Review: The Girl Who Drank the Moon
Updated: Aug 22
The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill (2016)
This is written in the style of a classic fairy tale, complete with magical beings, enchantments, and witches - both good and bad ones.
It begins in a place called The Protectorate, which resembles the districts of the Hunger Games. The common people are kept sad and low, while the priests and sisters enjoy a life of excess. And each year, one child is chosen for sacrifice. In this case, it is always a baby, who is taken from the parents, and marched to a clearing in the woods. The priests leave the baby there as a sacrifice to "the witch." No one has ever seen her, but the people of the Protectorate have been convinced that without this sacrifice, she would come to the town and - do what exactly, no one knows for sure, but it would definitely be bad!
There IS a witch who comes to take the babies. Her name is Xan, and she is kind and loving. She's never understood why families abandon their babies in the forest, but she takes them to the "Free Cities" on the other side of the dense forest, and gives them to happy couples. On the journey, she feeds them starlight, and so in the Free Cities they are called star children, and they live healthy and blessed lives.
Xan lives in a swampy area with a monster named Glerk, and a very small dragon (fits in a pocket!) named Fyrian, who is convinced he simply enormous (and therefore Xan and Glerk must be giants).
One year, while traveling with a new baby back to her home, she accidentally feeds the baby moonlight instead of starlight - and as everyone knows, moonlight is a much stronger magic. The little girl, who she names Luna, is thus "enmagicked." Xan knows that she will have extreme magical powers, so she decides to keep her and raise her as a granddaughter. When Luna's power proves to be too much to handle, Xan locks it away inside the young girl, to be unlocked on her 13th birthday.
It all goes awry when Xan is away from home, Luna's magic begins to emerge early, and three people from the Protectorate enter the forest - a young man with a vow to kill the witch who is "stealing" their babies, a woman looking for her the daughter, and an old woman intent on keep the Protectorate submissive.
It's a charming and lovely story - mostly about what it means to be a family, set against the backdrop of a magical world that doesn't always know it's own power or history.
UP NEXT: Genuine Fraud, by E. Lockhart