Harvest Moon is an anthology of stories, each with a very strong female lead, and all are in fantasy-based worlds. Each of the stories' heroines has to overcome an obstacle to grow into her potential. In most cases those obstacles, if not handled correctly, could end in the heroines' deaths. There are three different and unique worlds, and what binds them together are that they contain unique challenges their characters must overcome. Each story is set to occur under the phase of the moon called the Harvest Moon.
Persephone, our heroine in "A Tangled Web," is a young woman, daughter of Demeter, a Goddess of Olympus — and she is in love. The problem is that her mother is the Goddess of Nature who refuses to believe she has grown up. When Persephone falls in love, she is ready for the next step, but she knows her mother will not approve her choice. Not only that, she will make it downright impossible for them to be together. She and her true love, Hades, have come up with a foolproof plan that will force Demeter into accepting their marriage. What they forget to take into account is the tradition, the power that shapes everything in the Five Hundred Kingdoms.
In an unexpected twist, Brunnhilde and her husband Leopold, visitors to Olympus, become a part of the plan. Brunnhilde is mistaken for Persephone and kidnapped by the God of death. Leopold must convince the Gods of Olympus to help him save her.
I love the setting of Olympus and that the Gods and Goddesses are also affected by the tradition. It adds a satisfying twist to the myths we grew up with. Mercedes Lackey's characters are well thought out, and both Persephone and Brunnhilde are set as the heroines. I am not sure that Persephone is developed as strongly as most of her leads, so she does seem a bit weak. She is pushed around by her mother, and she seems to lack the sharpness that is usually instilled in her other female characters. On the other hand, Persephone's mother is exactly what I would expect. She is spoiled and reckless, and in her anger and grief she forgets all that is important. Leopold is a brave and noble Prince and adds a warmth to the story. He is a human in a land of immortals.
In "Cast in Moonlight" by Michelle Sagara, we meet an amazing 13-year-old girl, Kaylin Naya. She is captured trying to kill Lord Grammayre, the commander of the Hawks, one of three groups in the city of Elantra that enforce the Emperor's law. The Hawk lord, as he is known, sees something in this girl that is worth saving. She is small for her age, dirty, bruised, and covered with some type of runes or marks, covering her body. She is in rags and looks like she has not had a meal in some time. He makes a decision that will change the way investigations are done in the city.