Friday, August 12, 2016

ARC Review: The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

Title: The Girl Who Drank the Moon
Written by: Kelly Barnhill
Published: August 9, 2016 by Algonquin Young Readers
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the forest, Xan, is kind and gentle. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster named Glerk and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, Fyrian. Xan rescues the abandoned children and deliver them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey. 

One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. Xan decides she must raise this enmagicked girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. To keep young Luna safe from her own unwieldy power, Xan locks her magic deep inside her. When Luna approaches her thirteenth birthday, her magic begins to emerge on schedule--but Xan is far away. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch. Soon, it is up to Luna to protect those who have protected her--even if it means the end of the loving, safe world she’s always known. 

The acclaimed author of The Witch’s Boy has created another epic coming-of-age fairy tale destined to become a modern classic

*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher on Netgalley. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***

This was really fantastic. I don't read a lot of Middle Grade but I came across this one and it sounded interesting so I thought, why not. And I'm really glad I took a chance because it was a great read.

One of the things I really loved about this book was the plot development. I was not expecting something quite so intricately plotted but this totally was. It is the kind of book where it seemed like there was a lot going on and I couldn't possibly all be connected and it was. It all really built to a big reveal that I absolutely loved. Plus there was actually a subtle and interesting mystery that I wasn't expecting. But when all the puzzle pieces of that mystery fell into place I was so surprised and totally enthralled. I'm such a plot-driven reader and the thing I liked the most about this one is how well-plotted this was. I was really pleasantly surprised by that and I don't know why.

 I will say, though, that I didn't love the narrative style. Don't get me wrong, Kelly Barnhill's writing was gorgeous, it was lyrical and pulled you into the story. However, there is a lot of perspectives in the story. It would bounce around from chapter to chapter between characters and even sometimes switch during the same chapter. It was sometimes hard to keep track of whose story it was and then we would catch back up with a character after awhile and I would forget all about what they had been up to. I think this is a book that would have benefited from a bit narrower focus. But in the end it did all come together.

 But one thing I liked about this book was the world and atmosphere of the book. It had a very magical realism feel to it. It's one of those books that has a history and story to the world that is pulled to the narrative. And here all of that was expertly crafted to make a story that felt familiar and creative. Not to mention that witch books have really been working now for me lately and this was another one that I really enjoyed. But in general, this was one of those atmospheric reads that pulls you in with questions and curiosity and the world helped to establish that.

The other thing that helped with that is the characters. They are an interesting and quirky cart of characters here. I already mentioned that there is a lot of point of views here so you get to be in the head of a lot of different ones. There are however two main characters, Luna and Antain. They were both really likable and interesting. I definitely liked Luna. She is your typical middle grade narrator who is kind of figuring out the world as she learns and explores. It was great seeing here do just that throughout the book.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable read that I liked a lot more than I thought I would. It's an intricately plotted book with great characters and an atmospheric world that I would definitely recommend. 

I give The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill 8.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy/Borrow. This was a good read. One I enjoyed more than I expected to. It's beautifully written and intricately plotted and I absolutely recommend it. If you like middle grade and/or magical realism then check this book out.

Have you Read The Girl Who Drank the Moon? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!


  1. I have been really interested in this book, but middle grade is so hit or miss for me! I'm glad to hear this one was so beautifully written! I do have a bit of trouble with alternating POVs though. Thanks for the great review! I may have to check this one out after all :D

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds

    1. Thanks Tracy! I hope you like it. MG is hot or miss for me too but this one was hit. I think sometimes the books are just too emotional or too silly. This walks a good line between those two for me.