Author: K.A. Jordan
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Flawed but realistic characters make Swallow The Moon an enjoyable paranormal romance.
When Wiccan June attempts a ritual to summon her one true love, she never expected an unemployed veteran with a possessed bike to show up instead. With two ghosts and other dark forces at work, June may have to worry less about love and more about survival.
There's something a bit charming and naive about a person using magic in an attempt to summon their true love. There's also something almost obviously pragmatic about it. It is that combination of traits in the female main character, June, that makes her a likable heroine. June possesses a flawed yet realistic humanity about her that grants her character depth. Similarly, the main male lead, Eric, an emotionally scarred vet also comes across well as believable character. Indeed, his psychological struggles form the basis of an interesting character arc that isn't defined by grandiose supernatural show downs despite the threat to his very soul being posed by a possessed bike.
Despite the ever-present threat of the supernatural posed in this story, the strength in the novel actually lies in the somewhat more mundane interface between two slightly damaged human beings interested in finding emotional connection and stability. This, I think, provided for nice reader engagement in their interactions that isn't solely reliant on supernatural shenanigans.
That being said, the supernatural elements were intriguing. I have nothing against a good vampire, werewolf, or faerie story, nor anything against the often complex mythology that accompanies such stories, but the more straight-forward and personal supernatural challenge presented in this book made for a nice change of pace. The motivations of the entities the main characters deal with (at least some anyway) aren't as straight-forward as they first appear, adding to the tension.
The nature of how the material was handled worked well with the existing character traits and personality issues of the leads to enhance the drama and eliminate easy solutions. Admittedly, the fundamental nature of the conflict is a bit lower stakes than often seen in the genre, so those seeking grand supernatural clashes might be disappointed.
One aspect of the supernatural elements was overemphasized slightly resulting in me expecting certain plot confrontations that didn't end up materializing. These were not loose ends, though, but I was surprised at the proportion of time spent on certain elements when compared to their final contribution to the overall plot.
Setting is also well-utilized in Swallow The Moon both in the author's clear painting of a dying part of the American Midwest and also in taking advantage of the economic struggle afflicting the region to provide some exploration of certain socioeconomic themes and also highlight the desperation of the leads.