A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Most characters are real historical figures, so readers will learn a bit about their relationships to Louis XIV and their positions in his court. Some insight into daily life in the late 1600s for the courtiers and people who served them. Afterword has information about real-world sea creatures that influenced author's fantasy creatures and details about her research into the people and time period, with resources.
Have the courage of your convictions and never stop fighting for what's right; you just might have more influence for good than you think. Doing what's right and good for its own sake will reward you with happiness. Greed and lust for power and glory only lead to destruction and ruin.
Positive Role Models
Marie-Josephe is a good model for courage, empathy, curiosity, perseverance. She wants to understand the world around her and pursue academic study. She's a talented artist and musician who never gives up trying to help others, even at great cost to herself. Count Lucien is a good model of compassion, integrity, perseverance. He's very diplomatic, always honest, and chooses to do what's right even if it means giving up everything. No truly evil characters, but some are blinded by faith, lust for power, greed.
Most characters are White, and at that place and time having the palest skin possible was highly prized. Lucien, the king's right-hand man, is a positive representation of physical difference. Odelette/Haleed is a positive representation of an enslaved person from Turkey. Madame calls herself fat and is a positive representation for body size. Two men, one a positive character and the other negative, are in a sexual relationship and possibly bisexual, since one is married and has children and the other makes sexual overtures to women.
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Violence & Scariness
Fantasy violence involves self-aware, mermaid-like sea creatures who are hunted, tortured, killed, confined. A story of an attack on them implies rape. A mating gathering is attacked by men and includes dropping explosives into the water and running over the creatures with the ship. Pain and suffering are described, blood is mentioned. Sexual violence in the real world includes an assault that mentions a man's naked buttocks and writhing on a bed. Other sexual assaults like cupping breasts, pinching buttocks, pulling at clothes. Discussion of a man's past rape of his wife, after which the woman killed herself. A traditional hunt on land has violent descriptions of shooting many animals; animals panic and die from being trampled. Large cats used to capture an escaped sea creature, biting feet and neck. Pistols, swords, whips are used to threaten. A doctor performs a bloodletting against the patient's wishes; the patient has to be forcibly restrained. Several references to past physical abuse suffered at the hands of nuns.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A mating of mermaid-like creatures is referred to as an orgy and mentions caressing and arousing. A character sees a couple kissing and groping; the woman's breasts are exposed and kissed while she looks directly at the character and grabs at the man's penis.Through clothing a woman presses her breasts into a man's ribs and rubs his penis with her stomach. A same-sex kiss and a few opposite-sex kisses. Vague but sensual words imply having an orgasm.
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"C--k," "f--k," "f--king," "s--t," "damn," and "bastards."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults of age drink wine and brandy, usually with meals or at parties, with rare slightly drunk behavior as the only excess shown. A couple of instances of cigars, pipes, tobacco smoking along with smell of tobacco smoke. Indigenous Americans present a ceremonial pipe to the king.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Moon and the Sun is a blend of historical fiction and fantasy (originally published in 1997) that takes place in the 50th year of King Louis XIV's reign in the late 1600s. It's the story of a young woman who joins the king's court at Versailles and learns to communicate with a mermaid-like sea creature that the king has captured to eat and thereby gain immortality. The novel was made into a fantasy action-adventure film starring Pierce Brosnan titled The King's Daughter. Fantasy and real-world violence isn't gory but uses emotionally powerful language to describe the pain and suffering of fantasy creatures and animals as they're hunted, tortured, and killed. Blood is mentioned but not described in detail. Real-world violence includes a few instances of sexual assault and a conversation about a marital rape in the past and the victim taking her own life. A character is forcibly restrained and drained of blood against her will. Sexual content isn't explicit but explores some mature themes. A character sees a couple making out, including kissing bare breasts and trying to grab the penis. Mermaid-like fantasy creatures mate in an "orgy" that doesn't describe any activity but mentions caressing and arousal. Otherwise there are a few kisses, caressing non-sensitive body parts, and flirting. There's a couple in a same-sex relationship, and one kiss is seen between them. Strong language is rare but includes "c--k," "f--k," and "s--t." Characters of age at the time drink wine and brandy to mild excess. Smoking tobacco and cigars is mentioned a few times.
Is It Any Good?
This skillful blend of historical fiction and fantasy packs a lot of food for thought into mature themes while still being a compelling read thanks to a believable, likable main character. Although The Moon and the Sun wasn't marketed to a young adult audience when it was first published, teens will relate to Marie-Josephe as she struggles for personal freedom, starts to have romantic feelings, and fights for what she knows is right. Suspense builds over the fate of the sea creature, which keeps the pages turning while we explore lots of aspects of humanity and society. Integrity, trust, faith, colonialism, slavery, gender equality, scientific study, power, and even more important themes are explored along the way.
It's a little hard at first to keep track of the large cast of characters, especially since many are called both by their names and by their titles. But there's a helpful list at the front to refer to, and the web of relationships and court positions of historical figures may inspire some readers to learn more about them. The writing is sometimes lyrical, often sensual, and sometimes it just gets the job done, which is no small feat given the scope and breadth of the story and characters.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.