Our Moira’s Pen book review tackles this short story anthology from Megan Whalen Turner that invites fans back into the world of the Queen’s Thief series.
It isn’t every day, or even every year for that matter, that we are graced with a new novel by Megan Whalen Turner. As a long time fan of hers, I have become used to waiting. I thought that after her Queen’s Thief series ended I wouldn’t have any new books to wait for of hers for some time. As always, she surprised her fans. This time it is with this gift: Moira’s Pen.
For long-time fans, or for anyone who enjoys subtly and depth within prose, Turner’s writing doesn’t disappoint. Moira’s Pen is an anthology of short stories written within the world of her Queen’s Thief series.
Most of the short stories within Moira’s Pen are from the books in the series, featured after the final pages of the novels. Some of them are from out of print versions of the series, whereas some are from newer prints. Another is from a different anthology, which was difficult to find before now. And a few of them are new, never before read by her fans.
All in all, Moira’s Pen feels like a hug from both Turner and her pantheon of fictional gods after all these years, and I couldn’t be happier to write this Moira’s Pen book review.
Although I read some of the short stories before this anthology came out, most of them I had not. There is something breathtaking about Turner’s writing—it sweeps me away into her world. The mythology within the Queen’s Thief is well thought out, and each instance of the characters coming into contact with one of the gods seems surreal. It isn’t often, even in fantasy, that gods and humans interact.
One of my favorite things about the Queen’s Thief series is that it is reminiscent of Greece and Byzantium. To be able to read about Turner’s trip to Mycenae and in turn learn that the inspiration for the underwater temple in The Thief was that of a cistern in Mycenae itself was so wonderful, I gasped and immediately told my roommate, who has also read The Thief. Learning anything about Turner’s process, or how she was inspired to write a series so beloved means so much after all this time. Not only that, but to learn where certain jewelry within the series is based from within history cements how much I adore Turner’s attention to detail within the series. What seems like a small, insignificant addition to the story probably had been researched in-depth. Queen’s Thief was written delicately, and each detail embedded within was wrapped in love and respect.
Although there is over 25 years between The Thief and Moira’s Pen, as soon as I began reading Moira’s Pen, it was as if no time at all had passed since I first picked up The Thief. My journey with Eugenides started in 2008. To have Moria’s Pen in my hands feels like returning home to a place I didn’t think I’d ever visit again. Reading Moira’s Pen had me smiling with each short story, illustration, and research tidbit Turner chose to tell.
Out of all of the stories within Moira’s Pen, the one I adored the most was “Breia’s Earrings.” To see a young Eugenides, not yet the Thief of Eddis, made me happy. Eugenides as a child is so rare to see within the world that Turner created, so to see how he acted and reacted within such a setting was delightful because it is so easy to see the man he becomes within his smaller, younger self.
Not only that, but we also get to read about Irene and Helen as children—younger versions of the queens we know and love. I have a fondness that comes with reading Queen’s Thief that doesn’t come from any other series. I sigh a happy sigh when I think of it, and getting a glimpse of these characters I’ve cherished for years will not be forgotten.
The best final lines of a story belong to “The Destruction of Hamiathes’s Gift” in this anthology of carefully crafted prose. A gasp, a grin, and an ungodly noise escaped my lips as I read it. I’ll leave you with that, and that alone, because describing Turner’s turn of phrase will never live up the actual words themselves. I am nothing if not a humble fan, ever grateful for a chance to read more within the realm of Eugenides and his shenanigans. Moira’s Pen gives even more depth into that world, along with space for Turner to tell snippets of a story she otherwise wouldn’t have been able to.
Reading Moira’s Pen felt as though I got to sit by Turner’s side as she was able to play in the sandbox of her own imagination and share it with me.
‘Moira’s Pen’ published on November 1, 2022
This article was written by Subjectify contributor Beth Aderhold. Look for more recommendations like this Moira’s Pen book review on our books page.