FANTASTIC FRIDAY: The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
ABOUT THE BOOK
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 was a bit reluctant to read this book for a couple of reasons. One, I've heard so many good things about it that I didn't want to be disappointed. Second, the story seemed kind of weird. But I ended up loving it. The character development is fabulous, and not just surrounding the main character Luna. Antain, the young man who wants to protect his family, Xan, the witch who adopts Luna, and the madwoman, all play important parts in the story and get their fair share of attention. Barnhill's books are known, at least in my mind, for being unusual and unique. This book definitely lives up to that standard. I did find the mother telling her child stories at the beginning and several other occasions throughout the book rather intriguing. It reinforced the myths that the people living in the Protectorate had been lead to believe. I think what I found most impressive was the intricate plotting that eventually led the main characters to each other and the answers they were seeking. I knew going in that at least some of the various characters would meet up, what was fascinating was the way it happened. And the way that magic was woven into the story and the various characters lives, especially Luna's and Xans's.
In addition to just being a great story, the themes running through the book are very thought-provoking, at least for me. The themes of kindness versus power and control, along with themes about growing up and making decisions, and then the most impressive theme of all, living with the consequences of the choices we make. All of these themes make this a book well worth reading and discussing. And after all of that, there is the volcano, the element in the story that none of the characters can control. This is a book that is well worth all the praise it has been given. Barnhill has outdone herself with this one.