Lunav by Jenn Polish is not your typical whimsical faerie tale fantasy. Yes, it has faeries, centaurs, and the most delightful and beauteous dragons I have come across in a long while. And yes, it has talking rabbits, mystical dreaming, magic and sentient trees. But it also has humans and through them there is oppression, tyranny and bloodshed.
Dreaming has been linked to the spread of a terrible blood plague affecting all creatures of the realm. To prevent further cases, dreaming is outlawed and punishable by a slow death in the Pits. All inhabitants of the realm are sliced at birth, a procedure that severs the part of the brain that enables dreaming. But for faeries and dragons, this procedure is genocide. In the Grove, dragons grow from the trees in beautiful, colourful bulbs. Faeries are linked to these incredible beasts through their dreams and without this connection, the dragons will never hatch. For them, slicing doesn’t just mean the end of dreaming, it means extinction.
Sadie is a young half human, half faerie who, because of her mixed heritage, isn’t welcome amongst either group. Her days are spent murdering trees in forced labour camps mandated by the humans. Her nights however, are spent spying on the monarchy and sabotaging their munitions and war plans whenever she can. One such night while rescuing an injured stranger, she meets a beautiful human woman; a woman who will change her life forever.
Evelyn’s extraordinary beauty is matched only by her acute power. She is the ruthless new Controller, sent to the Grove to keep the local Faye population in line. Falling in love was never on the agenda, especially with one of the faeries she was there to contain.
They have every reason to hate one another, but the attraction between them is impossible to resist. Torn between love and duty to their people, they must decide where their allegiances lie and if they can trust each other with their powerful and dangerous secrets.
Pros And My Favourite Parts
Wow. Just when I think I’ve drained the well of fabulous fantasy books, I find a story that knocks me on my arse with its rich and unique world building, endearing characters, and layers of complexity and depth. The characters are simply unforgettable and grow exponentially throughout the book. And believe you me, Polish went all in with the enemies to lovers trope here. This book is the epitome of emotional rollercoasters. It is steeped in oppressive darkness but with such beautiful moments, places, and things permeating the shadows. My heart was torn from my chest on so many occasions, and for such different reasons, I don’t know if I will ever recover.
The darkness: This is not a light read. The Faye are forced by humans to perform labour that contradicts their every belief, forced to undergo surgery as children to prevent dreaming, their culture is systematically destroyed and they are beaten down in every conceivable way. The real world reflections are clear and gut wrenching.
The light: The bonds of family and friendship, humour, love, overcoming hatred, acceptance, endurance, and a glimmer of hope. Everything about the dragons is amazing; the way they are born, their fierce loyalty and their beautiful songs. There is much queerness and an interesting concept of gender explored. And the cover is simply gorgeous.
Cons And Heads Up
There are heavy elements to this book such as non-consensual surgery, the death of a child, a child born from the rape of a servant (not on page), and extreme oppression. If you are looking for a gleeful escape, or happily ever after, this book may not be for you. However, there are magical tendrils of true beauty woven throughout that illuminate the darkness, and there is hope for the future though the end is uncertain.
If you want to immerse yourself in a unique and beautiful fantasy world with endearing characters (and DRAGONS!), and you don’t mind your fantasy on the darker side, you should definitely read this book. There are so many heart wrenching moments and surprising twists I couldn’t stop reading. While the protagonists are approximately 16, the themes and depth of this book is such that an older audience will find it an engaging read. It does leave off on a cliffhanger so I hope there is a sequel in the works.
Excerpt from Lunav by Jenn Polish
The girl’s breaths are heavy and she’s still on the ground, bloodied hands bracing her stomach on her thick thighs. She wheezes out something in what might be an Izlanian dialect. I recognize thank and Iema’s name, but nothing else.
Not understanding the words, I try to read her body. I wonder if Izlanians communicate with their bodies like we do in the Grove. They hadn’t mentioned it in our learning pod. Or maybe they did, and I was too busy fooling around with Lerian to notice.
Now the girl tries to catch her breath; she must have sprinted to get here. She leans back, arching her back and tries to rub a stitch out of her full side, her expression tight with pain. She stays that way until her breathing regulates, her face ashy from the bite of the cold.
I don’t move to lift my shoulders off the ground, even though the snow’s already seeped through the back of my cloak and I’m starting to shiver. The girl looks at me then, without raising her head.
She stares at me for a moment and then takes a deep breath and switches to Highlander non. “You didn’t understand a word I said, did you?”
Leaning heavily on her thighs, the girl hoists herself up and brushes snow from her bloodstained cloak, gracefully and gingerly pulling her thick hood back over her halo of hair. She looks down at me. “I don’t know you. I doubt Iema does either. But you helped her.”
It’s a statement but an uncertain one. Almost like a question. I drag myself off the ground unsteadily but don’t go any closer to her. A blanket of bloodied snow lies between us.
“I was nearby, and she was hurt.” She won’t let me look away. She nods quietly before stepping gingerly around the steaming red snow toward me.
“I’m Evelyn.” She’s looking into my eyes, but her functioning hand is reaching tentatively toward my bloodied jaw. She arches an eyebrow gently and I nod. Immediately, I feel the Energies shift in front of me, within me, and healing warmth floods my jaw. Her gaze fixes on the spot where Reve clubbed me, leaving me free to take in the way her brown eyes have a small ring of amber in them, her wide nose, and full lips, painted purple.
My mouth runs dry as she exhales shakily into the space between us, the white cloud of her breath mingling with mine and with the golden tendrils of healing Energies she’s magicking. I clear my throat.
“Evelyn,” I repeat. “I’m uh…” I’m having trouble thinking straight, and for a moment I can’t even remember the name I use when I’m spying. And Sadie is a Highlander non name, anyway, like my wider-set shoulders and thinner wings — yet another thing to set me apart from Forest faeries.
Her stare drags up to mine at my hesitation, and all at once I feel a burning, like an unexplained but unchecked need, to give her my real name. “Sadie,” I splutter.
Get It Online
When you use the links in this review and buy within 24 hours of clicking then we get a small commission that helps us run the site and it costs you nothing extra
Bits and Bobs
ISBN number: 9781948608336
Publisher: Ninestar Press
If you enjoyed Lunav by Jenn Polish then you should also look at
Note: I own a copy of Lunav by Jenn Polish No money was exchanged for this review. When you use our links to buy we get a small commission which supports the running of this site