Spoiler-Free Review: Luna Howls at the Moon by Kristin O'Donnell Tubb



    Luna Howls At The Moon by Kristin O'Donnell Tubb is a standalone middle-grade novel following Luna, a labrador therapy dog, who just wants to help her child clients. The children are brought together for a group therapy session, but one day, one of the kids goes missing. Luna and the other children go on a wild quest in search of the missing boy and each of the kids undergo some self-discovery along the way.

      Thank you to Netgalley and Harper Audio for an early audiobook ARC copy of this book! Before diving into my review, please note that it is based on my unbiased opinion of the book. As you consider my thoughts, remember that you are allowed to have different feelings about this book. If you haven't read it yet, feel free to pick up a copy and form your own opinion on it. 

Content Warnings: Animal Death, Blood, Toxic relationships, Death, Grief, Emotional Abuse.

Note: This book contains some sensitive topics, please proceed with caution.



    Luna Howls At the Moon was a really unique and adorable middle-grade story. I don't usually love reading books that have animals as main characters but it somehow seemed to work in this story. There is definitely not enough mental health and aneurotypical representation in fiction books as it is, so I definitely appreciated this aspect of the novel even though I didn't absolutely love how it was executed. 

    This story was definitely a character-based story that focused largely on the characters' internal and external struggles. I really appreciated the internal struggle that Luna faces throughout the novel between her duty as a therapy dog in training and joining the children on their adventure, in order to protect them. Luna is an extremely loyal dog and the children definitely did not appreciate, or at points, even acknowledge her presence at the beginning of the story. It was understandable why they would ignore Luna, but that didn't help me from feeling bad for her. 

    Learning about each of the children's backstories and trauma throughout the book really helped me develop empathy for previously unlikeable and slightly irritating characters. It is pretty clear that I was not the target audience for this story and this book could definitely help younger readers especially as they try to navigate complex emotions for the first time, just like the young characters in this story.

    The synthetic voice used for this audiobook did not detract from my enjoyment or appreciation of the novel. This is the second netgalley audiobook ARC I have read that uses this type of synthetic voice and while it is a little odd at first, I quickly got used to the vocal sounds. I just wanted to point out that the synthetic tones used for this audiobook are not representative of the actual audiobook listening experience. The final audiobook will have a narrator performing the book creating a better listening experience.

    Overall, I think this is a great book for younger readers who fit the target middle age category. However, I don't think it is either important or that useful to older readers. The book definitely has its issues with the way that the parents handle their children's emotional trauma and the children were unlikeable (which was to be expected) but also aggravating at points. The main character, Luna, the labrador, really shines in this book. This is a great starting point for younger readers who are first navigating the world of complex emotions and I definitely appreciated the inclusion of a therapy dog. While the mental health representation wasn't amazing in this book, it definitely opens the conversation to breaking the stigma surrounding therapy dogs. Thanks to this book, it has given me an interest in learning more about service and therapy dogs in fiction and in real life.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Author: Kristin O'Donnell Tubb

Genre: Middle Grade, Adventure


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