Dragons! Wars! Princes! Moth and Spark tackled the Big Three in fantasy, and for an adventure that spans such a short period of time, it’s jam-packed with magic, action, and romance. Even though I enjoyed the characters as well as the dragons and the magic, I wasn’t completely entranced by this fictional world because of the lack of an extensive plot, the loose ends, the slow pacing, and the excessive romance.
War is coming to the small kingdom of Caithen, and Emperor Hadon of the Empire – with his control over the dragons – is thought to be involved. Prince Corin of Caithen has been called forth by the dragons to free them from the Empire, but they haven’t exactly told him how to free them. With his newly acquired dragon powers and the help of the beautiful Tam Warin (who also seems to have mysterious powers of her own), Corin has to find a way to save Caithen, free the dragons, and get the girl.
The majority of Moth and Spark is devoted to Corin and Tam’s relationship – and why not? They’re strong, beautiful, funny, and smart, and prone to love at first sight (with each other). They’re like the Homecoming King and Queen, except in the Homecoming Prince and Commoner way. Individually, they make good protagonists; together, they’re an explosion of historical romance mush.
His glance slid to the face of the face of the woman next to her, and he nearly stopped in his tracks; she was stunning, black-haired and slender with the most astonishingly beautiful face he had ever seen. She had not been at court before; he would have remembered her. Their eyes met. She blushed and looked down. He felt hot. He kept walking and hoped no one had noticed.
I got kind of annoyed by Corin’s obsession with Tam’s lapis blue eyes and Tam’s continuous criticism of her fellow courtiers. But other than that, the two protagonists are mostly likable, and their family and friends are also very loyal and understanding.
In terms of the plot, the first half of Moth and Spark is pretty slow-paced; the latter half of the book, in contrast, is full of the action and adventure and battles that got me excited and engrossed. Leonard wove an intricate political scheme leading up the war, and I wish that the same intensity and vigor could have been felt in the first half of the story. The plot also seems relatively short-term with a very single-minded quest, which is regrettable because of all the possibilities that Moth and Spark could have taken on.
Moth and Spark also has a lot of potential when it comes to the incorporation of magic, but unfortunately, didn’t follow through with it. For example, villagers start to see creepy, magical, and supernatural events, which I assumed would be the big merger between the non-magical world and the magical world and the invasion of magical beings. Tam describes it best:
“… I think maybe it’s like looking at water under a lens, it’s full of living things, moving, in their own world, and they’re there even when we can’t see them, they’ve been there all along and only in the last two centuries have we learned to see.”
But these “things” don’t really play a role in the story. They’re mentioned, they appear briefly, and then poof! They’re never spoken of again. The focus on the magnificence and power of the dragons alleviates some of my concerns about magic, but I also wish that the dragons had more personality and emotions instead of just being beasts that mind-speak through flashing pictures.
This is a book that teeters between OK and likable for me; despite its shortcomings, Moth and Spark still managed to entertain me with its moth symbolism, witty exchanges, and magical themes. I wasn’t a fan of the historical romance-esque interactions between the two protagonists, but the action scenes are thrilling. More dragons please!