When my uncle passed away a few years ago, he left behind a wealth of novels to read. In the days that followed his funeral, his friends and family were welcomed into his home and encouraged to seize a momento. My uncle and I have always shared a love of the macabre, so I was not surprised to find an impressive collection of horror novels on his jumbled shelves.
One of the titles I picked up through the fog of grief that day was Moon. I should mention, despite sharing similar tastes, my uncle and I often disagreed on the quality of individual works of fiction. He loathed one of my favourite movies The Descent with a passion that was only matched by my loathing of his favourite movie, The Covenant. If my uncle was alive today, I’m sure we would have had a lively debate about Moon over a glass of red. I have many thoughts on this loathsome book.
Moon tells the story of Johnathon Childes, an appropriately named man-child with psychic abilities who would rather abandon his family and run away to an island than deal with the reality of his talent. Does that sound a bit harsh? Because honestly, I think it’s a generous assessment of his character.
In his past, Childes reluctantly helped the police on the mainland find a child murderer. He led the police to the mutilated remains and the police let slip to the media that they were being assisted by a psychic. The book never explains how, exactly, the media ruined this man’s life but apparently it was so bad that he had to abandon his wife and daughter and go live on an island (ugh).
On this island, he takes up with a woman 11 years his junior and coasts through life teaching computer science part-time at a prep school. Childes is basically living out every man’s dream until his psychic abilities resurface and he’s thoroughly inconvenienced by having to help stop a murderer again. The novel’s plot, focused on John’s extra-sensory link with a new murderer, is not terribly engaging. He sees visions of gruesome murders and eventually tries (and mostly fails) to prevent further death.
I would have really liked to just read a horror novel without the constant distraction of the abysmal treatment of women and girls throughout. However, the book chooses to spend an inordinate amount of time letting us in on the inner workings of male characters’ minds. Both Childes and the detective he works with leer at young women and high school aged girls… to the point it made me quite uncomfortable. On the few occasions the story is presented through the eyes of a female, there is always a lingering focus on the female’s form which does not advance the story at all. This is even the case in pre-pubescent girls.
Throughout the book, Childes refers to the murderer as ‘it’, so I was not even remotely surprised when the murderer is revealed in the final pages to be an overweight and unattractive woman. She’s not tanned and lithe, so of course she’s evil and essentially genderless, right? This is coupled with the female body count by the end of the book which is… significant. A murdered and defiled prostitute, a 9 year old girl, the school’s headmistress, and at least a dozen female students and teachers who are horrifically roasted in a boarding school fire.
But forget the dead women and children: it’s really Childes who is the victim here, right? Diddums.
The part of the novel that I found most problematic occurred during Childes’ brief foray back to the mainland, when his ex-wife cannot help but sleep with him (because this nondescript dude is just so irresistible, I guess?). When returning to the island and driving through town, his stunning young girlfriend asks him if he cheated and Childes immediately crashes the car (citing his psychic abilities for causing the crash – not sure why he couldn’t just pull over…?). His girlfriend is flung through the car’s windshield and suffers significant injury. When she wakes in hospital, she quickly forgives Childes despite the fact he NEVER EVEN APOLOGISES for the infidelity or the car crash. She’s lacerated and hospitalised but don’t worry – she’s still considered ‘hot’ by Childes… and the detective… and the male doctor (who does think it’s such a shame that her perfect skin will be forever marred by scars). Ick.
In short, I found the depiction men in this novel to be just plain gross. At a fundamental level, I think this book is sexist garbage.
I’m tempted to keep going but writing about Moon just makes me frothy with rage… after all, where’s the fun in hating on something when I cannot even laugh and spar about it with my uncle?
1 moonstone out of 5. Don’t bother.