Seasons of the Moon by S.M. Reine

S.M. Reine sets all of her books in what she calls the Descentverse. We may end up in Heaven, Hell, a neutral Haven, a pocket of nothingness, or on Earth — it’s expansive. But you need not fear; jump into any series and enjoy. I read the first series (The Descent) and loved it. Definitely for adults, the emotional tide pulled me under, and I became devoted to Reine’s work. The second series in the Descentverse is Seasons of the Moon.

Seasons of the Moon has four books, each written with a young adult audience in mind (check out Reine’s content warnings and age suggestions). The protagonist is Riley Gresham, a fifteen-year-old girl who is sent to summer camp in the mountains for three months while her parents work out a messy divorce. At camp, she is immediately ostracized, causing her to keep to herself. It’s all strange to Riley; she’s a city kid who attends a private school, is strictly vegetarian, and has an inhaler. One night, after an incident, Riley leaves her cabin and runs into the woods, only to forget what happened. But there are four silver scars running down her chest. A werewolf attack, we learn.

Enter Seth, a teen from the boys’ camp on the other side of the lake. He procures some books from his camp about a legend of werewolves being created by the gods of the mountain and plans to help Riley not permanently become a werewolf. While they work together, Seth and Riley develop romantic feelings for each other, though this is not a sappy book. And Seth isn’t upfront about who he really is. There are six specific moons during which Riley can either become a werewolf forever, or resist and stay human — though it’s incredibly hard.

S.M. Reine takes readers from the first book in which Riley is a scared, lonely teen to the last book, in which she gathers other werewolves as they escape a special forces team armed with silver bullets and swat gear. The characters are unique and interesting, never sounding unlike teens, but never predictable. Even though Riley is a werewolf sinking her jaws into deer (and sometimes people), she still wants Seth to ask her to the formal dance.

The tension in Seasons of the Moon comes in two places: Seth’s family is a band of werewolf hunters. It’s what they’ve always done, and Seth’s brother, Abel, is hunting Riley regardless of his brother’s feelings. Secondly, because Riley does kill people if Seth can’t contain her during her changes, she believes it’s best if she kills herself, leading her to carry around a gun with a single silver bullet. I was surprised by what happened when other characters discovered her hidden gun.

These two areas of tension were pulled in just the right way, making me so involved in this series. As the story progresses from Riley leaving camp to moving to a ranch with her Aunt Gwyn because things are not good at home, to Seth’s family tracking Riley across the country so they can exterminate her, the characters develop significantly. Riley’s relationship with Seth, Abel, and herself changes. Not surprising, given the way life demands she make hard choices every time the circumstances change. Once again, Reine had me reading way past bedtime.

And it’s not just the characters that kept me captivated. The descriptions of Riley’s werewolf transformations are amazing. This isn’t some holy-crap-look-at-my-furry-hands Teen Wolf transformation. Riley’s werewolf snout bursts out of her face, ripping her skin and sending blood spraying. Her teeth fall out, her hair falls off her head, her nails get loose and come off. The change is always, always painful for Riley. I never tired of reading descriptions of her transformation, and was incredibly freaked out the time she got caught in a change, somewhere between human and creature.

Amazingly (yet, at this point, unsurprisingly), Reine drew me in and made me think about the Seasons of the Moon series even when I wasn’t reading. Adult me loved the books, and I know eighth grade me would have eaten them up, too. The author beautifully appeals to readers of a wide age range. Another excellent addition to the Descentverse.

23 comments

  1. I don’t know whether it’s a guy thing or a generational thing, but I was never into vampires werewolves and such. I suspect it’s at least partly generational – the sixties were all science and no god (Ok, hippies had that Indian religion thing going, but they smoked too much to influence anyone else).

    Like

    • One interesting thing about horror creatures is the way they frequently represent something else. In this series, Rylie’s great-aunt, who is taking care of her, has HIV. There are subtle comparisons to having a blood-born curse like becoming a werewolf, and also questions about which is worse, dying or being a werewolf.

      One book you may enjoy is Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice. The fact that they’re vampires so such a tiny part of the novel. Rather, it’s about morals, the value of life, power and greed, and religion. It’s intriguing, and Rice really changed the game. That being said, as famous as Stephanie Myers’s vampires are, they really hurt the genre and the serious nature other writers brought to it.

      Like

  2. Although this doesn’t sound like my thing at all, I really enjoyed reading your review! Your enthusiasm for the series comes across in spades. And it’s thoughtful for the author to provide warnings and suggested age ranges to help readers decide what would work for them.

    Like

    • I think it’s too scary for you, dear Lou! Thank you for the compliment — Reine is one of those authors about whom I could go all gushy, but I never want to say, “It’s so good, just read it. Take my word for it.” I’m also glad she has those content warnings because they not only help with age, but interest. If this series was totally smooshy romance, I wouldn’t have enjoyed it. There’s dating, but it’s not the same as love and hearts and soulmates.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This was a great review because, as others have mentioned, your enthusiasm shines through. I don’t think it’s for me, but who knows? Tastes change over time, as my new found love of romance this year proves.

    Like

  4. Sounds like this is a hidden gem! Not for me, but I can still see the appeal. My only problem is those covers-that kind of style puts me off what’s inside-better writing needs a better cover!

    Like

  5. I’ve been waiting for this review so a while so I can learn how to write a successful series review. Girl. You crushed it. This is awesome. I am typically not someone who would be interested in reading a series like this, but you almost convinced me. Why almost? I don’t know if I could handle gruesome werewolf transformations… Just sayin’.

    And of COURSE Seth’s brother is named Abel. Goodness.

    Did this series intersect with The Descent at all? I wonder if you ran into familiar characters, places, events, etc… That’s my favorite part of series all set in the same universe. There are easter eggs everywhere if you know what you’re looking for!

    Like

    • Thanks for your vote of confidence! With this series, I tried to pull out elements that I could talk about without spoiling anything. It’s more big picture and less “what happened.” I think some of the werewolf transformations would bother you, but I also think you’d love this book, so I’m not sure. Let me know if you want me to email you a sample. It’s definitely easier reading, but you get emotionally invested.

      This series sticks its toe into the Descentverse. There are kopides (the punchy/fighty half of the pairs) and aspides (the witch half of pairs). There’s also The Union, which is an organized unit of kopides and aspides that I think we’re supposed to hate (mostly because they’re so organized and take things over without respect to local, ununionized kopides and aspides). So, just a TOE in. But I was excited when I learned that a character from this series appeared in one of the Mr. Poe cozy mystery cat books. Those are a hoot, and I think you’d love those.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Maybe I’ll start with the Cozy Mystery books? Which books are those? I have a feeling I’ll be reading a lot of urban fantasy and romance during the next 3 months of my life as they are light, fluffy, and don’t require a ton of mental power. My reading will be done at weird times for the next few months, I think.

        While the werewolf transformations might bother me, at least I’ll know what to expect when the transformations start to happen. This makes it a lot easier to skim over things that might not suit my constitution. It’s surprise graphic violence that causes the biggest problems for me. Did you ever read The Girl with All the Gifts? (I think you’d really enjoy it) — the unexpected gruesome moments were what made me DNF the book. Oops.

        Like

  6. Great review(s)! I ended up purchasing the ebook version of the Descent series after your last Reine review (though I haven’t gotten around to reading yet) so I’m glad to see you’re still loving the author and the Descentverse. This series sounds much less my cup of tea- I wasn’t really into werewolves even as a teen and seem to have taken a big step back from YA in the last couple of years, but it sounds like Reine does a great job of keeping the story unique and fun.

    Like

    • Season of the Moon has great age cross-over appeal, but you can skip this series and keep reading any of the Descentverse books. The first one I ever read comes very late in the series, and it made sense to me. And, of course, I loved it! Thus, I started from the beginning.

      Liked by 1 person

Insert 2 Cents Here:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s