Book Review: The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill

When it comes to book recommendations, I always take them with a grain of salt. What might be magical and wonderful for one, might be lame and boring for another. So, when someone recommended The Girl Who Drank The Moon, I was hesitatingly hopeful.

And, it was wonderful. Sweet, yet profound. Childlike, yet complex. After the year I’ve had, my heart wasn’t quite prepared for it.

The Story

There is a witch in the woods and she demands a sacrifice of a baby every year or bad things will happen. Or, at least that’s what the people living in the Protectorate have been led to believe. They are only half right. There is a witch in the woods, but she is the embodiement of love and selflessness. Every year she collects these abandoned babies to prevent them from a more gruesome fate and every year she feeds them starlight until they shine before she finds them loving families on the other side of the forest.

Then, one day, she feeds one of these babies moonlight which gives them incredible magic. Xan, the witch, can’t stand the thought of giving this particular baby away and instead chooses to raise the baby as its grandmother. Back in the protectorate, the mother of this child is so grief stricken that she goes quite mad and is taken into the Tower to be tended to by the benevolent sisters. She has magic as well, although in her mental state can’t quite understand what it is or what she can do with it.

Meanwhile, there is a boy, Antain, who is destined to be a part of the Council of Elders in the Protectorate, except he really would rather not. He was there the day that the child was taken. He watched the mother as she climbed into the rafters to keep her baby safe only to have it stolen from her anyway. The sight haunted him so much that when he grew older, he feels compelled to visit with the mother, if only to make sure she’s being well cared for. What Antain doesn’t know, is that there are darker forces at work that feed on the sorrow of the protectorate and it is those forces that demand the sacrifice.

As the child, Luna, grows, it’s clear that she has too much magic and too little understanding to use it safely. Xan is forced to lock the magic away until Luna turns thirteen and is old enough to learn how to use her magic for good. This comes with a terrible consequence, Xan starts to fade away and her own magic begins to dry up.

The story sweeps into a climax when Luna approaches her thirteenth year at the same time that Antain and his wife realize that their own child will be the one sacrificed to the witch. Antain vows to kill the witch, none other than the kind Xan, to save his child. The mad woman, also drawn to her child’s magic, escapes the tower to go find her. None of them are prepared to face the real villain, the one who has kept the Protectorate in sorrow, who is coming right on their heels.

My Review

I know I’ve said this before, but I adore a story with lovely language. The Girl who Drank the Moon uses language in a way that’s both poetic yet simple enough to be accessible to all readers. The story itself is the same, while there are multiple story lines to follow, there’s never any question about what’s going on and why. Each point of view character has their own unique voice, and it’s very clear what the stakes are.

What I loved the most was that since the reader understands what’s happening so well, when all the pieces start falling together, there is a huge emotional rollercoaster of worrying about what might happen and how hard it will be for all the characters involved. When you can get behind a story enough that you start worrying for the characters, that’s when you know that you are well and truly immersed.

My Recommendations

For those of you who light a lighter fantasy with lots (I mean lots!) of heart and just a slight hint of dystopia, The Girl Who Drank the Moon is a great choice. There is no offensive language or any inkling of intimate situations, and while there is some peril, there aren’t depictions of violence. I’d recommend it for all readers ages 12 and up, and also younger readers who are okay with keeping track of multiple storylines.

I rate this book 5/5 stars for being lovely, well balanced, and made me feel all the feels.


Thank you for joining me as I reviewed The Girl Who Drank The Moon today on the blog. If you enjoyed reading this review and would like to see more, please consider connecting with me by either following the blog here on WordPress, liking my Facebook page, or subscribing to my newsletter. As an added bonus, newsletter subscribers receive free books, stories, and special offers every week.

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