I am quite sure I found a review of this book on the CBR site, and it sounded like a lovely warm book to read in what has been a challenging few weeks. It’s a Newberry Award winning young adult book, filled with emotion and magic and love.
The book began much like a traditional Brothers Grimm fairytale; a village needs to leave it’s youngest child in the forest on a certain day every year, an offering to an evil witch so that she leaves the village alone for the remainder of the year. The villagers generally don’t seem to protest much about this, living under a literal and figurative cloud for much of the year. The book quickly turns the story around, however, as the witch is not evil after all, but puzzled about why the Protectorate annually abandons an infant in the woods. She takes these abandoned children and gives them to families on the other side of the forest, feeding these children starlight, delivering these Star Children healthy and glorious to loving families. One particular girl charms the witch Xan, and Xan accidentally feeds her moonlight instead of starlight, enmagicking the baby. The enmagicked girl, Luna, then needs to stay with Xan and her dear friends, a tiny dragon and a giant swamp monster. Things only get more complicated from there, with mysteries to be solved and a quest to be completed and love to be found. It is a lovely fantasy story, but it seemed like much more than that to me.
One of the central elements of the story is that the Protectorate’s people are filled with fear and grief that keeps them from their curiosity and from wanting more. Xan and her family, however, have missing memories and put sincere effort into avoiding or forgetting their sorrows. Only those few people who haven’t forgotten or grown numb can really be catalysts for change, and all of them are primarily motivated by love. It is fascinating, making me think of both my own mental health and those of people who have been affected by modern culture and politics.
There are plenty of interesting characters here, each of them with a distinct voice and and clear motivation. The story is well thought out, fast to read, and filled with fun details and little bits of humour. It is a very much about love of all types, as well as generosity and altruism and courage. The Girl Who Drank the Moon is a wonderful book, and I cannot recommend it enough.
CBR10 Bingo category: Award Winner