Review: The Long Moonlight by Razörfist
The Long Moonlight is a short fantasy noir story featuring a master thief, a cunning detective, and deadly gang lords. This first installment of the Nightvale series includes original illustrations, appropriately in black and white.
Here at the Periapsis Press blog, we only post reviews of works we recommend, so you already know I enjoyed The Long Moonlight. I encourage you to check it out!
This review contains minor spoilers.
The Long Moonlight Publisher Description:
A sparkling gem made rough stone, the seat of political power in the Kingdom of Vale. Revolt foments among the patrician class and open gang war looms on the horizon.
As the Argentine Tower plots revolution, a lone thief with a past as dark as Menuvia itself picks the wrong lock and opens the wrong door. Shadows still cast in the dark of night, underneath THE LONG MOONLIGHT.
Dark Urban Setting
The Long Moonlight is dominated by the noir style. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the story takes place in a dark, sprawling city. There is a map of Menuvia in the beginning of the book, but the maze-like quality of the city remains, underscoring the inherent moral confusion and corruption beneath the surface.
Of course, the story is also specifically fantasy, taking place in a larger world of peoples, places, and magics. Razorfist dealt with these with a unique tactic I’ve not seen before. Rather than informing the reader through “as you know” dialogue or chunky narrative paragraphs, Razörfist provided footnotes. These allow the reader to skip the less relevant worldbuilding details or indulge their curiosity as they like.
This book is advertised as “pulp noir,” and in the style of the recent indie pulp movement, the story is short with a strong emphasis on action. It did have a bit more nuance than most new pulp works I’ve read, with lies, intrigue, and betrayal playing major roles.
There are two major plot arcs. First is a series of heists leading to the master thief’s crowning achievement; the second is a revenge quest and gang war. Both are compelling in their own way.
The characters are built on types in this story. Xerdes, the master thief; Saryss, the love interest; Coggins, the shrewd yet honorable detective; and the gang lords, one with style and the other with muscles (both with money and thugs).
In the style of noir, Xerdes is often little more than a shadow who moves across the stage, detached from the reader completely. His face is fully or partially obscured by darkness with a vivid picture of chiaroscuro. He is a morally questionable character, typical of a noir hero, but with a code of his own and an inclination to help others.
The romantic element of the story can hardly be called a subplot, and readers less interested in the drama of love will appreciate the summation, “their relationship had developed into something more.”
Noir and Redemption
Coggins was by far my favorite character. Of course, some of that is my personal preference: someone with honor, intelligence, and ambition is more interesting to me than the criminal element. However, his role in the story causes a juxtaposition of the bitter and pessimistic noir atmosphere with the force of lawful good.
It is common in noir for virtue to be rewarded and vice punished, but with a pessimistic outlook overall, and that is no different here. The Long Moonlight ends with the defeat of the gang lords at Xerdes’s hands. The master thief concludes the story with a nihilistic dismissal of the idea of justice and the certainty that the corruption the gangs represented will soon reemerge.
But it is Coggins, whose mind is cold and calculating and whose integrity is unyielding, who provides an element of hope for both justice and perhaps Menuvia’s redemption. Xerdes’s limits have been reached—he has dealt with the fruit of the city’s degeneracy, but cannot fathom how to attack its roots. But the reader feels confident that Coggins has the end of the string and the determination to find where it leads. Furthermore, their brief alliance hints at greater feats that might be possible if the two of them join forces again.
Check Out The Long Moonlight!
The Long Moonlight is a short, engaging read that celebrates the noir style with a dark fantasy setting. It wastes no time on worldbuilding or character arcs, but invests in the action pulp readers crave. I look forward to reading the next book in the Nightvale series.
Did you enjoy The Long Moonlight?
Hit the “Recommend this Book” button at the top of the page or Comment below with your own review.
We (and other readers) want to hear your thoughts!