★★★★ Blood Moon: Part 1 marks the first entry in S. Yurvati’s Chroma Crossing Chronicles, introducing readers to the plucky, clumsy artist called Candy Cane (an unfortunate name, to be sure) and her counterpart, a hunter named Thorne, who resides in an entirely separate dimension altogether. After her father’s sudden death, Candy finds herself in possession of property and money that will finally allow her to study art at SCAD, a prestigious art school in Savannah. What’s more, a mysterious client wants Candy to paint a portrait for him and offers to pay handsomely for her services. It seems everything is working out for Candy—that is, until she starts becoming the unwitting victim of certain “accidents” all around the city. It seems someone has it in for her, and she’ll need her friends’ help if she’s to figure out who the aggressor is before she herself faces death.
Yurvati’s strength here is in painting broad brushstrokes with a likable protagonist. After all, artist Candy Cane is going to be the backbone of this series, so it makes perfect authorial sense to spend time crafting her personality with care. Unlike other fantasy leads, Candy has some very real flaws and setbacks that make her vulnerable and leave room for character growth as the series deepens and evolves. Readers should be warned, however, that this book contains several violent sex scenes; anyone with a sensitivity to rape and sexual assault should take care. Yurvati places a disclaimer regarding this topic at the beginning of her book, so thankfully the chances of someone unwittingly coming across this material will be quite low. While not technically a cliffhanger, the conclusion of the book takes Candy’s journey in an entirely new direction, and nicely sets up plenty of space for Yurvati to explore in the book’s planned sequel.