Review by Ivy M.

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“One day, he swore, he would touch real magic with his own hands – whatever that meant. And so it was that he was curious and eager and primed for what would fall into his lap many years later.”

from An Arrow to the Moon by Emily X.R. Pan

Hunter and Luna are literally star-crossed lovers, lonely teens from feuding families who seem to have nothing in common. But as secrets held for years by their parents begin to unravel and a mysterious threat grows, both discover they share extraordinary abilities that are boosted by each other’s touch. As their home lives crumble and magic begins to seep from the ground, the young people only have eyes for each other. 

While I’ve become pickier about YA romances in my old age, Hunter and Luna’s story surprisingly won me over. The build is slow, the mingling of their powers is neat, and the “destiny” aspect actually feels romantic. A common YA trope is the two characters “only having each other,” but I really felt it in this novel. There were no other teen characters mentioned and their parents were hostile, so the kids felt truly alone. 

I was expecting either full fantasy or mostly contemporary from this novel, but I got an even blend that is a perfect example of magical realism, a genre I was delighted to read for the first time in a long time. The magical elements are also wonderfully unique, both due to their inspiration from Chinese mythology as well as the nonchalant ways the author incorporates them.

I did feel like the ending was a little rushed, as the massive, showstopper finale came so quickly I didn’t have time to process the majesty. In addition, there was a mystery strung throughout which was interesting, but it was hard to keep the two families straight in regards to their secrets, and by the end, I didn’t really feel like that building storyline had a clear resolution. These are both faults I am more than happy to forgive though, and they certainly don’t take away from the beauty of the writing and love story at the heart of the book.

Overall, An Arrow to the Moon is what I would call “elite” YA, a novel that feeds into what’s expected of the genre (teenage love story, PG-13), while also delivering poetic writing and a magical story that kept me hooked. I’m excited to check out Emily X.R. Pan’s previous novel, and can’t wait to see what she writes next.

Rating: 4/5

Genre: Magical Realism/Mythology/Romance

“When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore”