Winner of the 2017 Newberry Medal, The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill is a must read for any fans of fairy tales and fantasy. Barnhill weaves together pieces of many genres, creating a story reminiscent of classic fairy tales, yet at the same time all its own. The many elements this story explores are difficult to adequately explain, but let it suffice to say that at its heart, The Girl Who Drank the Moon is a story about the power of love and family (both born and chosen) and illustrates the very best that fairy tale and fantasy storytelling has to offer.
Every year in the Protectorate, a small village at the furthest edge of a great forest, a child is taken from its family and abandoned in the woods as a sacrifice to appease the witch. However, the witch, Xan, is actually quite kind and takes the babies only to save their lives, feeding them starlight as she carries them across the forest to cities where they are taken in by loving families, having no idea that the people of the Protectorate fear her so. As our story begins, Xan has rescued another baby, but accidentally feeds the child moonlight, imbuing her with magic. Xan decides to raise the child, who she names Luna, and takes her home. There Xan, the ancient swamp monster Glerk, and the Perfectly Tiny Dragon Fyrian care for and raise Luna. As she grows and her magic begins to manifest, Xan realizes she must lock Luna’s magic away until her thirteenth birthday, so she can learn to control it.
From this point, the plot shifts and weaves, drawing in many characters and threads, as this important birthday nears. Characters will find their courage, reveal and keep secrets, search for those lost, and try to rescue those they love. All of these plotlines are expertly woven together and culminate in a symphonic ending that will linger with the reader long after the final page. A truly magical and enrapturing story that will make everyone believe in magic, at least for a little while. Suggested for ages 10 and up.