Book Review: “The Girl Who Drank the Moon” by Kelly Barnhill

IMG_7264.JPG5 out of 5 stars

I was recently at my favorite local independent bookstore and I was browsing their favorite books. I came across the book “The Girl Who Drank the Moon” and was a little worried because there have been books in the section that sounded amazing and I just couldn’t get through. I decided to roll the dice and try this one and I am so glad I did.

As I have aged, I have really started loving the fantasy genre. This was not something I really took to as a kid, but the stories available to kids these days are amazing and fantastical and this is one that I have been telling all of my friends to get for their kids – especially their girls, but boys will love it too. There are dragons and witches and bog monsters and heroes – all of the components you need to create an amazing piece of fantasy!

The story takes place in a land that was created by the bog, a poet and a monster. There are several cities in the area, but one in particular is isolated and called the “Protectorate”. There is only one road in and out and it is controlled by the Elders making travel anywhere very difficult. A forest surrounds the road and the town and the people have passed along many stories making everyone very fearful of what lurks inside, so they stay in their town. They don’t really know anything about the towns or areas outside of where they live.

But more than anything there is great fear of a witch that lives in the forest and it is believed by the town that if the youngest baby in the village is left (sacrificed) for the witch every year, she will leave the town in peace. They believe the witch eats these babies. It turns out the witch has no idea why these poor babies are being left in the forest and she always goes and picks them up and then takes them to the “Free Cities” to look for wonderful and loving homes for these children – they are called the “Star Children”. Before she is able to find homes for the children she feeds them from the stars, except for once. A little baby was left in the forest and the witch wasn’t watching what she was doing closely. The moon was especially big that night and as the witch watched the stars dancing in the baby’s eyes she accidentally fed her moon light. This changes the course of both of their futures. The witch calls the baby Luna and Luna is so full of magic that there is no way the witch can leave her with a family. She takes her into her little family and becomes her “Grandmama”.

There are additional story lines about a boy who becomes a man called Antain who doesn’t feel right about leaving babies in the forest and has to cope with that trauma, a madwoman in the tower who is coping with the loss of a child and Luna having a spell put on her to squash the magic in her until she turns 13, at which time she will regain her skills.

The book is beautifully written and full of magic. The words on the page are as lovely as they come and the whole book is just full of love. I adore the story lines and how everything comes together. There is always a sense of suspense or danger, yet love wins – just like in real life. I think kids 9 and up will do well with the story. There are a few places where a different narrator is speaking and that might get a little confusing for less experienced readers. The words are all recognizable and the chapters are on the shorter side making it ideal for younger kids. There is nothing gruesome or violent about the story either and the suspense is pretty low key but keeps the reader engaged and enthralled.

I highly recommend this book!

One of our favorite podcasts (which I will be reviewing soon) just talked about this book with 3 kids and there is an interview with the author as well. Check it out here!

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