Thursday, November 18, 2010

Young Adult: Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin

Avery Hood’s parents were killed brutally in front of her, but she can’t remember a thing. The family lived near the forest next to the small historic town of Woodlake, where there has been a constant argument going between the pro and anti-development lobbies. Avery’s parents were environmentalists who recycled everything and fought to keep the woods. Is this what caused their murder? What about the strange stories about the town’s foundation and the wolves who were more than wolves?

Avery starts to wonder about all of this when she learns that gorgeous new boy at school Ben Dusic is a werewolf. But Ben has a bond with her; each knows what the other is feeling. They’re in love. He has even saved her life. Can he possibly be her parents’ murderer?

Low Red Moon (Bloomsbury) is a paranormal romance with the emphasis on the romance. I liked the fact that when Avery asks Ben how long he has been 17, he says about six months and that he expects to be 18, 19 and so on. One can have enough of the vampires who have been 17 for a hundred or more years and are still romancing teenage girls. Ben is a boy -- one who has had as much tragedy in his life as Avery has, losing his parents and sisters to werewolf hunters -- but still a boy. I suspect the author is having a cheeky poke at the vampire romances in that scene, before turning back to the drama. There’s also a murder mystery here and the clues are scattered through the book, as they should be.

The only thing I found irksome was not the novel itself, but the tendency to print the word “moon” in red letters every time. It’s unclear why. At one point in the novel, Ben tells Avery that actually, the only effect the full moon has on him is to make it impossible to change back before dawn, so he tries not to change on those nights. So why all those red “moons” in the text as if they were somehow significant? Let the author tell her own story -- she does it well.

Girls will enjoy this. Although it reads like a stand-alone story, there are ends left untied that suggest a sequel. They’ll like that too. ◊

Sue Bursztynski lives in Australia, where she works as a teacher-librarian. She has written several books for children and young adults, including Crime Time: Australians Behaving Badly and, most recently, the YA novel Wolfborn. Her blog The Great Raven can be found at

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