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The Moon Child
cover artwork 2004 Kurt Ozinga.

 

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The Moon Child

Alex Roces

 

Chapter One

 

  Maria was an outcast from the barrio, and the wild forest was her home. Like an outlawed angel, she was feared and shunned in Malana. Many folks in the barrio believed she was not human, but an enchanted being who became flesh. She had no father and no mother and was found in the forest one moonlit night under a balete tree.

She was a small girl, barely five feet, with a slender and lithe little figure. Her dark luminous eyes were pools of moonlight, her creamy skin like golden brown chocolate, and her jet-black hair was a shiny silky cape, waist-long, and scented with coconut milk.

By dawn you could see her running over the hills and meadows with her windswept hair. At dusk she would be sitting on the riverbank, a bluebird perched on her shoulder, gazing far, far away into the twilight skies.

So many stories were told about her. Frightening stories. An evil witch with great magical powers, that's what she was, they said. She would appear in the barrio at midnight, luring young men to follow her back into the hidden forest groves. There, she laid with them, made love to them, her sweating naked body gleaming in the moonlight. Then, at the height of her frenzied rapture, she transformed herself. With the dark magic of her moonpower, she turned into a huge, ferocious wildcat. She slew her lovers, ate their hearts and livers, and left their bones and carcasses to rot under the scorching sun.

The women of Malana openly hated her.

"Maria is a curse to our barrio," they said. "She causes our men to sin with lust."

The men of Malana secretly desired her.

"Come to us, Maria," they said, "and be alone no more. We would sacrifice anything just to spend one night in your arms and to share your dreams."

The men lusted for the rich, smooth texture of her skin, her supple curvaceous body, her dark almond eyes filled with moonlight and love's sweetest, darkest secrets.

"We curse you, Maria," the women said.

"We love you, Maria," the men said.

The vile curses of the women could not harm her, nor could the sweetened words of the men entrap her. She remained untouched by the mud stains of malice and lust.

"I am free," Maria said. "To live my life as the wind. To sleep with the moon, and rise with the sun. I am free."

But her freedom came with a price. And, as the seasons passed, her loneliness deepened like a drowning sea that ebbed and flowed upon the shores of her soul.

She sat by the riverbank, gazing into the changing color of the skies, and listened to the melancholy love songs the river sang to her.

Tears filled her eyes. "Do not sing of love," she said. "I am afraid of it."

Wearing a white kimono blouse and a tube-shaped red skirt, Maria climbed a beautiful green hill, jasmine growing white and fragrant on its smoothly rising slope. She reached the hilltop; it was grassy, tabular and flat as a cake. A fire tree grew there. Exploding with bright red flowers like a chandelier of flaming kisses burning on its boughs and branches.

Maria sat beneath the fire tree. Bluebirds swooped through the branches with cheerful voices. Their silky, turquoise blue feathers spangled with sunlight. She clapped her hands and they descended, perching on her arms and shoulders. Smiling, she fed them with the red flowers of the fire tree. The bluebirds burst into a happy song, and Maria's laughter was like sparkling stardust.

But something suddenly frightened the bluebirds and they flew away. Someone had come, trespassed through the hill, and was approaching her.

"Maria!" A deep voice called, and a man appeared. "Maria. Don't run away." But she was already hiding behind the fire tree. "My name is Arturo." She was peeping at him with shy and suspicious eyes, a trembling, frightened doe ready to flee. "I don't mean any harm. I only want to give you a gift."

He was tall and broad of shoulder. He wore dark trousers and a loose unbuttoned shirt revealing a muscular chest with skin like dark leather. He had the manly bearing of power and authority, and a bolo hung from his waist.

She had seen him many times before, roaming the forest, searching for her. But whenever he drew near, she ran away and hid among the pillars of vines, giant ferns, and limestone caves where he could never find her. But he kept on returning to the forest, searching for her with tireless determination.

This time she chose not to run away. She was curious about the gift he offered. No one had ever given her a gift.

From his pocket he took out an alms-pouch made of deerskin. He moved closer to give her the pouch. But when he saw how she backed away nervously, he did not go further and remained where he was.

"I will leave it here." He placed the gift at the base of the tree trunk. His dark, deep-set eyes gazed at her with intensity. "I love you."

Pain flashed in her eyes. And her tears escaped from the prison of her heart. "Do not speak of love. I do not desire it from you or from anyone."

"I love you," he repeated with a passion that could not contain itself. "You're always running away. You're always hiding. You should learn to make friends and be part of the barrio."

She suddenly grew angry. "What do you want with me? I will never be part of the barrio. They hate me and curse me. They say I turn into a wildcat and feed on human flesh. Shouldn't you be afraid of someone like me?"

"I don't believe in these stories. I believe you are a good and beautiful girl who deserves to be loved."

"You mentioned love again. If you say it once more I will leave."

"I cannot help myself. I love you."

She was gone, swiftly slipping into shrubs and trees, sprinting away. Arturo was left alone, but he was smiling. She had taken the gift. He knew that she lived in a nipa hut hidden deep in the forest, together with Lucila, an old and wise woman, known in the barrio as the Witch of the Winds.

"I don't know how much longer it will take, but I will have you as my wife."

 

 

 

 

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Author Bio

The Moon Child is Alex's first novel. Like the Egyptians, he believes writing is a Sacred Art. Through years of writing and researching, he has been seeking to know the mysteries of the Universe and the human soul. Alex is an explorer of the inner realms of spirit and a seeker of Truth. All that he learns and experiences Alex transforms into metaphysical and mythic stories.

Aside from writing, and reading voraciously, his other interests include bodybuilding, mountain climbing, art, music and traveling. Alex is also deeply involved in the study and practice of prosperity techniques for good fortune, wealth and success. Presently he is working on several new novels.

Visit Mr. Roce's web site.

Alex Roces can be reached at alex@twilighttimesbooks.com

 

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The Moon Child Copyright 2001. Alex Roces. All rights reserved by the author. Please do not copy without permission.

 

To order this book:
Format: PDF, HTML, Palm
    Payment Method ~ [U.S. & non-U.S. credit cards accepted.]
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List Price: $4.50 USD ebook

Format: Trade Paperback
    Available at
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List Price: $15.50 USD

 

  Author News

 

  Reviews

Like the aging healer Lucila, Maria was abandoned as a baby. Lucila found her and raised her as her own, teaching her "daughter" how to use herbs to heal the nearby villagers in spite of being outcasts, undesirables and even physically abused for not knowing their lineage. Lucila also knows that her ward has power as the MOON CHILD.

Maria befriends all the spirits, flora and fauna of her forestry home, but is uncomfortable with humans except for her "mother". The barrio Captain Arturo falls in love with Maria, but she initially shies away from him until he persuades her that they belong together and he would never purposely hurt her. They move into a home together not realizing buried beneath is the grave of Maya, a forest mortal maltreated by the villagers whom she cursed before dying. Additionally, Pacita, who loves Arturo, plans to destroy his relationship with Maria. At about the same time, Juanito comes to the forest playing the flute like a God as he hypnotizes all the women in a search for a soul. He may have found his soul when he falls in love with Maria.

This delightful romantic fantasy that in some ways feels like "A Midsummer Night's Dream" focuses on the need for belonging through nurturing and love. Several key protagonists behave even spitefully due to loving someone else though in some cases it is unrequited. The fantasy elements enhance the basic need to have someone love you. Though clearly Maria's tale, the support cast, (whether magical or human, kind or enviously desperate) enchant the audience in search of the "elusive butterfly of love".
Reviewed by Harriet Klausner for Midwest Book Review.
 



Our sentimental and moving story begins with an outcast named Maria, thought to be a monster, inhuman, born of an ancient curse. In the barrio in the village of Malana, she is not accepted and makes her home in the forest with a caring woman who raises her from birth. Maria is gifted with the ability to speak with enchanted spirits, befriend the animals, and a precious gift of "moonpower" that helps her in times of need as well as to foresee the future. She is chosen to bring the light of truth to this world. All of the men fall in love with her as her beauty surpasses all. But there is one who seeks out her heart with noble intentions. As Maria falls in love with the captain of the barrio, others who fear her warn her new husband of the curses she brings upon them. One day a man travels through the barrio, bringing dreams and stories to the women of the barrio. His magical ways entice the women from their husbands to listen to his songs. He falls for Maria, creating jealousy among the women, but she will not have him. His need for her love creates trouble in the village and everyone falls prey to his destructive ways. Maria must decide how to stop this strange man and save the people in the barrio but at a price.

I was hooked from the first paragraph through to the climactic ending. The characters were so thoroughly described that I felt I knew each of them personally. THE MOON CHILD is a spiritual tale of the worlds of goddesses and powers of magic, love, and truth. The story flows smoothly and adds flavor with its believable and delicious dialogue. I highly recommend this enchanting tale. Alex Roces has a winner here and I look forward to more of his works.

Reviewed by Nancy Jackson for Sime~Gen reviews.
 



After saying farewell to his father and burying his body beneath an old acacia tree, the narrator senses it is time to leave the cursed and haunted barrio. On the banks of the River Amora he rests beneath a solitary palm tree, and it is from there, the story of Maria the Moon Child unfolds.

Maria has a pure, innocent spirit. She frolics in the forest; she communes with the spirits. She is as light as a butterfly landing on a petal. Sadly, the brighter the light, the darker the challenge, and her awakening into earthly existence is the reverse, almost, of a spiritual emergence. Despite her desperate longing for it to be otherwise, she is slowly dragged down into the murk of others' intrigues and agendas.

...To the barrio comes a stranger. A man of mystery. A man with great magical powers. Juanito's eyes are a sea of swirling colors, and on his forehead is a red birthmark shaped like a crescent moon. He is the tempter, the bringer of golden roses. Maria, along with almost every other woman in the barrio, is tempted by his charms. He wants Maria: Arturo wants Maria. Maria knows that to accept one will hurt the other. Yet to accept the other will hurt the barrio.

In this book Alex Roces encapsulates the soul's journey on earth: it arrives innocent and hopeful, yet, like Maria, it is slowly made aware that circumstances oftentimes direct choices, and decisions bring pain.

This story, so beautifully written, is both mystical and magical. It feels Latin. It flows. It is rich, sensual and poetic. At times I felt my spirits soaring with its language. Alex Roces' prose, which I likened to Kahil Gibran's, a few times brought tears to my eyes for their sheer beauty.

Alex embraces, with no inhibitions, a philosophy that some would call New Age, and yet I am loathe to categorize this book. I prefer to see it as a remarkable and unusual work, written from the heart by a man who has obviously explored his feelings and isn't ashamed to reveal them. The Moon Child will appeal to anyone who wishes to drift for a while on a splendid sea of words; and to those who wish to embrace Cosmic truth, and be unfettered by society's hypocritical thinking-patterns and habits

Alex Roces is a natural storyteller. One of the ancients I suspect.

Celia A. Leaman, author, editor, reviewer for eBook Reviews Weekly.
 



"Maria the Moon Child is also a child of the dark forest, where, as an abandoned baby, she was found beneath a baleete tree by the elderly Lucila, who had herself been abandoned as a baby and now lives in a nearby nipa hut. Lucila knows Maria is a gift from the Divine Mother and possesses primeval moon power. Called the Witch of the Winds by residents of the local barrio, Lucila has healing powers, with which she helps the villagers, and knowledge of forest plants and herbs, which she teaches to Maria.

In the forest, Maria does not lack for companions: the sentient trees and flowers, the butterflies and fireflies, the bluebirds, the stars, the moon, the singing Amara River, and the enchanted spirits who enter through the baleete tree's otherworldly portal.

Because of their unknown parentage, both Lucila and Maria are distrusted by the barrio dwellers, who subject Maria to harsh insults and physical violence, so she is understandably shy when Arturo, the strong and manly captain of the barrio, pursues her with avowals of love. At first, she flees but eventually accepts him and confesses her love for him.

Their lives are complicated and endangered by the superstitions and jealousies of the villagers, especially one Pacita, who loves Arturo, and by the arrival of a handsome "green pagan god of song and magic" named Juanito, who mesmerizes the women with his colorful stories and melodious flute. He is in search of a soul, to be found only if he can find love. He loves Maria. In addition, a curse hangs over the barrio, the Curse of Maya, a beautiful woman of long ago who was also a mysterious forest creature violated by the villagers. Her grave lies beneath the new wedding home of Arturo and Maria.

In a flowing and mesmeric style, Mr. Roces paints a magical landscape in the lyrical language of "twilight dreams," through which, in search of love, his characters move, entangled in a web of destiny that extends from aeons past to the present, from celestial time to earthly time, from the revolution of the heavenly spheres to the nipa huts of Malana, the "garden of love." Mr. Roces's presentation reveals the presence of a real voice, a rarity in contemporary literature."

Reviewed by Pat H. Fredeman, author of Paradise Regained.
 



There is something special about this book. Within the first minutes of reading, the quiet intensity of the story arrested my attention. The exotic setting of a mysterious island placed somewhere in the tropics came alive under the author's crafty hand. Storming emotions and magical events drew me into a realm where I felt intrigued and in awe.

The main character, a beautiful wild girl born in the dangerous jungle comes in contact with the local villagers and the forbidden seeds of romance and passion are planted. We immerse into a world of poetry, magic, driving passions and challenges which shortly transforms the island into a bright celebration of life. The author cunningly and smoothly interweaves different worlds, which often touch on spirituality, feeding the reader's soul with a healthy doze of wonderful.

Under the writer's merciless but compassionate pen we learn to appreciate and weight our values because purity of the heart is a special gift not to be taken frivolously. We also learn that brute passion exerted without the refined comb of our reason could destroy in an instant everything we live for, leaving us forever incomplete. This book, so artfully blending visionary dreams and cruel realities makes for a unique reading experience. I recommend it to everyone.
Review by Michael Anka for Amazing Authors Showcase Reviews
 



"Very highly recommended."

The Witch of the Winds, Lucila, finds the infant Maria beneath a baleete tree. With no father or mother, Maria is a child of the forest. The people of the local barrio believe her to be enchanted and not born of earthly flesh, greatly distrusting that which they do not understand. Lucila believes the child to be a gift of the Divine Mother, and raises the babe as her own, early recognizing and nurturing the child's gifts. Maria learns Lucila's healing gifts in addition to her own gift of moonpower.

Unlike his fellow villagers who either display unbridled jealousy or insatiable lust toward Maria, Barrio Captain Arturo brings her gifts and the sincerity of his heart. Although the people he leads may hate and curse Maria, Arturo loves Maria as she deserves to be loved. He vows to have her as his wife, gently pursuing Maria despite the fact that she discourages him. Just as he wins Maria's love, however, another man comes that offers a gift of mystery and magic.

Juanito, Charmer of the Groves, seeks the woman who can complete his soul. He vows to win Maria although she is pledged to another. With a gift of music he captivates the women of the barrio, leading them into great danger. Only Maria tries to resist his power. He cares nothing for the harm and death he inflicts, only focusing on his desire. In addition, the people of the barrio still bear the curse of Maya, a woman who violated the sanctity of the laws that preserve the order and morality of the barrio. Between Juanito and the curse, the people of the barrio are in great danger.

ALEX ROCES creates a remarkable literary work rich in mythos and spirituality in THE MOON CHILD. Like Michiavelli's THE PRINCE, THE MOON CHILD becomes a treatise on the truth about power, revealing the difference between perceptions of one who holds power, and the truth of their nature. Like THE CELESTINE PROPHESY, however, Roces also inspires improvement, growth, and honesty, in addition to examining the nature of truth and love. Specifically, Maria is misunderstood and underestimated. With a sincere heart full of love, she stands misjudged by the very people who need her most because they fear her power.

With these complex layers concealed beneath the deceptively simplistic narrative, THE MOON CHILD reads like a fairy tale. Yet tales within the tale reveal observations and teachings rich in meaning, as Roces brings a rich understanding of psychology and metaphysics to the narrative. As a result, THE MOON CHILD achieves a complexity that will hold its readers mesmerized. With an enthralling voice as lovely as the music that holds Juanito's listeners entranced, THE MOON CHILD comes very highly recommended.

Cindy Penn, Senior Editor Wordweaving.com
eBook Specialist, Midwest Book Reviews
 



Four stars

Maria, mysterious, wild child of the forest, and Arturo, captain of his barrio, are star-crossed lovers whose passion for each other is deep and abiding despite the barrio's fear of her ability to communicate with the enchanted forest spirits. They shun the lonely young woman, demand that Arturo not wed her, but their love prevails . . . until the charismatic wandering minstrel, Juanito, arrives and charms all the barrio's women. Will Maria, too, succumb to his wiles? Will her moon magic protect her? Will she, as distrusted as she is by Arturo's people, be able to protect the barrio's women from falling victim to Juanito's blandishments? And if she cannot, what havoc will he wreak on the people Arturo loves and feels responsible for?

This fascinating tale, an allegory of the Garden of Eden, is written with hauntingly lyrical language that draws the readers into the scenes, into the lives and hearts of the characters. Filled with legends of a distant past that are used to explain present-day events, The Moon Child is an interesting story in a refreshingly different setting.

Reviewed by Judy Gill for Scribes World reviews.
 



Found as an infant by Lucila a witch with great healing powers, Maria is raised by the old woman who believed she was sent as a gift from the Divine mother. Maria a child of the forest and known to the people of barrio as The Moon Child was believed to have the power to heal and see things others could not. Yet because of her abilities the people of barrio feared her, calling her an evil witch that was not of their world. A wildcat. A flesh eater. Hated by those who did not understand her unique gifts, Maria chooses to seclude herself from others and especially from love.

After rescuing Maria from an attack, Arturo Captain of barrio falls madly in love with the girl and is determined to win her heart. Despite her feelings toward the people of barrio, Maria finds herself falling for Artura as well, but suddenly a mysterious drifter named Juanito a Charmer of the Groves arrives mesmerizing Maria and the women of barrio.

When Juanito offers Maria everything including a beautiful world, she refuses and chooses to be with Arturo her one and only love. Driven by the need to make Maria his own, Juanito vows that Maria will one day be his and then his soul will be complete. With his flute in hand Juanito begins to play his love songs captivating the women of barrio, yet Maria is able to resist his charms causing even greater danger to the people of barrio.

When the people of barrio decide Jaunito must be stopped, it is Maria who must stop him or die trying in order to save the people of barrio and those she loves. Now only true love will test her courage until the very end.

While the novel does follow the lives of several characters, Fantasy Author Alex Roces still manages to focus on our Moon Child Maria as she learns to live, love and survive in a world who's cruelty can sometimes leave a lasting affect on those who are different. Beautifully written, Alex's knowledge of love and emotions captivates readers into a world like no other while showing us how deep love can truly go. It's worth the read and I can honestly say there are a few moments you will want to have the tissues in reach.

Reviewed by Shyan Marie August 2004 for Writers and Readers Network.

 

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