Valley of the Moon by Bronwyn Archer (ARC Review)

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Kindle Price: $2.99

Official Rating: 4/5

Synopsis:

“There’s just one semester left at the Briar School for Girls in Sonoma, CA. But it will take more than straight As for Lana Goodwin to survive . . .

***
Senior year is not going well for 17-year-old Lana Goodwin. Her father’s vintage car business is about to crash and burn, the nicest (and cutest) teacher at school was fired under a cloud of scandal, and her hot sort-of boyfriend may or may not have something big to hide.

She’s also totally over being the class pauper. It’s bad enough her dad was briefly married to the head of the board—the rich, cruel, impeccably groomed Ramona Crawford. What’s worse is going to school with her vindictive ex-stepsister, who never misses an opportunity to make her life hell. Not ever.

It also happens to be the tenth anniversary of her mother’s suicide. No one knows why Annie Goodwin jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge the day after Christmas. She didn’t leave a note. She wasn’t sick. Even Lana’s father can’t explain it. Ten years later, someone—or something—starts sending her clues about her mother’s past.

Before Lana can escape to college, she finds herself in a life-or-death race to uncover her mother’s long-buried secrets.

Can she claim her birthright before her future and her life are snatched away?

Valley of the Moon is a modern-day fairy tale with some intense themes.

A contemporary YA romantic mystery for ages 14 and up.”

My Review:

TRIGGER WARNING: Mention of rape and child abuse

 

I did not like Valley of the Moon. “But wait, Paige. You gave it 4 stars?” Yes, I did. The reason for the rating is quite simple. Even though I didn’t like it, the book still was written well.

The writing was excellent. I loved the similes Archer included like, “His face blurred, like a wet photograph smeared by a thumb…” and “The sound of her heels was like a metronome in the quiet showroom. TICK TICK TICK TICK.” Archer’s writing style is sound and keeps a steady pace. I could see the different reactions of characters and imagine the details provided as if I was watching a movie. The dialogue was great too with realistic responses that varied from character to character.

Of all the characters, I liked Lana the best. I felt that she was strong, even though life had beat her like eggs, put her in a frying pan, and then scrambled her. I didn’t agree with some of the choices she’d made, or the way she would ignore obvious issues, but she was still a good character. I can’t say I can relate to her, but I’m sure some people can.

I think only Lana’s little step-sister was a plot pushing character, since she isn’t truly necessary except a few times. Otherwise, all of the other characters were well-developed and had unique personalities that were obviously well thought out.

I honestly didn’t hate Cressida, who is Lana’s older step-sister, the one mentioned in the synopsis. Maybe I should have, but I didn’t. All of the things she did were wrong, but there was something about her that didn’t make me full-on hate her. Not yet, at least.

There were psychic and ghost and paranormal stuff that I wasn’t aware of and by the time I reached it, it would have been painful to drop the book. I had spent a night and my entire day trying to finish the book and I didn’t want to lose all my hard work. I didn’t feel like it was necessary and it seemed like a cheap way to keep the plot moving without explaining much about the strange occurrences.

The plot was complicated and usually I like that, but this time I didn’t like it as much as usual. Sometimes it was confusing, following a giant family tree, and there just always seemed to be some kind of bad twist. Archer also adamantly refused to allow Lana to have just one good day and instead tormented her relentlessly and it made me feel rather sad. At first, I wanted her to win just once, but then I started to get annoyed that nothing good would happen to her. Every now and then maybe something exciting would happen and she would feel momentary joy, but soon after her joy would crash and burn. I also didn’t see the “plenty of romance” that was promised. There was some romance, but it wasn’t good. I suppose to say anything more would be a spoiler.

(Rape Mention Begins Here!)

There is rape in this story that I really hated. It didn’t add anything to the plot and was rather brushed over until some anger was needed. I don’t believe that there could be any “good reason” as to why a rape is in a book, unless it’s a biography of some sort. The rapist, didn’t even seem to remember it and Archer had some other catastrophe take place at the same time in order to avoid any conversation about it. I didn’t like it. I hated this. And it really ticks me off when authors don’t include trigger warnings like this in the synopsis. It isn’t fair to any reader to have them read a book that could be potentially triggering without warning them immediately. It’s just wrong.

(Rape Mention Ended)

Sex is also a theme in the book, and while there were no explicit scenes, there were some flashbacks and a scene that explains what Lana is seeing. Nothing that seemed to carry the intent of making things tingle, bebut they were slipped in and uncomfortable and unnecessary.
Would I Recommend Valley of the Moon? I would not. At least, not to my friends because I know their tastes are fairly similar to mine and they wouldn’t enjoy it. Unlike what both the Goodreads and Amazon synopses say, this book is not, under any circumstances, suitable for ages 14 and up. It is not. I wouldn’t recommend Valley of the Moon to anyone under 18. I won’t discourage any of you from reading it, but I publicly beseech you: Do not read Valley of the Moon if you can be triggered by rape, stalking, a sex slavery mention, and child abuse. It is graphic and there are multiple flashbacks and I would hate for any of you to suffer.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review via XpressoBookTours.

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2 thoughts on “Valley of the Moon by Bronwyn Archer (ARC Review)

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