Book: The Girl Who Drank the Moon
Author: Kelly Barnhill
This is the story of a town, a cursed town. On its outskirts lies a greater forest. In this forest lives a wicked old witch. The witch demands sacrifice and so each year an infant is taken away by the town elders and left in the forest for her. As a result, a fog of sorrow hangs over the town with the townsfolk in a constant state of mourning.
On one such occasion, an infant girl is left in the forest and the witch comes by to pick her up. As it turns out she isn’t a wicked witch at all. She wonders why the townsfolk leave their infants in the forest every year. But she’s a kind-hearted soul and cannot bear to leave them to die. So she takes them away and gives them up to loving homes in faraway cities.
She picks up this little girl too feeding her starlight to keep her full. As the moon shows up big and bright, she ends up, entirely by mistake, feeding the girl some bits of moonlight too. And that’s dangerous because it enmagicks the baby.
So what happens then? How does the witch handle this magical little Luna? Also, is there a wicked witch at all? Who perpetuated the legend? And why? Do the villagers ever find out the truth?
Thoughts on The Girl Who Drank The Moon
Here’s a thoroughly delightful, enchanting little book for the young and the young at heart, filled with wonder and love and fantasy and lots and lots of magi
The characters are loveable
There’s Luna the young and zesty protagonist, Xan the kind-hearted witch, Glerk the poetic bog beast and Fyrian the singing mini dragon. Simply delightful.
The tale is magically told
And that’s not just because it has a lot of magic in it, which it does. The telling is poetic, lyrical. But that doesn’t in any way slow it down or take away from its pace. It’s magical realism at it’s best.
The writing is evocative
Flowers blooming where Luna steps even while she remains unaware of it; the thrum of magic that runs through her body, the silver-blue shimmer of her magic, the glittery green of Xan’s; the deserted remains of the burnt down city, the brooding simmering volcano — the story is full of beautiful descriptions that made me feel like I was watching a film in my head as I read along.
The deeper lessons
The book can lead to wonderful conversations making it ideal for a children’s book club.
The evil witch feeding on the people’s sorrow reminded me of the dementors from Harry Potter.
There’s more – the idea of questioning traditions, specially if they’re cruel and painful, of standing up to evil, of hope and happiness as the ultimate weapons against tyranny. All those themes need to be explored.
A word of caution for the young ones
It’s a long read at almost 400 pages. That said, if she/he had read and loved Harry Potter this bit of caution can be totally disregarded.
The sorrow can be overwhelming
The first half of the book makes for a heavy read. The gloom and the despair that hangs over the town, the hopelessness of it, might just pull them down.
The magic gets abstruse
The magical realism got quite fantastical in places and that might confuse a young reader. It is a fantasy novel, of course, so magic is inevitable but there’s believable magic and then there are esoteric bits that become difficult to understand.
On second thought — perhaps younger readers might just accept it for what it is and enjoy it more than I did as an adult. I remain undecided on this one.
But, one thing I’m sure of – don’t let any of it stop you from reaching out for this one.
Last thought: A wonderful read for young people of all ages.