The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill has been getting a lot of attention lately. It was one that I had debated about reading, and passed up the first chance I had (it’s unfair for the children’s librarian to check out all the new books). But when I had finished my stack, The Girl Who Drank was in, so I grabbed it and ran.
Well, at least I checked it out and walked quickly. There’s no running in the library.
Every year in the Protectorate, there is a Day of Sacrifice where the youngest baby is left in the woods for the witch. In this way, the citizens of the Protectorate ensure their continued survival. They don’t like it, but they are not strong enough to fight the witch.
Every year, the witch Xan waits in the forest to rescue the poor baby that the people of the Protectorate abandon. She can’t believe their callous behavior, but she takes the baby to the cities on the other side of the wood and places the baby with a family who will love them and protect them. Along the way, she feeds the baby starlight.
Then one year, she accidentally feeds the baby moonlight. Everyone knows that the moon is magic. Xan cannot possibly leave an enmagicked baby with non-magical people, so she names her Luna and raises the baby herself. Helping her is the tiny Simply Enormous Dragon Fyrian and the swamp monster Glerk. That’s all well and good, but sorrow hangs like a fog over the Protectorate, and some people there determine that the witch who is stealing their children must die.
I enjoyed the book more than I expected to. It was a little slow in spots, but the language was lovely, and I adored the Simply Enormous Dragon. I felt that the plot was actually fairly complicated, and in some ways it reminded me of A Swiftly Tilting Planet, and the works of Patricia McKillip. There are many characters to love here, and difficult choices they need to make. I would put this into the hands of more mature fantasy lovers.