REVIEW: When the Moon Hatched by Sarah A. Parker

When the Moon Hatched grew a passionate following on TikTok when it originally launched earlier in the year. It resonated so well with audiences that HarperVoyager UK and Avon US snapped it up immediately – and now When the Moon Hatched is getting a re-birth across the globe. Deservedly so, it is compelling, dark and most of all, fun to read. I love how dragons are having a moment – this is the third dragon book I’m covering for Grimdark Magazine this year and I’m here for them all.

When the Moon Hatched Raeve is an assassin for the rebellion… And we meet her just as she loses everything. Her friend, dead, her captured by the Guild of Nobles – powerful fae. It wouldn’t be a good novel if the story ended there, though. She soon meets Kaan, a brokenhearted dragon rider and together they find truths that might unravel everything they know about the world and themselves. The story is interspersed with diary entries from a long gone woman’s childhood and youth. When the Moon Hatched doesn’t do anything revolutionary with plot or characters, nevertheless, it is a very compelling and fast-moving story with a focus on characters.

When the Moon Hatched does well balancing hints with reveals, keeping the reader in the dark for much of the story. And I loved how the title ended up being quite literal. Raeve knows exactly who she is at the start of the story … as the book goes on, she loses that grounding in her identity and we spend most of the story with her trying to reconcile “should” with “be”, finding herself again. It is surprisingly un-spicy for Romantasy, which I found to be a great plus, focusing on relationships and emotional growth over carnal desire. This might not work for everyone, but it did for me.

Looking at When the Moon Hatched from a grimdark perspective, there is much the reader will appreciate. We start out with death and betrayal, follow an assassin and revolutionary and go on to destroy and rebuild her world again and again in a metaphorical sense. The setting takes a lot of inspiration from the Romans – complete with a coliseum where convicts are executed via dragon. The story is dark, the characters constantly juggling and re-evaluating their morals and fighting for a future less fraught than the status quo.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the beautiful chapter header illustrations. As far as I’m aware these are kept in every edition. Well-designed books (and illustrations) tend to get me swooning and this was no different. They illustrate the book really well and just made me very happy every time I came across one while reading – while they’re not narrative, they help round off the reading experience. I enjoyed When the Moon Hatched greatly as a popcorn read and am looking forward to seeing how it’ll impact the genre.

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Fabienne Schwizer

Fabienne Schwizer

Fabienne can usually be found with her nose in a book or two. Most of her life revolves around words, be that reading, writing, or editing. You can find more of her ramblings over on www.libridraconis.com, where she also reviews YA books and more lighthearted Fantasy and Science Fiction, as @FLSchwizer on Twitter, and @libri_draconis on Instagram. If you're curious about what she is currently reading, check out www.goodreads.com/libridraconis.

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