Review: The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

The Girl Who Drank the Moon
Kelly Barnhill
Algonquin Young Readers
Published on August 9, 2016

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

About The Girl Who Drank the Moon
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 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 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.

My Review
This. Book. Is. Amazing. Seriously. If you haven’t read it, please do! I loved the characters from the Swamp Monster to the village boy who grows up and vows to kill the witch and end the child sacrifices. The creepy assassin sisterhood gave me chills. The love between Luna and Xan and the Mad Woman made me cry. Fyrian made me laugh.

The story world completely engrossed me. It’s rich and clever and weaves around the characters, connecting them in surprising ways. It’s the kind of story that feels like a chess game—where you don’t see the real tension of it until the big pieces move into place for that final check mate. But every chapter along the way is filled with great moments, mystery, and foreshadowing.

Two friends recommended The Girl Who Drank the Moon to me and still it took me way too long to read it. It’s a great book to read aloud, and one of those rare books that any age could read and enjoy. This is likely to remain one of my favorites for a long time. Perfect for fans of Jessica Day George.

The Girl Who Drank the Moon on AmazonRecommended for Ages 8 up.

Cultural Elements
(As the cover suggests) Luna is described as having black hair and brown skin.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
None. There are a couple references to swearing. In one instance, for example, a character says, “I don’t give a rat’s—” and is interrupted by another character who chastises him for his language.

Romance/Sexual Content
A young man and woman get married (not shown). Later, she has a baby.

Spiritual Content
Contains magic and mythical creatures (dragons, a swamp monster, a creation story involving the bog and the swamp monster). The villagers believe a witch demands a yearly sacrifice of the youngest child, so they leave the baby in the woods for her. There are rumors that she eats the children or uses them for slave labor (She doesn’t.). In the story, starlight and moonlight contain magic which can be collected and distributed. One witch converts others’ sorrow to power for herself.

Violent Content
Some references to cruelty toward children. This shows up in the rumors about the witch in the woods but also in Xan’s vague memories of her childhood.

Drug Content
None.The Girl Who Drank the Moon on Goodreads

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About Kasey Giard

Kasey is a mother, reader and aspiring author. When she's not reading or writing, you might find her out on the water fly fishing, pretending she can keep houseplants alive, or talking with the family rescue cat.

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