I really wanted to like this more, after the strong recommendation I got for it from Saladin Ahmad, but it was so weirdly annoying! It was very hard for me to believe that a 500 year-old witch who had been instrumental in helping to maintain the health and happiness of a large populace through one-on-one interactions could be so absolutely bone-headed in raising her own child. And I’m not saying that parenting is easy — I have an absolutely lovely 7 year-old and adorable 4 year-old twins who are a trial — and I absolutely 100% believe that discipline is hard but it felt like Xan just didn’t even try to get Luna to focus before locking away all her magic with a half-assed spell. I get it, children are exhausting, especially if you’re no spring chicken, but there was a distinct element of “oh, Luna is too lively for me to contain through actual parenting” that I found exceptionally irritating.
There were some fun twists on the typical fairy tale, and I thought the parable of the Protectorate and its politicians to be quite apt for our present times, but the book felt a little too pleased with its idea of its own cleverness overall. I suppose I might have liked it as a young reader, but as a parent, I thought it was pretty meh, and I’m usually a sucker for the parent-who-will-do-anything-for-their-child storyline, of which this book had not just one but two!