The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Girl Who Drank the Moon is told from multiple perspectives throughout the book. The omniscient quality of the narrator allows us to know the "secrets" right away--there isn't a whole lot to unravel. However there is still a question of how things will unfold and if the characters themselves will understand the truth and what that will mean for them--and if they'll figure it out in time.
Luna is our main character, sacrificed as the youngest baby in the Protectorate, and now being raised by Xan (a witch), Glerk (a swamp monster), and Fyrian (a tiny dragon, who is more of a sibling than a guardian). Every year Xan rescues a baby left in the bog and flies him or her to a town and a loving family. Only when she rescues Luna, she falls in love with her and accidently feeds her too much moon, enmagicking her. But Luna's magic is so intense that it becomes dangerous and Xan must encase the magic deep within her. And now, as she nears thirteen, Luna's magic is slowly returning.
During this time we also see both heroes and villains from the Protectorate as they try to make sense of all the terrible suffering that happens in their village. Over the course of thirteen years we witness the lives of the people of the Protectorate through Antain's eyes. Antain begins as an elder in training, but we can see right away that this won't go very well for him because he questions the decisions and traditions of the elders that lead to the misery surrounding his town.
One of the issues I had with The Girl Who Drank the Moon was the constant change of perspective. The omniscience meant that we knew a lot, but we knew a lot because we saw the same moments in time from different perspectives--and sometimes not just two. It made the story seem to stretch out instead of move forward. It also made it more difficult for me to really relate to Luna. We don't even really get anything from her perspective until we're a good ways into the book because it takes awhile for her to grow up.
And that's when the story really started. I felt like a lot of it was background building and it was long and arduous building. It could have been shorter.
I would only recommend this to middle grade readers who are already comfortable with fantasy books. I feel like even good readers who don't have much basis in fantasy might be thrown off by it. Overall, it was an okay book and once the story gets going, it's compelling--it just might take a while for that to kick in.
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