The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Every year, on the Day of Sacrifice, the village of Protectorate takes the youngest baby and delivers him/her to the witch as a sacrifice to protect their village. It is a terrible thing to do, but that is what the witch demands as payment of her protection.
And each year, the parents of the baby girl or boy sadly hand over their bundle of joy and know that they will no longer be with the living because the witch is going to kill the baby. Except for the one mother, who would not hand over her child. She was yelling, screaming, hanging from the rafters of her house, and even bit her husband when he tried to take the baby.
But the Elders of the town eventually got the baby girl, and the mother went mad. She went so mad, she was locked in the tower with the Sisters of the Star until she was well.
The kicker though? All of this is a lie. The witch is not evil, and she does not eat the babies. In fact, one day, long, long ago - almost 500 years - she found a screaming baby outside of a town that was so full of sorrow and she took the baby with her on her travels, feeding it starlight to keep it nourished. Then, when she got to another town, she found a great home for that baby, parents and siblings who loved it so much the first time they met it.
And every year after that, the witch will find another baby on the same day, in the same place, and she will travel to another town to do her medicine routines and find another home for the baby that year. All of the towns celebrated the day that the witch came with a new baby, because they were celebrating another life being added to their lives.
As for the baby whose mother fought for her? The witch, Xan, was going through the same yearly routine. But she made a mistake. Instead of feeding the baby starlight, she fed the girl moonlight, which gave her magically powers. This isn't normal magic either, but magic that is seeped into her bones and thoughts and her very being.
Xan knew she made a mistake, but she also knew that no normal human could take care of such a baby with an enormous power. So Xan decided to name her Luna and keep her as her granddaughter to train her on how to use her magic.
With the help of the Swamp Monster, Glerk, and a Tiny, but Simply Enormous Dragon, Fyrian, Xan raises Luna. Not by training her to use magic, because of a terrible side effect of a spell, but they raise Luna to be a sweet girl of 13.
But when Luna gets closer to the age of 13, the more her magic is about to burst out of her.
And other big events are about to happen at the same time:
- a father is not willing to give up his son for the Day of Sacrifice - he is going to kill the witch instead
- the real witch of the story is about to see what happens when she up against a lot of love between a mother and her daughter
- the volcano is going to erupt after 500 years of being dormant
And much, much more.
Luna needs to figure out all of the lies that she has been told throughout the years, and figure it out fast to save all of the ones she loves the most.
I decided to read this book because I was making a list for work of the winners for the Newbery Awards for Children. The cover really caught my attention, and when I read the synopsis, I was snared and had to find a copy.
And this book definitely deserves the award! I so enjoyed the story and even though there were a lot of viewpoints going on throughout the novel, it was a very quick read that had an amazing moral and message.
I could only image what a 5 year old hooked on magic would be like. I know how a normal 5 year old acts, so having one with magic just makes me shudder. I don't blame Xan for what she did, because Luna would have been a terror if she continued the way she did.
I loved all of the side characters from the forest, to the village of Protectorate, and to the people of the other towns. There was a lot of information crammed into this book, but it was told in a way that didn't make the reader too overwhelmed.
I'm very glad that I decided to read this book, and it will definitely be a book that I recommend to other book lovers, no matter what age they are :)
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