Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

Summary from Goodreads:
Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the forest, Xan, is kind and gentle. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster named Glerk and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, Fyrian. Xan rescues the abandoned children and deliver them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey.

One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. Xan decides she must raise this enmagicked girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. To keep young Luna safe from her own unwieldy power, Xan locks her magic deep inside her. When Luna approaches her thirteenth birthday, her magic begins to emerge on schedule--but Xan is far away. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch. Soon, it is up to Luna to protect those who have protected her--even if it means the end of the loving, safe world she’s always known.

The acclaimed author of The Witch’s Boy has created another epic coming-of-age fairy tale destined to become a modern classic.
I have to admit I read this one after I learned it won the Newbery. I wanted to see what book beat Wolf Hollow, one of my favorite books of the year (which did get the Newbery Honor). I went into thinking there was no way this middle grade fairy tale could compare with some of the other amazing middle grade books I had read this past year. I was mistaken. The book was wonderful.
Above all else, there’s the beautiful writing. The book was lyrical at times. From the wise witch to the swamp monster, quoting poetry, the words in here were all thought out and well put. This is an author that values language and the beauty of it.
This book didn’t win me over right away either. To be honest, for a middle grade book, it’s strange that most of the plot was focused on the wise, grandmother witch, and not the child. I kept waiting for it to be more about the girl. And then when it was, I wanted to go back to the witch’s story. The story went back and forth between the witch and her odd family (the enmagicked girl, the poetic swamp monster, and a mini dragon that thinks he’s living among giants because he can’t admit he’s miniature) and the town that kept giving up babies.
The town believed they had to give up the youngest baby each year because a witch demanded it to keep peace. Xan thinks the town is insane and that she’s rescuing the children from some weird deadly sacrifice in the woods in each year. Finally, all the characters learn what’s really happening after much death, fighting, adventures, magic, journeys, and sorrow. And it all starts to unravel the day Luna is left in the woods, and Xan picks her up.
I love the fairy tale nature of it all. It sounds like a dark fairy tale written hundreds of years ago. It’s hard to fathom someone making this all up now. I loved the dragon and the swamp monster. The characters, even the evil ones, were fabulous. The world was believable and sad. I never imagined what trouble a toddler with magic could cause. Good thing, Hogwarts letters didn’t arrive until kids were 11.
I loved the focus on family. Family doesn’t have to be blood. And there was so much love in Xan and Luna’s family. I couldn’t believe how much Xan was giving up for Luna willingly. There were so many times I wanted Luna to know things. But, it all came together at the right moment, and I’m glad it did.
I can see why this won the Newbery. Truly, it’s a beautiful book. I’m glad it will get more attention now. I recommend it highly to fantasy and fairytale fans. I give it a 10/10.

1 comment:

  1. Oh GREAT review Nori^^ I got an ARC of this one but I still haven't gotten around to it! Seeing how much it won you over is all the motivation I need :D