Review: The Girl Who Drank The Moon by Kelly Barnhill

What the book is about: 

In the Protectorate, the Day of Sacrifice has arrived and Antain, Elder-in-Training, and his uncle, the Grand Elder of the Protectorate, are on their way to take the youngest child in the village to offer to the Witch that lives in the woods.

The Girl Who Drank The Moon is the story of Luna, a infant rescued by the witch, Xan, and accidentally fed moonlight instead of starlight, which enmagicks Luna. Xan then raises Luna as her grandchild, along with Glerk the Bog Monster and Fyrian, the Simply Enormous Dragon who fits into Luna’s pocket, attempting to teach her about life and magic, but as Luna grows, so does her magic and by the time she’s five, Xan is spending most of her days undoing all the magic Luna does. Finally, Xan comes up with a plan to help them both, but her plan has unintended consequences.

Meanwhile, Antain is tormented by his participation in the Day of Sacrifice and feigns various illnesses in order to avoid every subsequent Day, while failing in other ways in his Elder Training. Sister Ignatia, the head sister of the Protectorate, never seems to age and is sugar sweet to some and utterly terrible to others, but no matter how much she tries, she can’t get through to Ethyne, who is inquisitive and joyful no matter what goes on. Luna’s mother is locked up in the tower and over the years, the Sisters begin to discover paper birds in the room. Every morning, they clean out the room, but by the next morning, it is full of paper birds once again.

As all good stories do, every seemingly unrelated storyline eventually comes together, revealing the connection between Xan and Sister Ignatia, the magic inside Luna and her mother, the importance of Glerk, and the growth of Fyrian in more ways than one.

This book is simply a delight to read. I had a very hard time putting it down once I started reading and found the ending to be utterly satisfying.


What I liked: 

  • The various subplots in the story – there were some fascinating subplots that wove expertly around before finally coming together in the final chapters and pages of the book.
  • Character development – the characters are brilliantly conceived and created – each with strengths and faults, feeling like whole characters and not just caricatures.
  • Mix of light and dark – there are some heavy themes in the book, but for each heavy theme, there is an equally light and bright theme that continues to weave hope through the book.
  • Showing consequences of decisions – each major decision’s consequences played out through the book, including the consequence of choosing not to acknowledge one’s role in what is going on.

What I didn’t like: 

  • The ease with which the bad guys were foiled. Of course this is a children’s book, so there are certain limitations on how bad the bad guys can be and how hard they are to defeat, but it would have been nice to see a little more tension and back and forth between good and evil before the final conclusion.


Things authors could incorporate into their own writing: 

  • Thoughtful and believable characters – Kelly Barnhill does an excellent job of fully developing each character so that they remain believable throughout. Everyone’s decisions fall in line with their character, but there is room for growth in the characters as well.
  • Subplots – each subplot complements the main plot line and her ability to weave it all together before the end is delightful.

Overall thoughts and opinions:

At first, I wasn’t sure how much I would like the book because it is a book for a younger audience, but it was an absolutely delightful and quick read. The chapter titles are clever and the story continues to move forward. At no point did I feel the plot drag or slow down or find sections I wanted to skim through to get back to the action. Every character had significance and stayed within their characterization and realm.

I was a little sad when the story ended because I enjoyed it so much. I found myself totally immersed in the story and in the characters, enjoying each chapter and the character switches. I feel like I have so many good things to say about the book, but I don’t want to give away too much.

I most certainly give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

5 star rating

Find more about The Girl Who Drank the Moon and Kelly Barnhill.


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