Theo Fenraven creates an atmosphere and paints a vivid picture in setting the scene for Half Moon House. However, the published blurb states that this book is about two men, Jon and Cass, starting a business, solving a murder, and dealing with a betrayal. While the book does deal with those areas, the main focus is on the betrayal and the dissolution of Jon’s marriage. His marriage is stated in the published blurb, but had it been made clear that this would be the major focus of the book, it would not have been a storyline I would have chosen to follow.
Jon has been out of work for many months. The tension at home is escalating and Fenraven shines a light on how unemployment stresses a marriage, from finances, to fighting over responsibility, to the apathy that ensues, and then the betrayal.
Cass is a former drag queen. He has been called a spirit child as he has the ability to see ghosts and if he could change one thing about himself that would be it. He is somewhat of a drifter and has yet to settle anywhere.
The story then picks up with Jon and Cass starting a business to build a tiny house community. Woven throughout is a ghost looking for rest and a friendship developing between the men. Jon’s wife and marriage completely overshadows all of this and the other aspects become side stories that are not seamlessly woven into the fabric of the book.
We are told that Cass is falling for Jon, who makes no issue that he is bisexual. None of their interactions have romantic tones. There are no looks, no gestures, nothing to show that these men want more than friendship. At one point Jon says he’s not ready for another relationship and then has a one night stand with a new character that is on page briefly. The background of this character is then brought in with a few sentences, but then was not further developed. After the one night, Jon is then all of a sudden ready to forge ahead with a relationship with Cass. There are also other secondary characters that appear from another book and I was definitely missing what was trying to be tied in by not knowing their story.
Any intimacy between the men comes at the end of the book and the scenes were off page. While this upheld the tone of the story, any feelings between the men besides friendship are not conveyed at all and, because of this, I had a hard time seeing them as a couple.
Fenraven delivers the aggressive tension between Jon and his wife as their situation escalates and then explodes. But there remains no sexual tension between Jon and Cass, who are presented as upcoming romantic partners and their ending was not believable to me. The mystery and murder wants to imply what can happen when people are pushed to the breaking point, but it didn’t quite get there and didn’t all fit together. I wouldn’t recommend this book if you were looking for a romance, but if you wanted a tension filled end to a marriage laced with bitterness that is what this story primarily offers.