Provided for Review: Under the Lesser Moon (The Marked Son #1) by Shelly Campbell

“Dragons once led our people across the wastelands, away from storms, and toward hunting grounds.”

That’s what the elders say, but Akrist has squinted at empty skies his whole life. The dragons have abandoned them, and it’s Akrist’s fault. He’s cursed. Like every other firstborn son, he has inherited the sins of his ancestors. In his camp, he’s the only eldest boy left. Something happened to the others. Something terrible.

When Akrist befriends Tanar, an eldest boy from another tribe, he discovers the awful truth: they’re being raised as sacrifices to appease the Goddess and win back her dragons. The ritual happens when the dual moons eclipse. Escape is the only option, but Akrist was never taught to hunt or survive the wastelands alone. Time is running out, and he has to do something before the moons touch. 

Thank you to Mythos & Ink Publishing for inviting me to this tour and for providing the book.

Trigger Warning: Physical, mental, and emotional abuse; Drug abuse; Sexual abuse; Violence towards an animal; Violence towards a child/children; Murder

Under a Lesser Moon is the first book of Shelly Campbell’s series The Marked Son. Set in a unique world that is part Stone Age and part fantasy, it follows young Akrist and the unique struggles he faces. As a first born son he is an outcast, looked down on by everyone in his clan, his only concern is to try and survive. When another clan joins his and Akrist meets another first born son like himself he learns a terrible truth – first born sons are raised only to be sacrificed when the two moons meet.

Dear reader, I won’t mince words – Under a Lesser Moon is a very dark book. The world that Akrist and his clan lives in is not a friendly one. Survival is a day to day struggle with the possibility of death at every turn.

As dragons are an important part of the story, some might compare Lesser Moon to Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series. Unfortunately, this is not an apt comparison. A better comparison would be to compare Lesser Moon to Jean Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear series.

With Under the Lesser Moon, Campbell has created a new world that is both cruel and beautiful. The characters are well fleshed out and though some of them are not the nicest of people, their actions and ways of thinking are not out of place in the land they inhabit.

As much as I enjoyed reading Under the Lesser Moon, this is not a book I would recommend to everyone. There is a good deal of dark subject matter and there are some scenes that could be triggering. Older readers and readers that are familiar with Auel’s Cave Bear books will likely enjoy this new series. For every one else, proceed with caution but also dare to step out of your comfort zone.

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