Moth is a fantasy world that has stopped turning, leaving half in permanent daylight and half in darkness. A very tiny world it must be, since it takes only a couple of hours to walk from the light side, through the bit of dusk, and into deep darkness. The people who live in the light don’t believe anybody lives in the dark and vice versa, even though a short walk would prove them wrong. There are so many unbelievable aspects to this idea that I read it as an allegory. However, by the time I got to the end, I realised that I was mistaken. The villain who looks like a serpent, the king clonking around in plate armour, the revolting peasants, the main characters who behave and speak like twelve year olds, the inexplicable demi-global crusade to destroy non-existant people in the dark world, are meant to be taken at face value. Seriously.
I had been going to write a review on the strength of the second part of the story set in the dark half, a Medieval Japanese style society. The heroine Koyee Mai I found touching and sympathetic, if you ignore the Taxi Driver transformation she undergoes in the closing stages. The descriptions of the river, the city with its fantastic buildings and ugly mean streets, it’s palaces, graveyards, quiet market squares, and opium dens are beautiful. The whole of this dark world is lit by lanterns. Even the fish glow with light, and it really is quite lovely. But because I found the book so unbalanced, the characters from the daylight world so excruciatingly awful with a female lead who needed somebody to wrap her golden plaits round her neck and strangle her with them, the whole plot so full of holes it’s astonishing the entire cast didn’t just disappear, I won’t.
I’d recommend it for Koyee Mai’s story and a dip into her world which is the greater part of the book. Moth seems to be permafree so all it costs is your time. It’s the first of a long series, which I shall not be reading. Unfortunately, the awful Bailey is not eliminated in the terrible battles at the end of the book, so will no doubt be wiggling her plaits, shoving her finger into people’s chests and bullying and demeaning her so-called friends all the way through the series.