the first decade of the 21st century, likely at least indirectly in contact with North American pop culture through media or internet access. Then later on the same character sees a working electric light for the first time. I struggle to reconcile in my mind that a pair of teenagers being held in near-isolation in a circus in the Middle East in a time and/or location that doesn't have electric lighting would have come across the phrase amazeballs. I was also disappointed that despite the title and cover of this book hanging a lamp on the whole Egyptian goddess thing and the fact that this book is set in Israel, the main characters don't seem to have any prior knowledge of the Egyptian pantheon. It felt like a matter of plot convenience that a 13 and 14-year-old in Israel (apparently in the 21st century) were completely in the dark on this topic. My note for anyone involved in formatting future books and editions is to avoid switching to fancy script fonts when characters read something written in a letter or on a sign, as these are difficult-to-impossible for individuals with certain learning disabilities to decipher, and at least two of these occurrences contained vital information that was not repeated or implied later on in the regular text. Despite these flaws, overall Moon in Bastet did prove to be an amazing story and the second half was nearly perfect. I look forward to the sequel, Sun in Annubis, and hope to review that title as well.

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