At 151 pages, Killing with the Edge of the Moon is an evening’s read, but what an enchanted evening it is!
I think A.A. Attanasio intended Killing with the Edge of the Moon as a young adult novel, though I’m not absolutely certain of that. If you’re a parent, though, there’s nothing in here that’s inappropriate for your teen. Despite the cover copy’s mention of the “erotic Otherworld,” all sexual content is of the briefly-implied sort. Attanasio’s Otherworld is seductive, but he makes it so without filling the tale with smut.
The plot draws upon several old myths: Orpheus and Eurydice, Tam Lin, the Wooing of Etain, and a dash of the Mabinogion. I’m always up for a good “rescuing a loved one from the Otherworld” story. Killing with the Edge of the Moon has a deeply archetypal feel due to its basis in the myths and, at the same time, the story is made fresh and individual by the delightful protagonists. Chet is my favorite; I love his leap of faith into a world he doesn’t quite believe in, his sense of duty, and little details like the bad poetry he writes for Flannery and his musings about the proper swearwords to use when lost in Elfland. Flannery is also a great character — a defiant girl who cares more for animals than people. And then there’s Nedra, Flannery’s Wiccan grandmother, who is more than she seems.
Attanasio is a strongly visual writer. He bills Killing with the Edge of the Moon as “A Graphic Novel (without illustrations).” He’s equally at home describing an idyllic meadow, a hellish volcanic cavern, and a mundane hospital room. Attanasio uses simpler prose for scenes that take place in our world and lush prose for Otherworldly scenes, and it works well. Like the ritual gown that Nedra makes for Flannery, the prose is studded with bits of shining beauty.
Killing with the Edge of the Moon feels more like a fairy tale than a traditional novel, and will be enjoyed by anyone who likes stories of teens confronting the Otherworld.
I enjoyed this story, too. It’s a lovely and humorous modern fairy tale.
I’d like to warn readers about the audio version narrated by. It must be approved by Attanasio since he published it, but it’s pretty awful. Both of the narrators use unpleasant voices, awful sound effects, and mispronounce normal words like chasm, cavalcade, askance, lithely, feral and slavering. The narration got in the way of the story. I suggest reading this in print instead.