Audiobook Review: When The Moon Was Ours



Title: When The Moon Was Ours

Author: Anna-Marie McLemore

Rating: 5/5 stars

Series: No


Book Depository // Amazon //  Booktopia // Audible

When The Moon Was Ours is a mesmerising magical realism that reminds us fairy tales are and magic belong to everyone, regardless of your race, gender, or sexuality. Written in exquisite prose and narrated in rhythmic cadence, here is an audio book I would recommend to anyone who’s ever felt different and unheard. MOON is imbued with love, hope, and dream. It’s the perfect respite from a world filled with intolerance and fear. Given the devastating result of the US elections, we need books and voices like MOON in our lives, now more than ever.


MOON begins with a girl who lost the moon, and a boy who fights every day to bring its light back into her life. The story of Miel and Sam is one well known to their town, turned mythic and strange with numerous retellings. However, the narration takes us beyond the fairy tale of a girl made from water and a boy named Moon. It shows us all the players in the tale in all of their messy, complicated glory. Through the journey these characters undergo, MOON brings in questions that challenges perception of culture, gender identity, and family.

They would remember only that Miel and Sam had been called Honey and Moon, a girl and boy woven into the folklore of this place.

While magical realism is one of my favourite genres, I often find it hard to connect to the characters in these books because they seem stranger than life. This was not the case with MOON. I could identify and empathise with Miel in spite of her numerous secrets, and despite of the roses that perpetually sprout from a wound on her wrist. She lives life on the margins, with the town never quite forgetting her mysterious origin or her roses. I loved seeing her relationship with Aracely shifted and changed, as it constantly redefined the meaning of family. Miel is insecure and often fearful, but she also has a strong core of compassion that guides her every decision – making her a remarkable and memorable heroine.

I love Miel, but it was Sam who totally stole the show for me. Sam is a transgender boy of Pakistani heritage, chapters of his narration contained the beauty of his culture and his paintings – but it also carried his inner conflict and confusion. Ever since he was little, Sam and his mother has used the practice of bacha posh as an excuse for Sam’s identity. MOON explores and challenges that excuse, taking us up close and personal to Sam’s acceptance of his identity. This is a topic close to the Anna-Marie McLemore’s heart, and you can feel her love in every beautifully written sentence. I have to thank her for sharing this deeply personal story with us.

The closer she got to him, the more she felt it in her roses, like a moon pulling on a sea.

MOON is a true sensory experience, with words conjuring up images of moonlit night skies and foiled stars on summer skin. It invades the senses with the scent of spices from Aracely’s kitchen, with the sound of deep rushing water. The writing in MOON is consistently beautiful, but it shined brightest when the focus was on the relationship between Sam and Miel. Where shared glances and touches are seared into the reader’s mind with vivid prose, and feelings are explored in languid, earnest words. Their love was at once slow burning tension and ignited passion, and I thought the book portrayed their relationship beautifully.

The plot in MOON is secondary to its exploration of the character and their development. Nonetheless, I was intrigued by the Bonner sisters and their motives. These girls could have easily turned into caricature villains under a less subtle hand, but MOON manages to grant most of them their own characteristics and inner turmoil. The book was quite slow paced, but I think it was fitting given the embellished, lush writing style.

The audiobook used dual narrators, a male and a female voice, for MOON. I loved both narrators – I felt they captured Miel’s passion and Sam’s calm perfectly. The book’s ornate storytelling also translated very well into an audio experience, it was like hearing someone tell me a deeply personal fairy tale of their life. While I would love to get my hands on a hard copy of the book to tab all my favourite passages soon – I would also highly recommend the audio book.

Finally, I would like to leave you with the dedication page lifted directly from the book, seeing it was what initially convinced me to purchase  the novel – and I hope you will feel the same:

To the boys who get called girls,
the girls who get called boys,
and those who live outside these words.
To those called names,
and those searching for names of their own.
To those who live on the edges,
and in the spaces in between.
I wish for you every light in the sky.

What a pitch perfect and beautiful dedication, and I wish the very same to all you beautiful people out there. You deserve to be heard, you deserve magic, you deserve a happy ending – don’t you let the world tell you otherwise.

I will be sharing some wallpapers inspired by this beautiful book later on in the week! For now, please let me know if you’ve read this book or are planning to read it – also drop me some recommendations of diverse fantasy and magical realism while you’re at it? ❤

31 thoughts on “Audiobook Review: When The Moon Was Ours

    1. I hope you’ll enjoy it, it is such a beautiful book and it’s true to every single word of the dedication 🙂


  1. I’m SO hard to win over when it comes to Magical Realism. The author’s other book The Weight of Feathers was really good, but it just didn’t grab me like it should have. Everything was wonderful, but I just didn’t click with it. So while I’m very curious about this book, I’m a bit hesitant about it. Glad you loved it though! Wonderful review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve read The Weight of Feathers as well and like you, I enjoyed it but it didn’t quite hook me in emotionally. Definitely give this one a go though, it resonated with me in every way!


  2. I’m actually wary of magical realism, so I’ve been teetering back and forth over this book. High praise from you tends to mean it’s worth a look, and the fact that I can grab it as an audiobook is even better! Pretty words are made prettier through narration, if done right. Also, it might actually cheer me up, given the state of things, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You should definitely give this one a go, such beautiful writing and themes 💜 I have seen a couple of reviewers who don’t like magical realism saying it didn’t click with them, but I think reading it through audiobook will help if you don’t like metaphor rich and ornate writing style.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I am definitely picking this up after reading your review. That dedication brought irl tears to my eyes and I do love me some magical realism, plus I really appreciate the diversity here! Thanks for the wonderful review!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. McLemore’s writing is SO BEAUTIFUL! I loved this novel and I’ll definitely be reading whatever she comes up with next. I’m glad you liked it, too.

    And yeah, that dedication is *perfect*. What a wonderful thing to write.


  5. Amazing review, I haven’t actually listened to an audio book before because I struggle to concentrate but this sounds like a great read – I also didn’t realise it featured such Diversity! I’m curious to find out more ❤


  6. loved ur review!! it’s already on my TBR but now im even more excited to read it. as for magical realism recs, an oldie but a goodie is One Hundred Years of Solitude.


  7. I entirely am desperate to read this one!! I’m about to start The Weight of Feathers too because adjskafld I loooove Magical Realism and I need more of it in my life. (Also I can’t wait to see your wallpapers!!)


  8. Hello 🙂 Discovered your blog via Twitter and have to say I love the graphics and images on your blog 🙂 I love floral designs ❤
    This book is on my TBR and I think I'm gonna love it!! The dedication is so beautiful ❤ Great review! As for recs, you might have read it already but I'm really excited to read A star Touched Queen soon! (I'm from India and so excited that a book with Indian mythology and characters has made it so big! 🙂 ).


  9. ❤ I bought this book on release day and hope to make time to read it in December. I am positive I will love it.
    I'm glad to hear Sam is a Pakistani trans boy, as I have never read a book with that kind of character before. Such a gorgeous review and graphics, Aentee! ❤ You have convinced me to prioritize reading this book in December.


  10. This book was so, so beautiful and I’m glad you urged me to read it Aentee! It was written in such a beautiful manner and I loved just how accepting both Moon and Sam were of each other. I loved the diversity in the novel and how magical it felt. Lovely review Aentee!


  11. Wonderful review, Aentee! I have a feeling this book is perfect for the audio format, it’s easier to appreciate such beautiful writing while listening. I don’t often read magical realism, but this sounds so good.

    PS. I love your design so so much.


  12. Ahhh, you make this book sound so beautiful – and I’m sure it is! Unfortunately the audiobook is not available at my library, but I’ve just requested a copy from the library. Thank you so much for this gorgeous review, Aentee! I look forward to reading When The Moon Was Ours. ❤


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