The Blue Moon Narthex by N.J. Donner Review

The Blue Moon Narthex is the debut novel for N.J. Donner and the first installment of the KSL series.  It follows a group of friends, Cole, Sophie, and Britten, on an accidental adventure of epic proportions.  The novel opens with the death of Cole’s father from a tragic accident.  Soon after, he is gifted a blue narthex, to which he initially believes is just a beautiful stone that his father always carried with him.  Little did Cole know, the beautiful, innocuous stone is one of great power.  Soon the trio is immersed in the hidden world of sliders: people who are able to teleport from one location to another with the help of a narthex.  The group is whisked off to the secret underground lair for sliders and those that help them.  There they are enrolled in a school to train them for their new roles within the organization.  The novel concludes with a thrilling climax of good vs evil and wraps up neatly, but leaving enough anticipation for a reader to look forward to the next in the series.


I tried to like this novel.  The premise sounded great and pretty unique in the world of YA.  However, there was nothing unique about this novel beyond the premise.  In fact, this novel was incredibly similar to another beloved novel for youth: Harry Potter.  So much so, I felt that I was reading Harry Potter but with a different location and character names.  While the plot content was different, the structure was basically the same, down to the characterization.  An orphaned boy who is famous for his name inherits a powerful legacy he never wanted.  A loveable side- kick that is not the brightest but is unabashedly loyal.  A brainy, cautious girl who has a deep love for the library and books and is tasked with keeping the two males of the group out of trouble.  Sounding familiar?  Let us not forget the angry rival who sneers and frequently calls the MC by his last name, the loving older man who the children try to use to get information, and the eccentric but wise headmaster.  It reached a point where I was able to list nearly every character in the Blue Moon Narthex with their Harry Potter counterparts.  There was even a point in the novel nearly identical to a part in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.  Cole decided to look pensively into a trophy case, only to discover a photograph of his father with a plaque below it listing the dates in which he won the slider games. Even the ending scene, where the kid’s decide to take on the antagonist of the novel on their own, even though he is supposed to be incredibly powerful and just escaping due to dumb luck. It was nearly impossible for me to enjoy the novel for what it was without constantly comparing it to Harry Potter.   Maybe if I had not read the series (and adored it) before I read this, I would have enjoyed it more.  Unfortunately, I struggled to get into it.  The characters were not relatable and did not act their ages.  Instead of coming across as YA, it read more like middle school fiction.  Which is fine, but I do wish it were marketed that way.  Those looking for a true YA novel will not find it in the book.  The middle school age group would enjoy it infinitely better, would be able to relate to the characters, and maybe even be able to by-pass the constant Harry Potter comparison.  For me, I found the novel okay but will not be continuing with the series.

*I received a copy of this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review