This is not a book review. It is not even the opposite of a book review. It is a sideways book review that takes a trip into the unknown lands of Faery, but not too far in because the reader is unable to figure out what the heck is going on, but the words look pretty so she keeps trying to delve deeper into the book. Unfortunately, she is soon brought up short by not being able to follow what the heck is going on, because the prose is not only purple, its purple in a completely different language. I first read the Roc edition of this book in the 1990s, not long after it had come out.
I have occasionally made it half way through the book. I have never finished it, though I have tried. The closest I can compare this book is maybe Mythago Wood (another book I was never able to get into), with maybe a dash of The Folk of the Air. The basic plot is that a woman named Ariane comes home to visit her friend Sylvie, and gets dragged into a fantasy world they had both built. Ariane has to remember long forgotten spells and mythology in order to navigate through the world and find Sylvie, before Something Very Bad happens. On the way she is helped or hindered by various mythic figures, and her adventures become very complicated.
The language of the story is very dense and very purple, with lots of dialect and constructed language. I have occasionally described Moonwise as “Like Under Milkwood, only more confusing.” The world building is vaguely Celtic, and there are many shiny, brilliant bits underneath the flow of words, but it is very difficult for me to figure out what is going on here, or why. I recommend this book in the hopes that someone will read it, and will be able to explain to me what is going on, because I’m pretty sure it has a happy ending.