Moon Child

Moon Child by Gaby Triana

The Craft meets The Shining in this slow-burn Florida gothic horror.

As the only daughter in her Cuban-American home, 18-year-old Valentina Callejas has been raised to do what her Catholic grandmother and mother say to do. But Valentina feels a different pull–an affinity with nature, a desire to read tarot cards and study the occult. After ditching her church’s retreat and fighting with her family, Valentina flees her Miami home and ends up five hours away at Macy’s house, a sister she’s never met until now.

When a mysterious wolf leads Valentina to nearby abandoned Sunlake Springs Resort, she meets the “clairs,” young psychics drawn to the hotel’s haunted history. They’ve been waiting for her, they say, to open a magical entryway to the spirit world. But Valentina’s sensitive hands tell a different story–of anguished spirits, menacing cracks, and hooded ghosts of Florida’s hateful past. Even the local legend, the beautiful Lady of the Lake, all hint to the hotel’s sinister history. To protect her new friends from the horrors awaiting them on the other side, Valentina must use her growing powers and decide, once and for all, if she’s the witch she was always meant to be.

The IndieMuse Review

Filled with witchcraft and magic realism, and mixed with a grounded in a coming-of-age story about a young woman’s search for who she wants to be, Moon Child is the captivating new novel from prolific bestselling horror author Gaby Triana.

Valentina is an eighteen-year-old girl who is living a sheltered life with her Catholic mother and grandmother, attending church and youth group retreats, she is growing increasingly curious about life outside of the protective bubble of her family, friends and faith. When her growing interest in the occult causes a rift between her and her loved ones, Valentina takes the opportunity to spend some time away from the place she grew up and goes to visit her sister in Florida.

A whole new world opens up for her as she makes new friends who share her curiosity in the spiritual, and share with her plans to open a gateway to the spirit world in a long-abandoned hotel with a dark past. Keen to explore their burgeoning powers at first, the group soon find themselves out of their depth as the spirits of the dead attempt to communicate of an evil that has lived unnoticed on the site for many years and is using them to break free from the spirit world and wreak havoc on their own.

Although Moon Child is the story of a religious teenage Cuban-American woman, her journey is incredibly relatable and universal in broader terms. Valentina is having doubts about her religion, without losing her faith, and her actions throughout are driven by curiosity and a need to learn more about herself as she enters adulthood and begins to make decisions that will shape the rest of her life. The specifics may not apply but Valentina’s self-doubt and ultimate journey into self-acceptance will surely hit home for any reader, and a large part of Moon Child’s success is due to the obvious care and thought that has gone into crafting Valentina as a character.

In regards to the narrative, there is an awful lot of stuff to balance and Triana does it expertly, never letting the horror and the supernatural elements smother the family drama and personal stakes playing out in the background, but also never overstepping in this regard either, allowing Valentina’s personal issues to unrealistically detract from the big revelations when the ghosts and spirits begin to make themselves known. Horror fans won’t be disappointed, as the book is very creepy when it needs to be, but for a book about witchcraft, ghosts, haunted buildings and psychic mediums, Moon Child is surprisingly serious, and grounded in well-researched fact, albeit facts used to tell a larger-than-life story rooted in the gothic tradition.

Moon Child is a slow-burn character study that uses its more fantastical elements to enhance the story and increase the stakes, but never losing its focus on a young woman’s story of who she is and what she wants to be. This was gripping, relatable and beautifully written and one of those rare books that you just don’t want to end.

RICHARD MARTIN

Richard started reading horror books at a young age, starting with R L Stine’s ‘Goosebumps’ and ‘Point Horror’ series. He traumatised himself at the age of twelve when he read Stephen King’s ‘IT’, and never looked back. He is currently based in the UK, where he lives with his partner, and an inappropriate amount of books.

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