THE SHADOW OF THE CRESCENT MOON is a riveting story that place over a couple hours on a rainy Friday morning in Mir Ali, a small town in a tribal region bordering Afghanistan, as three brothers and two of the women they love find their past, present, and future merge together. It is the thriller-like anticipation and the elegant language that had me reading this book in one session. I was interested in reading this book on a region in Pakistan that I knew very little about except from the pov of news updates regarding the American militia experience so I did “google” the town – Mir Ali before beginning the book and that gave me the necessary understanding to fully appreciate this enthralling storyline.
The prologue sets up the storyline as the three brothers are breakfasting together before going about their day but first they have to decide which mosque each will attend as, “It is too dangerous, too risky, to place all the family together in one mosque that could easily be hit. They no longer know by whom.”
Then as the minutes/hours tick by, we learn actually what each brother is doing and why. The flashbacks provide the necessary background information and the lyrical language shows how the people go about their lives doing ordinary things overshadowed by the hovering violence that is never spoken about out loud. While the stories concentrated mostly on the male characters, it is the two women characters whose resolve and spirit surprise those around them – their love ones and their opposers.
As the pace quickens toward the climax I am holding my breath as I turn the page to see what happens, the story ends. As I re-read the last couple of pages to see if I missed a clue it dawns on me that this ending is intentional by the author. How can she provide an ending when there is no known ending to this conflict and turmoil in this region. I might have finished reading the book but the story is not over.
Overall, this is a thought-provoking book on loyalty, identity, love, and sacrifice. A very solid debut novel and I look forward to reading future books by the author.