A Trace of Moonlight is the third installment in the Abby Sinclair urban fantasy series by Allison Pang. The second book, A Sliver of Shadow, ended in a huge cliffhanger. I will admit that I’m not a huge cliffhanger fan, which is why sometimes in an urban fantasy series I will wait until I have several books in a row and then read them back to back. Yes, I know, it’s like cheating, but it keeps me from throwing books against walls and being completely frustrated. I absolutely loved the first book in the series, and when I read the reviews about the second book and heard about this cliffhanger I made the executive decision to wait and read book two and three together.
At the end of A Sliver if Shadow Abby has, once again, sacrificed herself for her friends and family. She has agreed to be the tithe to the Devil in exchange for the lives of Brystion and Talivar and has brokered a deal with the Unseelie Court in order to help the Queen. She ended up being tricked and in the last paragraph is forced to drink a potion that will erase her memory of everything. It seems like Abby is always giving so much of herself for everyone else, and getting so very little back. In fact, the only friend she has that even comes close to being completely loyal to her is her wonderful sidekick, Phineas. The impression I was left with at the end of the second book was that Abby has all these supposed friends, and lovers and family who she gives her all to, but who never give their all back. It makes me feel a little sad for her.
In the opening of A Trace of Moonlight, Abby is wandering through the dreaming unaware of who she is, while in the meantime her friends are looking for a loophole so that they can free her and give her back her memory. Of course, when she overhears their plans she thinks the worst and inadvertently sets off a chain of events that include her death, betrothal and losing the Key to the Crossroads to her enemy. This being the end of the story arc, everyone must come together to help Abby finally defeat Maurice and save all of Faery.
As much as I loved the first book, I didn’t love the second book so much. It was just okay for me. In fact some of the humor was missing and I desperately wanted someone to actually prove that they give a shit about Abby. She just seems to give and give and give while everyone just takes from her. Her Dad is a complete ass, no one ever seems to tell her the whole story and she is constantly put in these positions where she has to make yet another sacrifice to save everyone. A Trace of Moonlight gave me everything I wanted. People coming together, her lovers making sacrifices FOR HER, a better sense of why the people around her make the decisions that they do, and finally a feeling that things will work out.
The world-building in this series is simply amazing. I love the thought of all the different paths and how they interact with each other. We are constantly bounced back and forth between the Dreaming, running through Faery, and walking the Crossroads. Every character is given life changing decisions to make and choices that will ultimately decide the fate of not only themselves but, everyone around them. There is a lot of emotion packed into these pages. We see not only Abby’s personal story wrapping up, but those of Robert, Charlie and Moira, and Melanie and Nobu. The love triangle Abby’s been involved in with Brystion and Talivar is all mixed up and left me confused about who I wanted her to end up with. I usually have a favorite whom I root for the heroine to choose throughout a series. Not so here, Talivar is understated but princely and Brystion sexy and intense. They both seem to prove in this installment that they really love Abby, and Abby can’t decide who she wants and who she will give up. I’m still not sure if I love the ending that was given, or how other readers will react to it. I get the feeling that this is supposed to be the last book in the series… but, the ending leaves off in a way where I can see more books, maybe with a new story arc, continuing the series.
My favorite character in this series is Phineas. He is probably the best sidekick in any urban fantasy series anywhere. How do you not love a horndog miniature unicorn who says things like this:
“Just think,” Phineas piped up from my arms. “Now you’re sisters twice over.” He ignored the sour look the three of us sent his way, giving an equine shrug. His beard waggled at us. “Calling it like I see it – you know what they say right? If you can’t keep it in your pants, keep it in the fam—”
He let out a squeal as I yanked on the offending bit of fluff.
“Social security? Please. Tough is not being able to walk into the Spank Bank and pick out my own movies. At least you look human.” Phineas clambered onto one of the extra chairs, his nose quivering. “Think maybe you could ‘just say’ some more bacon my way?”
I shoved the remaining slices in his direction, slumping against my own chair. “Why don’t you just use the Internet for your porn like everyone else?”
The unicorn fixed me with a cool stare. “You really want to see my browser history pop up every time you go to check your email?”
Or my favorite:
”Bah. Mr Sword-Up-the-Ass wanted aged dragon cheese or something. We don’t have that.”
“Do dragons even produce a dairy product?” I frowned at the thought, trying to remember if I’d ever seen it on the inventory.
“Hell if I know.” His face became sly.” I told the little lady if she rubbed my belly I’d make her a unicorn milkshake, though.”
Phin is constantly hitting on hedgehogs and goats, getting into Abby’s underwear drawer, biting asses, and making crude jokes, but he has been Abby’s most constant friend and the most loyal character throughout the series. I enjoyed the banter between him and Abby so much that sometimes I laughed out loud at some of their conversations.
All in all, this was an awesome addition to the series. It’s action packed and full of emotion. It most definitely should be read in order, there is an over all story arc that starts in book one and finishes in A Trace of Moonlight. For those readers that were slightly disappointed with book two I would say give this one a try, it is well worth it. I’m hoping that this author continues on with books in this world, but even if she doesn’t I will most certainly be adding her to my auto-buy list.
She put her arm around me and the two of us sat there for a moment, two mortals caught up in a whirlwind of OtherFolk magic.
“We’re pretty fucked, aren’t we?” she said finally.
“Probably. Suppose we ought to do something about it, eh?”