A #SpooktasticReads Book Review | “Anni Moon & the Elemental Artifact” : #MGFantasy by Melanie Abed

Posted Sunday, 24 October, 2021 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

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Acquired Book By: In 2015, my participation on the Anni Moon blog tour featuring the debut novel by Melanie Abed was through my hosting of JKS Communications blog tours. I hosted a Book Spotlight whilst I was able to put together a collection of quotes I had enjoyed from reading a chapter sampler the author provided for me for the tour itself. After the tour concluded, the author surprised me with a print copy of “Anni Moon and the Elemental Artifact”. I was smitten by the artwork and the premise behind the story itself – there is a special surprise within the opening pages of the novel for me – a hand-drawn bat whose one of the characters in the novel.

In the ensuing years, I’ve been wanting to read and finish my ruminative thoughts on behalf of this novel – in [2018[, during #WyrdAndWonder it was on my TBR List for the event. In [2019], I re-attempted to read this novel during #WyrdAndWonder Year 2 only to realise my migraines were going to make that quite difficult to accomplish. Whilst it might have taken me til [2021] but I am proud to say I’ve been able to read it through to its conclusion and can finally release my thoughts about it. I am hoping the participants during #MiddleGradeMarch who enjoy reading either Middle Grade and/or Young Adult Fantasy will enjoy learning more about this inventive and impressive debut. As I was able to talk about this novel during 2020’s #MiddleGradeMarch which is why it is mentioned on the review itself. I also included a note about it during #WitchAThon. This review is a compilation of the different times in which I read the story with the concluding bits of it finalised during #SpooktasticReads 2021.

I received a complimentary signed copy of “Anni Moon & the Elemental Artifact” direct from the author Melanie Abed. I was not obligated to post a review as I wanted to share my thoughts on behalf of this story for my own edification as much as a way to encourage those who follow my bookish life to know my impressions on behalf of this novel. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein. I have permission from the author to use the Press Materials on this review which I was given by JKS Communications for the blog tour originally in 2015.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

What originally drew my eye

into the world of ‘Anni  Moon’:

Finding stories within the realm of Middle Grade is quite a happy exploration for me, as I have been happily entrenched in my local library’s catalogue for six years come May 2015! A seriously addictive hobby of mine has been to seek out wicked quality stories crafted for young minds whose innocent imaginations are thirsty for believable worlds, compelling characters, and heart-warming tales which seek to teach as much as they are to inspire! I grew up with a happy heart for learning and for expanding my knowledge as I read each new story that whet my palette of interest to soak inside, however, the offerings during the 1980s and the 1990s were a bit on the paltry side compared to the 2000s!

There has been such an explosion of options within Children’s Literature, that in part, I was inspired to create a special page dedicated to reading and wandering through this ocean of choices here on Jorie Loves A Story! Originally inspired to pick up from whence I had left off in order to root out a story or two my own nephew and nieces would appreciate reading, I would in turn discover a new niche of stories that suited my curiosities and enriched my reading joy by the manner in which the authors were penning entire worlds out of everyday lessons, life affirming restitution’s, and a deeper love of giving back a measure of awe-inspiring narratives that could give a child (or an adult!) a widening breadth of literary delight!

Anni Moon was an instant curiosity simply based on the premise — a world in which magic and the artful realm of fantasy merging together to give an intrepid reader (of any age) an adventure they would not soon forget!

This reminds me of why I was so very excited about Portals, Passages, & Pathways and, who could forget my dedicated passion on behalf of the Leland Dragons? Surely not anyone who follows me in the twitterverse and who has seen my joyfully bookish tweets using the tag I created! (#LelandDragons)

-as originally shared on my Anni Moon Spotlight w/ Notes and Extract

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.A #SpooktasticReads Book Review | “Anni Moon & the Elemental Artifact” : #MGFantasy by Melanie AbedAnni Moon & the Elemental Artifact
Source: Direct from Author

Anni doesn’t know about Elementals, Funk, Zephyrs, excited talking Bat-Rat creatures, and, least of all, Dragons. All that changes when her best friend, Lexi, is kidnapped and forces beyond Anni’s control trap her on a hidden, floating island in the Elemental world.

In a race against time, Anni sets out to save her friend. Along the way she finds allies among the Elementals, but she is also presented with a choice, one that might help save Lexi. If Anni agrees to an ancient, open-ended contract, will her sacrifice cost her more than she’s bargained for? Or will it land her in the middle of an age-old war between the humans, the Elementals, and the dreaded Fectus?

Genres: Children's Literature, Middle Grade, Fantasy Fiction

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780990706243

Published by Oculus Print

on 17th September, 2014

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 276

Published by: Oculus Print

Formats Available: Trade Paperback and Ebook

A notation on the illustrations by Hisham Abed:

Not since the illustrative additions I found included with Uncovering Cobbogoth, have I been this wicked happy to see illustrative elements threaded through a work of Children’s Lit! Cobbogoth was one level up from Anni Moon, as it was a young adult release, but evenso! I cannot even fathom what would await me whilst snuggled inside the full length of the novel! Leaping lizards, I love illustrators who have the keen ability to draw out the characters we sometimes as readers have trouble sorting out how to imagine! What a beautiful gift!

[ Visit Ms. Abed’s site to find hidden pages of delight! ]

{ the characters of Anni Moon }

{ the Map of Moon Zephyr }

{ the Glossary Index of Terms found in the Stories }

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prefacing my review with my original thoughts:

On page 4, we are given a view of the Map which can become enlarged for easy reference on the author’s site which I linked for you to take a peek at, however, the beauty of the world Abed created is that the towne itself is circular in diameter around a lake! There’s even a teahouse next to a cafe yet the residences of where the townespeople live is adjacent to the downtown centerplex. A looming large castle is south of the downtown lake square, with mountains etching out of the southern & northern most points of the map! Topographically speaking, it is quite a diverse area to live and work, as the towne itself is situated in the (apparent) valley!

Full title listings for each chapter follow the map, before you reach Chapter 1 with the most auspiciously cute mouse-bat (his name is Brat) looking askance as if to say, “Why hallo, was I expecting you?” Love how this little creature’s personality was writ through the illustration!

In an ill attempt to delay the inevitable, Anni Moon (she says ‘egg’ in lieu of ‘drat!’) finds herself momentarily distracted by the mouse-bat who warmed my own heart on first sight — she ended up making a proper mess of the room in which she was awaiting to go to chores, when this curious little fellow bellowed out her name with staunch urgency! The manner in how we are given a few details of insight into Anni Moon’s life are reminiscent of Jane Eyre and Annie; from the second hand clothes to the impossible tasks necessary to complete.

She rooms with her best friend Lexi (who is one of the characters making this a Diverse Book to Read) but on this particular day, whilst started ghost white in shock from the bat-mouse outside (I did not find him to look like a rat!) she accidentally made a wreck of a start to the morning by colliding into a security guard whose distaste for castaway orphans ran quite thick! The room was soon in full disarray and the anger boiling out of the guard was at a tipping point, where who would come to Anni Moon’s rescue? The school’s counselor! I was not the only one shocked by that revelation! Anni Moon herself was betwixt and between in understanding what could possibly have caused this about-turn, as she was re-directed to the Headmistress’s rather than the kitchens for chore duties!

Properly confused upon arrival and finding an appointment wasn’t even scheduled, Anni Moon overhears her guardian speaking on behalf of where Lexi might have gone off too! Egbert Frode Moon (is a discernible man of a certain age) is not even a quarter of the man her previous guardian Mabel was to her and you can easily see why! His entire focus is not on the welfare of a child but on the running of an Academy! No, what I found quite delightful is how Brat (oh, I see ‘bat rat’, but he looks like a ‘mouse’!) has the tendency to rhyme as he speaks!

I read the whole exchange between Brat and Anni Moon — he’s her first Elemental to meet and I have a heap of curious thoughts running through my head! Such a bang-on start, I can only hope the pace and the ensuing adventure match the opening bits as this was such an enjoyable read!

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my review of anni moon & the elemental artifact:

I’ve been wanting to read this novel in full for several years now and being able to do this during #MiddleGradeMarch is a personal joy for me. The illustrations are incredible and the way in which Abed has created her world to reveal itself to you is wicked brilliant. I am hoping other readers during our event might feel smitten by what she has written and perhaps will take a chance of seeing if Anni Moon is a wicked good #mustread of their own!

Anni Moon begins with a lot of innocence and a lovely illustration – getting a chance to re-soak into her life and continue blogging my thoughts on behalf of her journey is a blissful respite. As I decided to re-read the sections I previously read and only would add more notes upon them if a new revelation occurred to me during that part of my ‘re-reading’ before moving into the sections of the novel I’ve not read until now for the very first time.

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Finnegan is the kind of security guard who makes your blood run cold – he likes to push his weight round and when he is the cause of Anni flinging a tray of food meant to be taken back to the kitchen (all over herself and part of the floor) – his attitude is even more repulsive than normal but it is mostly due to the fact he doesn’t like the fact Anni and her best friend Lexi are orphans. The school they are attending (Waterstone’s Academy for Girls) is being taken over by new owners and this is about to wreck quite a bit of havoc into their lives. The two girls’ are inseparable and have made this tower their comfortable niche of space, room and environs. On this particular morning, however, Lexi has gone amiss whilst Anni is trying to deal with the fact she has seen an impossible creature outside their tower’s window.

To complicate things further, Vivian Sugar (Miss Sugar, the counselor) has extracted her away from the disagreeable Finnegan but by the time she makes her way to the Headmistresses office, she’s turnt out by the secretary in an equally disagreeable mood carting in the tea. Not to stay down-trodden for long, Anni decides to seek out Lexi where she nearly bumps back into Finnegan and her new guardian (see Egbert Frode Moon). Where it truly gets interesting is when Anni can finally take an audience with Brat – hearing the message he was so dearly proud to recite and lose a few nerves over her incompetence at understanding its meaning! Brat is a dear little fellow – he loses his confidence very easily – as soon as Anni starts to question him about his purpose, his role as a messenger and what his particular kind of species (an ‘elemental’) is – you see him become properly flustered to the brink of not being able to know what to do! He has cute little expressions he starts to sputter out as well – giving you the distinct notion he hasn’t soon met a girl quite like Anni Moon! Further compounding to her present situation was knowing Brat knew Lexi!

Lexi, for her part, was trying to forestall her own fears as she was locked inside a cabinet in the Headmistress’s office – which made you wonder, did Miss Sugar know that all along? We find out what Brat told her when he had delivered her message two days before Anni’s – but more compelling is learning a bit more of the back-story about the girls’. They were both with guardians now removed from their lives – Teddy and Mabel both loved the girls’ as their own and the school itself had had a lovely atmosphere about it before they both went missing. For the girls’ it was a loss without end yet it also propelled a bit of a mystery to be solved as well. There were unforeseen circumstances evolving round Waterstone’s and it was growing into something quite complicated from what Lexi was overhearing. Lexi has a lot on her shoulders – her guardian Teddy entrusted her with an incredible amount of secrecy and it was the kind of secrecy you simply could not take lightly.

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Anni Moon has been a story which has a few issues with pacing – from my first readings of this novel to my current re-attachment inside it. At the heart of the story is a young girl, not quite thirteen who has felt unanchoured  in her life. She is without a proper home and a sense of family which affects all aspects of her life – not to mention that her guardian is not very forthcoming with her about anything she asks of him which leads her to question everything until her head spins. Her one true friend is Lexi but I had a feeling from the start, Lexi had more secrets than her guardian!

The action sequences are sometimes muddled a bit from being a bit more condensed as sometimes I found the writing pacing was off in places. There is a good mixture of thoughtful intrigue and Middle Grade Fantasy intersecting with the story of Anni Moon. She herself has less knowledge about her role in this world than others in magical stories as she is coming into it all a bit left-footed as you might say. She has been withheld from knowing her roots and what propelled her to be on this path – that is why when she was at school and facing all the circumstances there with Lexi, part of her world felt more complete than when they were apart. When the two girls’ were separated that is where the complications arose as she was trying to navigate a world which was betwixt our world and the world of the Elementals (of whom are not fully disclosed in the first half of the novel – you only have hints towards what the Elementals are and why they are insisting on protecting Anni Moon).

Brat is a kind companion but he doesn’t communicate enough to give you details which would explain certain aspects of this world. He just insists on Anni following his guidelines and directions but even then, your not entirely sure why she is being told to do this or that in the context of how the story is playing out. The one interesting bit is that there are magical potions in the story but those aren’t explained either –  except for the illusion that they have something to do with keeping certain people healthy. I was curious if it they were to allow an Elemental person entrance into our living reality and thereby, link them directly to our world vs their own. You find yourself with questions more than answers just as Anni Moon finds herself.

The paintings are the portals of transportation in this world – which I found most wicked but again, they weren’t entirely explained. They were whispered about and observed in use but not with the fuller details I had hoped would be inclusive of those scenes. You find yourself following along with Anni Moon hoping the story and this world will envelope you a bit more – to where those fleeting glimpses of the fantastical will enlarge and lengthen to give you that otherworldly experience. Even the scene with the trunk in Mabel’s room I felt held promise but Abed quickly switched the scene to Anni’s guardian and from there we jumped sequences to where we were fastly moving forward plot-wise but we were left with more unanswered questions and a a disjointed presentation of more magic and elemental suspense.

Even by the time Anni arrived on the Zephyr which is an elevated station of sorts for the Elementals themselves, we find ourselves a bit out of depth with how the Elementals Anni is meeting there are interlocked into the overall story which is still evolving. One interesting bit though we learnt more about the ‘funk’ and what it pertains to in regards to being used as both a metaphor for negative energy and emotional baggage from the human world and how that can become an entity of its own which direct impacts the Elementals. The Elementals themselves are co-linked to the natural elements of our own world – thereby, giving credence to why some are better with certain elements over others and how their own gifts are generated therein.

On the Zephyr – which felt more like a hovering ship than a station to me, we find Anni’s supportive network expanding with other children her age or older joining her on her adventure. The biggest issue she’s facing is getting to safe ground and to outwit the Elemental police so to speak and to uncover the truth behind what is truly happening to her loved ones. Her and Lexi are at the heart of the suspenseful plot and yet, I felt it wasn’t entirely limited to them either as Abed continued to hint towards this circumstance that is continuously evolving forward is more inclusive of the whole world rather than just limited to Anni and Lexi. I felt they were the key though to solving the overall problem but what that solution would be and how it would reveal itself remained elusively out of reach of the reader.

When the story shifted again, I realised I couldn’t take the journey with the story. This time we were at Moon Manor and although that has a relevancy to Anni Moon herself, I found the journey to Moon Manor a bit too jumbled for me to understand properly. I realise this is a Middle Grade Fantasy and generally speaking those are a lighter variant of Fantasy but this particular one confused me more than it enchanted me. I kept struggling to remain connected to the storyline and of course, there were a lot of switching of scenes to where I felt we needed more time with the prior scene(s) to better understand the current ones we were shifting inside. Overall, it has positive points for Middle Grade readers seeking a Fantasy story but for me personally, I just couldn’t wrap my mind around the way in which it was paced and sequenced. Sadly this became another DNF during #SpooktasticReads 2021.

Fly in the Ointment:

* Pacing

* Sequencing

* Character/Magic development issues

* Quick changing scenes

These were the main issues I was having reading the story this time round during #SpooktasticReads because of how I kept feeling I was being led outside of the sequencing of the storyline. Initially when I first read this novel, I found myself attached inside the world itself and in the journey of Anni Moon and her best friend Lexi but as I’ve progressed through the novel this month, I’ve found myself wishing I could re-feel the same as I had originally about how connective the world originally felt to me vs how it feels now as a bit disjointed.

on the fantastical writing styling of melanie abed:

Abed draws you into reading her character, Anni Moon with a penchant for detailing the little bits of Anni Moon’s life at the Academy by giving out certain clues that would give the reader’s impression this is not a place you’d willingly want to live but rather were lucky you had a place in residence there instead of the alternative! She knits together little lessons for educational joy for children, such as how she created the name ‘Brat’ (presuming here) as a compound word sliced short for ‘bat rat’ as he is a sub-species of the two! She even found a way to make conversational speech a bit cheeky in places, such as when Brat and Anni Moon first get the chance to converse outside the Academy by the clock tower!

The rest of the story keeps this quick-step pace between action, clever dialogue, expansively descriptive narrative and an adventure lurking around the shadows where Anni Moon has to unravell a mystery!

Miss Marple rocked my childhood with bang-on brilliant puzzles of suspense and a cunning clarity of observational sleuthing which goes to show you, I was meant to be a Cosy Mystery & a Cosy Historical Mystery girl! I love a well plotted out mystery, but moreso than even that, I love the style in which Christie crafted her stories — she gave the reader such a vivid imaginative piece of literature, you simply can return to her stories as if no time has passed since your first reading without yearning to tick off a chart of how many times you’ve re-read them!

I, too grew up on Star Wars, and to this day I cannot fathom why it is necessary in today’s era of motion pictures I have to constantly find myself saying, “No! No, seriously (with fingers making quotes in the air) “George Lucas’s Star Wars!” as apparently I’m one of the lone traditionists for both this film series and Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek! Now, I wonder if Ms. Abed has embraced The Film Director I Shall Not Name vision of the two? I shudder everytime I dare think of what he changed them into for this new generation,… especially considering it was Lucas who tipped my hat towards unearthing a passion for motion pictures (with a high concentration of physical special effects over CGI) and a pursuit of stagecraft that to this day has not yet left me!

A note on the artwork and illustrations:

My favourite part of the story are the illustrations and the artwork – they truly capture and bring to life all the fantastical elements of the story and the world Abed has created. Their realistically presented at the Chapter headings and there are more illustrative surprises sprinkled into the novel as well on different pages. I wish I could draw and capture that kind of realism in my own artwork – they feel 3-Dimenisional as well and I love the effect of the art as you’re reading the story.

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This book review is courtesy of: Melanie Abed

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whilst being read during my participation of:

#SpooktasticReads banner created by Imyril (@Imyril) ARTWORK by Olga Yastremska from 123RF.com.
#SpooktasticReads banner created by Imyril (@Imyril) ARTWORK by Olga Yastremska from 123RF.com.

Welcome to our 4th Year of #SpooktasticReads | READ JORIE’S YEAR 4 INTRO

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{SOURCES: Cover art of  “Anni Moon & the Elemental Artifact”, author photograph for Melanie Abed, author biography, book synopsis, and blog tour banner  were all provided by JKS Communications: A Literary Publicity Firm and are re-used with permission of the author Melanie Abed. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: #SpooktasticReads Book Review banner and the comment box banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2021.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #SpooktasticReads 2021

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Sunday, 24 October, 2021 by jorielov in Blog Tour Host, Childhood Friendship, Children's Literature, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Fantasy Fiction, JKS Communications: Literary Publicity Firm, Juvenile Fiction, Middle Grade Novel, Orphans & Guardians, Supernatural Fiction

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