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Literature / Moonflowers

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The cover concept, Jan 2019. Baybayin translation: Bulaklak sa buwan.

Moonflowers is about an Irish guy, an American girl, and the dog they rescue. Who is secretly the girl's presumed-dead father.

...Yeah, it's that kind of story.

And by story, I mean "Fairy Tale."

And by fairy-tale, I mean "the unsettling kind."
The album summary.

Moonflowers is an Urban Fantasy Troper Work published on the HitRECord website by Sharysa, under the name "Logophile." It was started in April of 2014, and is in-progress. It was submitted in three Season 2 theme collaborations: "Home," "Secrets," and "The Dark." (Although "Home" didn't make it into the final cut for Season 2 themes.) It is also being uploaded to Inkshares, a crowdfunding publisher (link is here), and the Wattpad website here.

Alima Song is an Asian-American young woman who moves to the fictional Irish town of Cloncarrig, about two months after her parents vanish. When her hike on the Cliffs of Moher ends in an unexpected storm, she waits it out in Moher Tower with Malachy Bray and his little brother Logan. Over the weeks that she settles into her new life in Ireland and gets to know Mal and his friends, she gets pursued by the Hunter, a Folk man wearing an Irish Elk skull who leads The Wild Hunt.

She then stays at the house of the town's innkeeper and cunning-man, Ogma O'Luain. Soon afterward, Alima finds an injured white wolfdog and takes him in, unaware that the dog is actually her now-cursed father Ned.

The main Story Arc for Moonflowers is almost Slice of Life apart from the Fair Folk, as it follows Alima adjusting to Ireland and dealing with her parents' loss. The second one follows Ned and reveals that Alima and her parents are three of the soon-to-be victims in the Fairy Raid. The Raid happens every seven years on Halloween/Samhain in a random Celtic country, and is dreaded since nobody knows who the marks will be, and neither can they stop it from happening.

Moonflowers draws heavily on the overlapping Celtic Mythology and Fairy Tale elements, and is quite a Fantasy Kitchen Sink seeing as All Myths Are True. While the plot focuses on an ensemble cast, Malachy and Alima are the main leads, with Ned also prominent.

Not to be confused with the Japanese folktale called "Moonflower." Neither is it to be confused with the prominent species in Hanazuki: Full of Treasures.

Tropes in the work:

  • Aerith and Bob: Mal (Malachy), Owen, Teis (Matthaeus), Aine, Brighid, Harry, Ogma, Mag (Margaret), and Alima. Maidin (Irish for "morning") semi-counts, since he's named after his river.
  • Alliterative Name: Several, but not enough to be unusual. The O'Luains are a slightly Alliterative Family, and the Hunter's full title is the Horned Hunter.
  • All Animals Are Domesticated: Averted. Ned acts like a dog and is assumed to be a wolfdog, but Persephone wonders why Alima hasn't noticed that a wolf is acting tame. Turns out the humans only think he's a wolfdog due to the curse. Plus, even the technically-domestic stray cats Alima fosters aren't properly socialized, thanks to living in the woods for several years.
  • All Myths Are True / Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Alima gets advice from her Louisianan friend's aunt (a Vodun mambo), and is friends with a Blackfoot guy who gave her a sweetgrass shampoo recipe. Later characters are Hades and Persephone of Greece, a Chinese patron-spirit of Ned's family, Artio of Celtic Mythology, and Mayari the Filipino moon-goddess. Since there are heavy regional differences between different countries' magic, "all myths are true" is probably literal.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: The Horned Hunter is the personification of hunting. It's also hinted that Maidin doesn't just live in the river, but that he is the river.
  • Arcadia: Deconstructed when Alima buys Pete's stone shielingnote  and its hectare of land for extremely cheap: It's only half-modern (it has no bathroom sink and a wood-burning stove), in a very bad location (right at the edge of town, noted for fairy trouble), and the current price is so low because Pete's been trying to sell it for years. The shieling's also bad at math, another reason buyers are reluctant.
  • Bambification: The older and non-sugary version, tying in with Celtic Mythology. The Hunter wears a deer-skull with burning red sockets, and is referred to as "the deer-man" by Ned and Lucy before they learn his title. Ogma O'Luain says when the Hunter wears an Irish Elk skull instead (whose antlers are as wide as a car), he means business. As pictured, an Irish Elk skull is featured prominently on the recent cover-art concept.
    • The Fianna are a positive version, as they wear brown suits and give Alima a deer-antler whistle. It turns out useful when Owen gets gay-bashed in Galway.
    • Drawing on more deer symbolism, the Hunter uses his elk-skull in Westermark Howe to gore his opponents. The Fianna need to get him out of the throne room and get the skull off to level the field.
    • Maidin states that the deer is a very masculine symbol, as he remarks that the Hunter must be testosterone-poisoned from wearing the skull all the time.
  • Big Damn Heroes: When the Morrigan rescues Lucy, she turns into a horse, smashes a glass room to pieces, and turns the shards into crows. The crows then slow down the Hunter when he tries to chase after them.
  • Bizarrchitecture: The glass room in the fairy-hill; it seems to have no doors or windows, takes a goddess to break through, and may double as a portal into rings of fairy-grass.
    • The Hawthorn Fort has a Mobile Maze of hawthorn trees under bridges, where people are tossed in through the thorn-covered Bloomless Door in the railing; also, said door "opens like a mouth." Its throne room is an underground cave with prehistoric paintings, and the Night's Throne is carved into the wall from amethyst and lapis lazuli.
  • Blood Oath / Magically-Binding Contract: Ned swears to kill the Hunter before he kills anyone in the Fairy Raid, as the first known victim is his daughter.
  • Bloody Murder: Folk blood burns humans, and can also corrode car seats and metal. In a reversal, the blood of humans who've just eaten rock-salt can burn fairies in turn.
  • Bonding over Missing Parents: The main point in Mal and Alima's friendship (Mal's parents died, and Alima's are missing), which becomes a relationship in the twenty-second chapter.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: The Fianna are a group of boisterous young men/gods wearing suits. They're also the first people Aengus Og calls for help, and two of them can lift a car.
    • Matthaeus is clumsy and awkward, but he's a skilled enough jeweler that Alima's impressed by Owen's runestone. The Norse gods give him weird jobs like "make jewelry out of your boyfriend's hair" and "make jewelry in the dark."
    • Maidin the Cloud Cuckoo Lander river-spirit is one of two fairies (the second being the Hunter) who can pass through Cloncarrig's walls... because Maidin doesn't go through the WALLS, but the levees by his river.
  • By the Eyes of the Blind: True to Celtic Mythology, fairies have inherent second-sight. Maidin can see human souls as well as their bodies, and The Wild Hunt have telepathy they gleefully use to torment Brighid Brennan.
    • The Tuatha De also have second-sight; they can home in on details like the trimmed branches of orchard trees, and time sometimes slows down for them.
  • Calling Card: The deer/Irish-elk skull is the Hunter's calling card, as Ogma O'Luain has both kinds of skulls. The Hunter also leaves a carefully-reassembled orange peel in Mal's parking spot, which changes into a deer skull after Owen inspects it.
  • Cats Are Magic: They have a distinct type of magic, can learn human magic, and the three cats so far (King Brian, Dandelion the stray, and Dandelion's unnamed son) instantly see through Ned's curse.
  • Changeling Tale: Invoked; Owen was "suspected" to be a changeling and nearly killed by the Knights of Aaron several years ago. The group stated numerous times that it was just an excuse to kill the gay guy—not only was Owen twenty years old instead of an infant or a small child, the Knights didn't even bother testing him first.
    • Inverted in the main plot regarding the trope's character dynamics; instead of Alima getting abducted while her parents Ned and Lucy try to get her back, they're abducted for a huge chunk of the story and she's left extremely vulnerable due to grief.
  • Cheap Gold Coins: Averted Trope in Chapter 30. When Alima is at the grocery store, a selkie boy has ONE gold cumal that the cashier has no change for, and Mayari has to convert it into a stack of modern bills so he can pay for his things. Aine and Harry later note that cumals are worth three hundred euros, and Alima muses that gold dollars in the American Old Colonies are about a week's pay.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Alima is very protective of her hip-length wavy hair, which catches the Hunter's attention. Also, her offerings to her missing parents in case they were dead helps keep her mother Lucy from getting malnourished in the Otherworld.
    • Also played when Alima's revealed to have a bear tattoo, and the Tuatha de Danaan immediately bring in the bear-goddess Artio since tattoos can establish links to deities.
    • The moon/night imagery is Foreshadowing for the moon-goddess Mayari.
  • Composite Character: "The Horned Hunter" as a title is technically a blend of the ancient "Horned God" archetype, and the English figure "Herne the Hunter." Of course, real-life mythology says anyone from ghosts, to fairies, to the god ODIN, are leaders of The Wild Hunt, so it's not much trouble.
  • Cool Old Guy: Ogma. An unflappable Deadpan Snarker who can lift his unconscious adult grandson.
    • He's named after the god Ogma, who starts appearing later on to help the mortal cast deal with The Fair Folk. He gets rid of the entire Wild Hunt by outwitting the Hunter.
  • Corrupt Church: Shades of it with the Knights of Aaron, who are well-known enough that people in Galway have heard of Owen's near-death at their hands. And they try to finish the job.
  • Culture Clash: While discussing how the peach tree in Mal's garden needed a large branch trimmed off, Alima mentions that her father loved peach wood since it's lucky in Asia. Mal gives her a comb made from part of the branch as a housewarming gift. Alima's Chinese-born grandfather gets amused and has to explain that peach-wood gifts are also popular for engagements.
    • In a darker note, the Culture Clash between The Fair Folk and humans is a huge part of the story's conflict.
    • The Christian Irish are quite different from pagan old-walkers. Christians can't detect old-walker magic or recognize deities, and people remark that Owen's Hot-Blooded personality is typical old-walker behavior.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Ned's first attack on the Hunter results in Ned getting thrown into a tree. Luckily, Artio arrives and curb-stomps the Hunter in turn.
  • Crazy-Prepared: In "Can I get there by candlelight," Brighid Brennan carries a lot of odd things around, as she's a nurse. She has a soundproofing orb, which she uses the moment Duyen and Jude start loading their guns since shooting guns in a car without ear protection is a bad idea. She also has nettle pills which Jude attempts to use to bolster the car's wrecked wards (it doesn't work, but the intent is clearly there), and when she's hit with elf-shot and suffering a heart attack, she takes aspirin to buy more time. However, it's more that she's resourceful than actually planning for strange situations.
    • The Hunter has set up the entire story due to his machinations, making it much harder for the gods to protect people from him. When the Morrigan travels to the Otherworld and asks the Hawthorn Fort's villagers for help, he's already terrified them into obedience.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Among the first spirits who step in to help Alima's family? Hades and Persephone, the rulers of the dead. Their domain over death is specifically why they're helping—they're the gods of the dead, not the gods of "serial-killing an entire family for amusement."
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: The Fair Folk baffle and terrify humans, and even deities get fed up at how "crazy" they act. Perfectly in line with Celtic Mythology.
  • Don't Go Into the Woods: Thanks to The Wild Hunt roaming Ireland, Cloncarrig's inhabitants are terrified of going into the forest. Once Ogma O'Luain warns everyone about the Fairy Raid, everyone sticks close to town.
  • 11th-Hour Ranger: The Filipino moon-goddess Mayari arrives days before Samhain to help the Songs, since Lucy and Alima are Filipino. She would have come earlier, but most people don't even know her NAME anymore.
  • Enhanced Archaic Weapon: The Folk's arrows are called elf-shot, which are magically enhanced and cause heart attacks. It's lifted from folklore, where elf-shot was thought to be the cause of sudden and inexplicable death/injury.
  • Everything Talks: Houses, animals, plants, and combs can talk, as per the Fairy Tale elements.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: The Hunter's boxed the Irish and American spirits into a corner when trying to help the Songs, but he's too arrogant to notice (or care) that Ned's father is a Chinese immigrant with his own gods. He also has no idea why Hades and Persephone stepped in to help Alima, since "basic compassion" clearly isn't in his vocabulary.
  • Evil Is Deathly Cold: Encounters with The Wild Hunt leave one shivering.
  • Exact Words: The story runs on this, thanks to the antagonists being The Fair Folk.
    • "Nobody living" can help with Ned's specific part of the curse, but that only applies to humans. Animals and spirits/deities can see Ned and communicate with him.
    • "The Irish and American spirits" are largely unable to help the Song family. However, Artio (Celtic), Hades and Persephone (Greek), and the Lady of Scales (Chinese) are unhindered. Much later on, Mayari (Filipino) arrives with great difficulty.
    • Traditional protection against the Folk has several caveats: Salt keeps them from hurting you, but only rock salt. Inside-out clothing gives magical protection, but ordinary clothes can't protect you against weapons. And while Cold Iron is a potent defense against fairies, the Folk can smell large amounts of it.
    • The Hunter's massive Pride is his Fatal Flaw, since he only made sure the American and European gods couldn't help. However, the Song family is Asian-American, and Mayari has arrived from the Philippines.
    • On a lighter note, Maidin can bypass Cloncarrig's walls much more easily than the Hunter because he's a river-spirit and he goes through the levees.
  • The Fair Folk: Extremely feared, although the antagonists are The Wild Hunt and the Horned Hunter. Maidin the river-spirit saved Owen from drowning and is very friendly, if scatterbrained.
  • Fairy Tale: Contains many elements of the genre and is described as a Fairy Tale in the summary.
  • Foil: Blonde, friendly, and Christian Malachy contrasts sharply with blackhaired, snarky, and pagan Owen, who says that Mal's his best friend.
    • Maidin's talkative, had a relationship with Owen for at least one lifetime, and takes part in baptisms. The Hunter is cruel, arrogant, dismissive of Christianity, and enjoys screwing with humans. Moreover, their color-schemes obviously follow the Red Oni, Blue Oni trope—red for the Hunter and blue for Maidin—but the Blue character (Maidin) is the friendly and expressive one, while the Red character (the Hunter) has an extreme Lack of Empathy.
    • The Fianna and the Hunter both have deer motifs and red clothing, but the Fianna are protective of humans while the Hunter is religiously feared. The Fianna are friendly and boisterous, but the Hunter lacks empathy and is openly called a "gangster" or a serial-killer. The Fianna also ride motorcycles while the Hunter rides horses, though the latter is out of necessity since The Fair Folk can't handle Cold Iron. They're both associated with hunting horns, but the Hunter uses a literal horn, while the Fianna have antler whistles that make horn sounds.
  • Food Chains: The Hunter disguises himself as Mal and gives Alima an orange before driving off with her. She thinks they're going home, but after she realizes who he is and stabs him, she wakes up with the car stuck in a freeway ditch. The policewoman who finds her said she was missing for at least an hour.
  • Functional Magic: As in Real Life, most of the sub-categories show up. Sympathetic Magic is one of the main plot elements, as Lucy's trapped in the Otherworld for a long time because the Hunter has a lock of her hair.
    • Reversed Sympathetic Magic is also implied with Alima's housewarming: Ned worries that she won't get the right gifts from her friends and won't have enough magical protection from The Fair Folk, since housewarmings are treated like parties among younger generations. Marian (one generation above Ned himself) transplants a moonflower cutting into a pot for Alima's gift and advises Owen to mix some of their yard's soil in with the regular potting soil; when he tells Alima, she's amused and calls it a gift of "Irish land."
  • Genre-Busting: According to this, the author essentially started out writing from the summary.
    [I]f it had to be classified, it would be a dramatic urban-fantasy with heavy shades of horror/thriller and downplayed romance. So yeah, "modern fairy-tale" is a lot shorter.
  • God's Hands Are Tied: Legal magic is fucking up the Tuatha De Danaan on helping Alima: She's not American anymore, so the American spirits can't help her, but she needs to live in Ireland for five years before being recognized as a citizen. Hence, the Irish gods can only help her if she's in direct danger from the Wild Hunt. (Seeing as the Hunter's pulled off at least one Xanatos Gambit, he probably knew this.) On the other hand, spirits from other countries are barely hindered if at all, since the Hunter is too arrogant to think anyone outside of Ireland would step in.
  • Grimmification: As stated in the summary, Moonflowers is "the unsettling kind" of fairy tale.
  • Hair-Contrast Duo: Hades has black hair (stoic, intense, and socially inept) and his wife Persephone is blonde (cheerful and energetic). Mal and Alima are a gender-flipped contrast: While both are friendly, the blonde Mal Used to Be More Social while Alima enjoys teasing him about things.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Malachy is blond and very nice. Brighid Brennan has baby-blond hair and works in both a vet clinic and a human hospital. Spirit-wise, Persephone is very much this.
  • Hijacked by Jesus: Averted in the Hunter's Breaking Speech, when Mal tries to defend Alima from the Wild Hunt; Christians are less powerful against the Fair Folk (or at least against the Hunter himself), in spite of syncretized pagan practices. When the Knights of Aaron throw holy water at a Folk boy who helps Owen survive an icy river (later revealed to be Maidin), it just makes him itch. Later on, it's shown that the village baptizes their children in Maidin's river, so he would hardly be affected by his OWN water.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: The Fairy Raid takes place on Samhain/Halloween.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: After Hades and Persephone arrive, Ogma realizes that Alima and her parents were chosen for the Fairy Raid—every seven years in a Celtic country, seven mortals get cursed as "marks" and hunted down on Samhain/Halloween. People can't predict who they are, nor can they stop the Raid from happening. And since only two of the marks survived the last Fairy Raid due to Hermes chancing upon them, survival rates are very low.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The chapters are named after children's games.
  • Impostor-Exposing Test: As it gets closer to Samhain, Cloncarrig's residents asking visitors their names and hold some Cold Iron or chunks of rock-salt, to prove they're not fairies. Brighid's cousin Tressach, who's been living away for a while, is quite annoyed when Ogma O'Luain tests him.
  • Insubstantial Ingredients: When Persephone asks if Hades wants raspberry jam, he declines because he doesn't like too much red. Ned also describes Hades' scent as a mix of dusty money and "the calm at the end of a life."
    • Ned's contract with the Lady of Scales involves breaking the Hunter's curse in exchange for the color of his eyes. It's not a big deal to humans (though there's some risk of going blind), but the important part is that fairies think Ned's sacrifice is huge.
    • Owen can sense people and spirits, often through smell. They're clearly not physical scents—he mixes up the goddess Brighid and his boyfriend Teis' scents because they both smell like "home."
  • Invulnerable Horses / Somewhere, an Equestrian Is Crying: Played With. Fairy-horses can reach 100mph speeds, but they can't keep it up and they wear out in a few minutes like normal horses. They're also subject to getting shot, hit with cars, and stampeding each other in a panic. However, amidst his cohorts in the Wild Hunt, the Hunter can jump his horse over a mass of panicking horses and Alima's car. Justified since both rider and mount are explicitly magical.
  • Invisible to Normals: Everyone thinks Cursed-Ned is a wolfdog, and they can't hear him talking. Only Ogma, Ned's wife Lucy, gods/spirits, and animals can speak to him and see that he's a full wolf.
    • The selkie in the Galway store can see Mayari, while most other shoppers cannot.
  • Knight Templar: The Knights of Aaron are a Christian group who try to kill someone because people claim he's a changeling, despite said person being twenty years old with no sign of the usual Folk traits.
  • Lampshade Hanging: One of Mag's friends was thinking about getting a Japanese tattoo, and Mag drags him to the closest Asian possible (the Chinese-Filipino Alima) before he actually gets inked. Alima then reveals that 1) it's in Chinese since she can read it in the first place, and 2) it says "Child's joyous arrival" instead of "warrior/soldier."
    Ned: I knew Chinese lessons would pay off! And Lucy said we were being stereotypical!
    • In another chapter, Ned notes that "White people love Asian stuff."
    • Being in a relationship confers magical protection, since the Hunter makes a big deal that Mal isn't around in "Can I get there by candlelight." Alima reminds him that she doesn't need Mal to use her knife.
    • Lucy and Ned can't talk to Mayari for very long before she's forced back into the Otherworld. Ned mentions that they could ask their ancestors about a dark-skinned woman, and Lucy mentions that everyone from "kind of tan" to "mistaken for black" is called "dark-skinned" in Asia.
  • Like Reality, Unless Noted: The world works mostly like our world, except magic and the gods of many pantheons are confirmed to exist.
  • Loophole Abuse: Nobody living can help Alima, and the Irish gods can only help if she's in immediate danger. Enter Hades, the Greek god of the dead.
    • The Lady Of Scales says that while American and Irish spirits are unable to help the Song family, other countries are fine. Hades and Persephone are the Greek rulers of the dead, and the Lady is Chinese.
    • Hades exploits the Hunter's lack of empathy by being a good Samaritan who "happens" to find the Fianna trying to subdue the Hunter, takes Lucy's hair, and brings it back to her. Since he technically didn't know it was Lucy's hair and didn't tell the Irish gods his plan, it worked.
    • Averted with the fairy villagers forced to obey the Hunter's wishes; they could technically get around his order of "don't help the marks in the Fairy Raid" by asking the gods, but he is their king, and not only has he forbade them to help the European gods, he'll slaughter the ENTIRE VILLAGE if someone tries.
  • Loss of Identity: Ogma O'Luain says people don't know if the Horned Hunter has a name. Maidin confirms later that he doesn't, because he gave it up to become a Force of Nature.
  • Lost Common Knowledge: Downplayed Trope. There's a lot of forgotten magical knowledge between generations: Pete needs to tell Alima that the offering-pool isn't a well (she last saw one when she was a child), but her father Ned immediately recognizes it and uses it to contact Lucy.
    • Once Alima buys the shieling, Ned warns goddess-Brighid that most people will treat a housewarming like a party and they may not give Alima the right gifts, so it clearly used to be a magical ritual.
    • Ned in turn knows that peach-wood is lucky in Chinese culture, but when Mal gives Alima a peach-wood comb at her housewarming, Ned's father Feng (who was born in China) has to tell them the extra detail that it's used for engagements. Luckily, Mal intended it as a Relationship Upgrade—just not that far up.
    • The Folk and humans are also missing a lot of key details about each other. In the Hawthorn Fort's village, the Morrigan runs into a part-human man who isn't too bothered by growing old—a stark contrast to people's claims that "fairies don't have bodies like people do." Moreover, the steward of the fairy-hills openly calls the Hunter "shit at ruling" and mostly puts up with him because he killed the previous king. The villagers as a whole would LIKE to help the future marks of the Fairy Raid, if the Hunter didn't threaten to murder them for insubordination. ALL of them.
  • Magic A Is Magic A / The Laws of Magic: Aside from real-life belief systems (Vodun, pagan/indigenous systems, and ancestor-worship), there's several basic types/rules of magic.
    • University or "normal" magic is taught in schools, and applicable to a range of subjects. There's a labeling system for spell ingredients, many people use basic household spells, and first-aid magic is taught to some.
    • Traditional magic is often linked to inborn abilities, and practitioners (medicine-men, Vodun practitioners, cunning-men) are on par with university graduates. Owen was taught by his grandfather Ogma.
    • Deities are quite powerful. The gods have a huge range of powers, but they do have some limits. The Folk can be nearly as powerful as deities, and are often far more unpredictable. Later on, Maidin says that even gods can't interfere too much with nature—and seeing as the Hunter is the Anthropomorphic Personification of hunting, this is a big problem for them.
    • Legal magic is up there with deity magic—since Alima needs a five-year citizenship wait, it's keeping the Irish gods from helping her unless she's in physical danger. Ned and the gods are frequently lamenting how the bureaucracy is endangering his family.
    • Magic's effectiveness depends on ties to the nation you're in, as Celeste mentions that American magic might not work in Ireland, and travelers are vulnerable to The Fair Folk. Artio the bear-goddess was forced to leave Ireland after the Ice Age when the bears died out, but she's been roaming Continental Europe and North America since then. Moreover, the slog with translating American-based magic to Irish magic has the American FBI bringing in Duyen Khuu and Jude Cedarberg to speed up finding Ned.
    • Magic Music is a heavy theme since many people sing bits of songs or simply hum notes to activate spells.
  • Magitek: Modern technology (like iPhones and laptops) coexists with magic.
  • Meaningful Name: Invoked culturally; being named after a god, saint, or hero "gives you their luck," according to Aine. Aine never drowns (the goddess Aine was a sea-god's wife), Brighid works at a vet clinic and a human hospital (the goddess Brighid is a healer), and Ogma is a snarky old man (the god Ogma is an aged Warrior Poet).
    • Ironic Nickname: Malachy is a normal Irish name, but his nickname is "Mal," which means "bad/evil" in most Romance languages. Mal is a nice guy who was Promoted to Parent for his little brother.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: Ned and Lucy Song disappeared for several months, and it turns out they were taken to Ireland in preparation for the Fairy Raid.
  • Motifs
    • The moon. Mal is reminded of a new-moon prayer when he first sees the white-clad Alima from a distance; the titular moonflowers are growing in Marian's garden; Wolfdog-Ned is named "Moony" (though it's later edited to "Bulan" in April 2021 to get rid of the Harry Potter references); Owen's scar is crescent-shaped. Finally, Mayari the moon-goddess arrives in the 29th chapter.
    • Home. Sacred Hospitality, the safety of the town walls, and Alima's vulnerability due to losing her old home.
    • Oak trees. Owen's visions are called oak dreams, he breathes acorn powder onto the Hunter's orange peel to turn it into a deer-skull, and the police officer treats Alima's Folk-blood burn with acorn lotion while waiting for the ambulance. Fitting since the oak is a potent symbol, especially in Celtic Mythology.
    • Hair. The Hunter cuts off some of Lucy's hair, which keeps her in the Otherworld. A homophobe chops Owen's long hair with a knife because he's restrained with a spell and can't actually hurt him, but that makes Owen go crazy because his head scar is now visible. His boyfriend Matthaeus is then told to make some jewelry with the hair. Maidin also remembers Owen from a past life because of his hair.
    • Exact Words. The Fair Folk, natch. No less than three countries' pantheons have been called in for help because the Irish pantheon can barely help Alima themselves. Mayari's arrival brings it to four countries.
  • Mr. Exposition: Maidin is constantly going off on tangents about things, thanks to being a Motor Mouth. Played With since everyone in-story just reminds him to get back on-topic.
  • Name Amnesia: The antagonist is the Horned Hunter of Celtic Mythology with no personal name; Maidin explains that he's a Force of Nature, and must discard it on taking the position.
    You give up your name to wear the mask. You become a Predator that hunts Prey. That is all you are from that point on, and that is all you will be until something kills you.
  • No Communities Were Harmed: Cloncarrig, Mary's Cape, and Red Road are fictional towns near the real-life village of Doolin.
  • No Need for Names: Maidin tells Lucy and Ned that The Fair Folk like names, but they don't need them like humans do. Plus, becoming a Force of Nature like the Horned Hunter requires giving up your name.
  • Nature Is Not Nice: It depends a lot on personality. Maidin, the talkative river-fairy? Good. Artio, the friendly bear-goddess? Also good. The Hunter, who takes his role as an embodiment of predators to excessive cruelty? Nope.
    • Maidin mentions that no matter how upsetting it is to let the Hunter kill seven innocent people in the Fairy Raid, the gods can't interfere too much because a) "it upsets the balance of nature," and b) the Hunter would gleefully go open-season on MORE people to "correct" said imbalance. He also notes that while a human COULD claim the Hunter's mask as leader of The Wild Hunt, humans are attached to their names, and that's a problem when you specifically need to GIVE IT UP for the position.
  • Nature Spirit: Maidin the river-spirit, Artio the bear-goddess, and the Horned Hunter.
  • Never Split the Party: Getting separated when chased by the Wild Hunt is very bad. Mal is adamant that he and Alima stay together while running from them; when Ned tells Ogma that he lost track of his wife, Ogma basically thinks she's dead. And then Alima is alone in a car with the Hunter disguised as Mal.
  • Oireland: Averted in general (being an urban-fantasy); while the story takes place near the scenic Cliffs of Moher and Cloncarrig is a tourist town whose population is under a thousand, it's still modern and the characters run the gamut of personalities. Poked fun at early on, when Alima jokes that she was surprised to find electricity outside of Dublin. On the darker side, the homophobia Owen faces is another thing that stereotypes don't address. It is present in the fact that author's image of Ireland seems to stem from the '70s and '80s and is a few decades out of date by the time of writing, presenting Ireland as more overtly bigoted and religiously conservative than it was circa 2014.
  • Oh, My Gods!: "Gods in the west" has been used by Owen and the police officer who found Alima on the freeway.
  • Older Is Better: Alluded to by a reporter: "Steel and titanium are not effective against the Folk." Also, Christians have no influence on the Fair Folk besides their own abilities/knowledge, but the pagan "old-walkers" do.
    • Finn MacCool and the Fianna use obsidian weapons when going into Westermark Howe to avoid having the Folk smell Cold Iron on them.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Thanks to his Blood Oath, Ned unintentionally becomes the only one who can kill the Hunter—meaning that other people, as the Fianna found out, can't kill him.
  • Our Gods Are Different:
  • Overly Long Name: Decker goes by her last name, since her full name is "Henrietta Marian Valerie Decker." Her parents had to name her after THREE of their deceased relatives, since all her cousins were boys.
  • Painting the Medium: Ned's speech is all in bold, presumably to reflect his curse; other spirits and animals have normal text. Deceased spirits also speak in bold.
  • Panthera Awesome: Mentioned when Noreen arrives for a follow-up on Dandelion and her newly-named son Pepper, as they found out Pepper is half cat-sidhe. The cat-sidhe are described as "black tigers" from Scotland, while the Kilkenny cats of Ireland are "lynx-lions."
  • Papa Wolf: Ned is the normal version of this, and he's also a literal wolf due to his curse. He wants to kill the Hunter for all the trouble he's caused to Ned's family, and swears an oath to do so.
  • Physical God: Quite a few, since the real-life religions are all known to exist.
  • Polar Opposite Twins: Qamar and Hilal Song. Qamar is outgoing and likes to hug people, while Hilal has a Green Thumb and is extremely quiet.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: The story as a whole can be seen as this, since an average civilian family has to rely on authorities, deities, and resourceful friends for help against The Fair Folk. And as the Folk are notoriously tricky to deal with, it's taken months to solve the Song family's tangled dilemma.
    • In "Can I get there by candlelight," Ned gets Curb Stomped trying to fight the Hunter because he's too angry to think straight, plus he's unwittingly separated himself and Alima from the group because Alima's too small to restrain such a large dog.
    • Calling the usually-helpful Fianna in the middle of a Stern Chase backfires—with the speeds they're going, the Fianna can't even find them until the car's basically demolished.
    • While Aine uses Alima's car to ram the Wild Hunt's horses, the Hunt still has the numbers to pound the car with magical arrows, which breaks the back window and a tail-light, injures Brighid, and punctures one of the tires. By the end of the chase, Alima's car is covered in horse blood and insanely dented. Aine's constantly apologizing to Alima before she uses the car as a weapon.
    • Brighid uses a soundproofing spell when the American agents Duyen and Jude come to help, because shooting guns in a car without some kind of ear protection would make them all go deaf. When she gets hit with elf-shot despite her inside-out sweater, she explains that a sweater can't physically stop an arrow.
    • Later on, Jude attempts to repair the car's magical wards with a spell that needs dried nettles, but Brighid only has nettle pills. He HOPES it'll work, but the ward is extremely weak and Brighid gets dragged out of the car anyway.
    • Mayari has a bitch of a time reaching Ireland, thanks to centuries of Catholicism in the Philippines. Lucy's family couldn't have asked her for help because they don't know her name.
    • Brighid Brennan reminisces to Owen that she wanted to be an old-walker when she was little, and thinks that she'd be more like Owen and wouldn't care if people know she's a lesbian. Owen gently reminds her that religions aren't hive-minds, so she'd be the same mild-mannered nurse who just believes in more gods.
    • Ogma O'Luain doesn't realize that the Fairy Raid is about to happen until it's almost on top of them, because it's been twenty-one years since Ireland last had to deal with it. And if Hades and Persephone hadn't mentioned they encountered the "freak in the deer-mask" seven years ago in Brittany, his memory wouldn't have gotten jogged.
    • Noreen mentions that the Folk's traditional weakness of Cold Iron clearly doesn't extend to "all instances of iron in the world," since they can intermarry with humans (who have iron in their blood), and eat foods with iron in them (such as meat, beans, and fish). The problem would be testing the EXTENT of the Folk's allergies, since it's hard to find volunteers.
  • Red Alert / This Is Not a Drill: When Ogma O'Luain realizes that the Fairy Raid is going to happen by the end of the month, he calls a town official about it. When Alima drives Mal home, they run into a huge gridlock since everyone's desperately going home. Ogma and Owen make a magical signal fire for the same purpose.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Mal and Alima in the twenty-second chapter.
  • Rule of Seven: The Fairy Raid. It happens every seven years on Samhain/Halloween, and there are seven mortals picked as "marks."
  • Rule of Scary: The Hunter wears a massive Irish Elk's skull whose antlers could fit a car between them, but suffers no neck strain. Justified since he's a fairy who deliberately scares the shit out of his victims.
  • Sacred Hospitality: Taking in a guest bestows magical protection on them. However, it has its limits; the Hunter is able to bypass it because "kindness is nothing to him."
    • Also works in reverse, as getting Alima her own place is very important in wearing down the Hunter's curse—she needs a physical tie to Ireland so the Irish gods can help her better.
  • Sapient House:
  • Secret-Keeper: Ogma and Lucy are the only two living humans who know that Ned is Alima's dog. Unfortunately, as stated above, they get Tongue-Tied due to his curse.
    • Maidin and Owen are Brighid Brennan's regular secret-keepers, since they both know she's a lesbian.
  • Shout-Out: Ogma suggests that Wolfdog-Ned gets named "Moony" after getting adopted by Alima. He was Tongue-Tied due to the Hunter's curse, since he was trying to tell her that the dog is her father, and Alima lampshades that it's the nickname of Remus Lupin the werewolf.
  • Shown Their Work: The author is an Irish pagan, so she'd be well-versed in Celtic Mythology.
    • Ogma O'Luain has a British accent instead of Irish, since he went to school in London; since his grandson is in his twenties, it's likely that Ogma was either forced to use a British accent by the school itself, or did it on his own to avoid bullying.
    • The Irish Elk's antlers were gargantuan—some skulls' racks are 12 feet wide, which is pretty damn close to a car's length.
    • The mortal Ogma is a beekeeper. The beehive weights are accurate, as are the different types of honey (aside from the magical Moher honey, which has no real-life equivalent).
    • It takes about five years to become a naturalized citizen of most countries, including Ireland. The Irish gods have a LOT of trouble helping Alima specifically, due to her "in-between" legal status.
    • The Folk use bronze and obsidian weapons since they can't use iron. It's theorized in real life that fairies are a folk-memory of Stone and Bronze Age cultures.
    • Speaking of Owen, he nearly got killed due to claims that he's a changeling. Technically, surviving (albeit with a giant scar and emotional trauma) means he got off EASY.
    • The stray cat Dandelion and her son get an extensive vet checkup, shots, and flea-baths since they've been living in the woods; plus, Dandelion has a bad leg. They also need a few months to put on enough weight for neutering and spaying, and Alima keeps them in the smaller room in case the intact tomcat starts spraying to mark territory.
  • Shrine to the Fallen: Ancestor-worship is fairly well-known. Alima has an altar in her room to leave offerings for her parents after they went missing, and Mal sometimes leaves offerings on his parents' graves. Becomes a plot point when Hades wonders why a young woman's presumably loving parents would completely ignore her offerings, and he finds out they're not dead.
  • Spoiler Opening: The album summary gives away the fact that Alima's dad isn't dead.
  • Stern Chase: In "Can I get there by candlelight," the Wild Hunt chases Alima's group.
  • Story Arc: Two main lines. Story A is in the mortal world, and deals with Alima picking up the pieces after her parents go missing. Story B is in the Otherworld, featuring Ned's struggle to 1) reunite with Lucy, and then 2) keep Alima from getting murdered on Samhain.
  • The Magic Comes Back: A cultural variant—with Mayari's arrival, Filipino magic is returning.
  • Tongue-Tied: Ogma knows that Alima's new dog is actually her father, but the curse forces him not to say it—either by locking his jaw to literally keep him from talking, or forcing him to say something else. Later on, Lucy's affected the same way.
    • Mal's deceased mother Carrie says that nobody living can help Alima, because the Hunter's too strong.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Not a secret, but Cloncarrig fits. It's a small tourist town by the Cliffs of Moher, but going too far outside of the walls is hazardous due to The Fair Folk, especially at night. They also tried to kill one of their own people out of homophobia.
  • Trauma Conga Line: The entire Song family. Alima's parents vanish and she goes mute for two weeks, Ned gets cursed and can't tell his own daughter that he's still alive, and Lucy is trapped in the Otherworld due to the Hunter possessing some of her hair.
    • Alima is also one of the victims in the Fairy Raid.
    • In flashbacks from Ned, Alima's Muslim aunt was killed shortly after the September 11 attacks.
    • The O'Luain family is very close-knit, so it can't be fun dealing with the constant and sometimes violent homophobia that Owen goes through.
  • Trapped in Villainy: The Hunter's subjects are NOT happy with his serial-killing, but if they try to help the Fairy Raid's victims against their king's orders, they're afraid he'll raze the whole village.
  • Uncanny Valley: Many spirits are described with noticeably off traits to mark their magical nature. The Horned Hunter Casts No Shadow and deliberately terrifies people with his massive deer-skull mask, while Maidin and Artio don't leave footprints—Maidin trails water everywhere, while Artio trails frost because it's winter. Artio also has very large bear-fangs in an otherwise human mouth. The Lady of Scales has long, claw-like nails, and Ned notes that her skin doesn't feel normal when he takes one of her hands.
  • Unreliable Narrator: The Hunter is constantly proven wrong about things; he makes a Breaking Speech to Mal about Irish beliefs NOT being the same as the modern Catholic forms, but we find out later that 1) Cloncarrig baptizes their children in Maidin's river, and 2) Maidin is the one who saved Owen ten years ago.
  • Urban Fantasy: Very firmly so.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Implied. The traditionally-minded town of Cloncarrig will harass Owen for his homosexuality and refuse to give him work, but once they give a flimsy excuse that he's a fairy changeling to the Knights of Aaron, they have no problem trying to kill him.
  • When She Smiles: Owen, Mal, and Alima don't smile very often.
  • White Wolves Are Special: Ned Song is a literal and figurative Papa Wolf, being one of the main protagonists.
  • Xanatos Gambit: The Hunter implicitly set up the entire story by kidnapping Alima's parents for months and getting Alima to move to Ireland out of grief.
  • Year Outside, Hour Inside: Folk-dominated areas of the Otherworld work like this. Ned and Lucy were brought there by the Hunter, and they think they were only missing for a week or two. Ogma tells Ned that's it's actually been three months since they vanished, and Alima thinks they're dead. This leads to minor Rapid Aging when they come back to the mortal world or the non-Folk areas of the Otherworld.