Book Review: The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill (5/5)

Image result for the girl who drank the moon

Published: 2016

Genre: YA Fantasy

You know that lingering sense of doubt when you pick up a book and read the blurbs on the cover? This book had blubs like, “Impossible to put down,” “Enchanting,” and my favorite, “Utterly spellbinding.”

Well, in this case, every single one of those is true. The Girl Who Drank the Moon is full of that heart-warming whimsy, character-driven plot, and underlying themes of love and friendship that I love.

This book is about a village that sacrifices a baby each year to a witch that lives in the woods. Unbeknownst to them, the witch in the woods takes the baby that she believes has been left to die, and brings it across the forest to a family that will take care of it. But that system starts to break down when the witch accidently enmagicks one of the babies.

The plot unfolds from several POV characters; Luna; Xan, the witch; Glerk, the Bog Monster; and Antain, the young man. I’ve criticized the multiple POV thing before, but it works in this book. Each character adds a different layer of emotion and circumstance to the plot as it unfolds. The first half is told primarily from Antain and Xan, but as Luna grows older her POV becomes more prevalent.

This book is a good example of how to write from an adult’s POV in a young adult novel. These adults are thinking like adults, but those thoughts are being translating into words that a young adult would understand. It’s not about them; it’s about Luna, the village, and things that I don’t want to say because it would ruin the ending. The style of this book is also whimsical and fun. It doesn’t bog the reader down with exposition and overly flowery prose; no, Barnhill gives the reader just what they need as they need it in simple terms.

The plot kept me reading. I started this book Monday, and it’s Thursday; I read the bulk Tuesday night. When I can’t put the book down, I know it’s a good story. When I can’t put it down until the very last page; that is an excellent book. I’ve stop just before the end of several good books simply because I stopped caring. No, I needed to know how/what/when things turned out in this book.

The characters were well-constructed, and as the blubs said, enchanting. This book has a bit of magic in it, I suspect, because I’m left with this tingly feeling all over. Anyone who’s a fan of fantasy should give this book a read. (Unless you hate the YA market, then I’d skip this one.)

There is something about the YA market that calls to me. Maybe it is the popular coming-of-age theme, the underdog saving the day, or maybe it is the vibrant emotions. Adult books tend to feel more like the author trying to startle and shock the reader, rather than enchant and transport and enmagick them.

I gave The Girl Who Drank the Moon a 5/5 because it scored all my points: believable, interesting characters; enticing, quick-moving plot; timeless themes of love, hope, and memories; and excellent, well-written delivery.

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