The Girl Who Drank The Moon by Kelly Barnhill
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 in fact a good witch who shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon. Xan rescues the children and delivers 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 girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. As Luna’s thirteenth birthday approaches, her magic begins to emerge – with dangerous consequences. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch. Deadly birds with uncertain intentions flock nearby. A volcano, quiet for centuries, rumbles just beneath the earth’s surface. And the woman with the Tiger’s heart is on the prowl . . .
Sweet, complex and gentle, with some savage undertones!
I admit to feeling a bit frustrated by this book. It’s billed as a children’s story, and it is; the harder themes (loss of a parent/child, loyalty, coming into your self & powers, standing up to authority and wrong) are all needed and all done very well. However, I found myself wishing the book was written in a more adult style; wishing that we could have more depth on many of the characters and their situation, and reading the same book but in a way that didn’t make me feel I needed a ten-year-old sitting next to me to read to. Which, I admit, sounds like I didn’t enjoy the book – I did! – and that the writing style wasn’t a good read – and it was! – but…
A good book. An enjoyable book. One that brings up needed themes and has some suitably horrible villains and some wonderful characters and some interesting situations, scenarios and morals. It’s delightful and fun and interesting. But it’s a book that actually, I felt I wasn’t the right person – or the right age – to be reading.