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The Girl Who Drank the Moon Hardcover – August 9, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—Once a year in the Protectorate there is a Day of Sacrifice. The youngest baby is taken by the Elders and left in the forest to die, thus appeasing the witch who threatens to destroy the village if not obeyed. Unbeknownst to the people, Xan, the witch of the forest, is kind and compassionate. When she discovers the first baby left as a sacrifice, she has no idea why it has been abandoned. She rescues the infants, feeds each one starlight, and delivers the shining infants to parents in the Outside Cities who love and care for them. On one occasion, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight along with starlight, filling her with glowing magic. Xan is smitten with the beautiful baby girl, who has a crescent moon birthmark on her forehead, and chooses to raise her as her own child. Twists and turns emerge as the identity of the true evil witch becomes apparent. The swiftly paced, highly imaginative plot draws a myriad of threads together to form a web of characters, magic, and integrated lives. Spiritual overtones encompass much of the storytelling with love as the glue that holds it all together. VERDICT An expertly woven and enchanting offering for readers who love classic fairy tales.—D. Maria LaRocco, Cuyahoga Public Library, Strongsville, OH
A New York Times Bestseller
A New York Public Library Best Book of 2016
A Chicago Public Library Best Book of 2016
“Impossible to put down . . . The Girl Who Drank the Moon is as exciting and layered as classics like Peter Pan or TheWizard of Oz.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“A gorgeously written fantasy about a girl who becomes “enmagicked” after the witch who saves her from death feeds her moonlight.”
“[Barnhill’s] next middle grade sensation.”
“With compelling, beautiful prose, Kelly Barnhill spins the enchanting tale of a kindly witch who accidentally gives a normal baby magic powers, then decides to raise her as her own.”
—EW.com, The Best Middle-Grade Books of 2016
« “Guaranteed to enchant, enthrall, and enmagick . . . Replete with traditional motifs, this nontraditional fairy tale boasts sinister and endearing characters, magical elements, strong storytelling, and unleashed forces.”
—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
« “Rich with multiple plotlines that culminate in a suspenseful climax, characters of inspiring integrity, a world with elements of both whimsy and treachery, and prose that melds into poetry. A sure bet for anyone who enjoys a truly fantastic story.”
—Booklist, starred review
« “An expertly woven and enchanting offering.”
—School Library Journal, starred review
« “Barnhill crafts another captivating fantasy, this time in the vein of Into the Woods . . . Barnhill delivers an escalating plot filled with foreshadowing, well-developed characters, and a fully realized setting, all highlighting her lyrical storytelling.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
« “Barnhill writes with gentle elegance, conveying a deeply emotional and heartrending tale with accessible, fluid prose. Characters are skillfully developed: the heroes are flawed, the villains are humanized, and they are forgiven for sins they may or may have not intended. The swamp monster and dragon provide plenty of moments of humor to leaven the pathos, while the setting is infused with fairy tale elements, both magical and menacing, and given a tragic history. Fans of Barnhill’s The Witch’s Boy and Iron Hearted Violet will find similar intersections of love, loss, and identity here.”
—Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, starred review
« “The Girl Who Drank the Moon takes a probing look at social complexity and the high cost of secrets and lies, weaving multiple perspectives, past and present, into one cleverly unfolding fairy tale. Barnhill crafts wonderfully imperfect characters with poetic prose, warmth and wit. The resiliency of the heroes may be partly because of magic, but also because of critical thinking, empathy, deep love and the strength of family in all its unconventional manifestations. Thoughtful and utterly spellbinding.”
—Shelf Awareness for Readers, starred review
“Heart-stopping and heart-rending . . . Good and evil square off in this highly original fantasy that satisfies in time-honored ways . . . Poetic turns of phrase, intriguing subplots and fast pacing yield a rich mix of suspense, surprise and social commentary, splendidly exploring ‘memory, hope, love, and the weight of human emotion.’”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“Magic, witches, moonlight, starlight, a baby dragon and baby sacrifice swirl together in this spell-binding high fantasy.”
—San Francisco Chronicle (Holiday Roundup)
“If your kids have already read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and they can’t get enough of Neil Gaiman, they’re going to love Kelly Barnhill’s new fantasy, The Girl Who Drank the Moon.”
—St. Paul Pioneer Press
“The Girl Who Drank the Moon is a story of love, curiosity and the magic of the everyday world . . . this is a novel about the journey, not the destination — one filled with wisdom and heart.”
—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Magic, witch-lore, an evil Council of Elders, a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, twists and turns and an utterly fantastical world—this book keeps you hooked!”
—Kim Childress, book editor of Girls’ Life
“An involving—and often wondrously strange—adventure. Though aimed at middle grade readers, this has plenty of marvels and tongue-in-cheek moments to keep older readers entertained as well.”
“Infused with unique forms of magic. Philosophy and plots intertwine, woven together with bejeweled language and themes of love, secrets, power, belonging and family.”
“A fresh take on fantasy.”
—Iowa City Press-Citizen
“This story of a girl who gains magical powers after a witch saves her life by ‘feeding her moonlight’ has drawn comparisons to The Wizard of Oz and Peter Pan.”
—New York Post
“There’s much to love about this fast-paced story. The characters are charming, good and evil battle it out in scenes that keep the pages turning as the story builds to its climax, and the real witches come out of the woodwork. There are plenty of surprises as the author wends her way to a conclusion, leaving not a single stone unturned. Children, and adults too, will be “enmagicked” by this addictive tale.”
“A delightful read, especially for upper elementary and middle schoolers who love traditional fantasy.”
—Providence Journal (Providence, RI)
“Refreshing, magical, oftentimes comical, and full of adventure and heart, The Girl Who Drank the Moon soars off the pages. Readers will be fascinated in a spell that will sing to them and wrap them up in a finely woven tapestry of fantasy and magic. Few storytellers have the gift of so deftly arranging a fantasy or building a world so magical that readers want to live there, but Kelly Barnhill is the best at her craft. If you loved The Witch’s Boy, you will love The Girl Who Drank the Moon even more . . . An instant classic, a book that today's children will read someday to their children. Highly, highly recommended. I would recommend this book over all others this year. It is honestly the best book I’ve read in years.”
—El Paso Times
“Kelly Barnhill is an artist, weaving a tightly-developed world from prose that reads like poetry. The Girl Who Drank the Moon is high fantasy at its finest and belongs on the same shelf with legendary tales like The Once and Future King, The Hobbit, Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising Sequence, and Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain.”
—Nerdy Book Club
“The Girl Who Drank the Moon is pure magic . . . Barnhill weaves together poetic prose—along with a few actual poems—well-developed characters, a perfectly escalating plot, and a beautiful message to create the extraordinary tapestry of this nontraditional fairy tale that will engage readers of any age.”
—Barnes & Noble Kids Blog
“This entrancing novel is full of beautiful detail with a very well-crafted plot line and exquisitely developed characters. Light and dark magic combine to weave a complex, twisting vine of a tale.”
“From pure hearted characters to beautifully detailed backdrops, everything about this story is truly mystical . . . The Girl Who Drank the Moon is an unforgettable story that is so beautifully written it must have taken magic to write it.”
—YM2 (Young Mensan BookParade e-zine)
“It is the strong element of emotional entanglement between parents and children that sets this book apart from the bursting shelves of middle grade fantasy. Barnhill does an excellent job of reminding us that, while sorrow can be a dangerous and overwhelming force, love is an even greater magic.”
“Just lovely—a worthy precursor to authors like Gaiman and LeGuin. Barnhill has a knack for telling a complex story in deceptively simple, lyrical fairy tale language, and the way she teases the individual threads of this story together—the brave boy, the magical girl, the witch’s forgotten history, the mad mother—is brilliant. The characters—minor and major—live and breathe; the world of the story feels sturdy enough to stand on its own . . . go ahead and add The Girl Who Drank the Moon to your reading list.”
—home |school | life magazine
“This fantasy book about the unexpected power of magic, love and sorrow is told with beautiful prose and some humor . . .”
—Free Lance-Star (Ferdericksburg, MD)
“Get lost in the magic of a middle grade read with The Girl Who Drank the Moon. Beautifully written and poetic, this is a tale that defines magic and love in a whole new light . . . Kelly Barnhill has a magical way of bringing a story and moral to light, while delicately dealing with deep issues. Perfectly suited for young readers, this book is also entertaining for an older reading audience.”
—Independent Voice (Dixon, CA)
“A page turner for all ages. A rich cast of characters that includes a highly intelligent swamp monster, a tiny dragon, and a child imbued with powerful magic form the heart of this enchanting middle grade novel from Barnhill, who weaves an engrossing plot involving family, truth, and sacrifice.”
—Tullahoma News(Tullahoma, TN)
“The Girl Who Drank the Moon is a marvelous children’s story about fear, secrets, and the power of love . . . a wonderful book that older children and teens should enjoy reading.”
—Portland Book Review
“Sure to delight readers of other fairy tale-style stories like Neil Gaiman’s Stardust with its deliberate mixture of allusions, satire, and playfulness.”
—Midwest Book Review
“This novel is as magical as the magic that threatens to burst from Luna. There is no way to escape its touch as you dream through the pages. It has everything a good story needs – a mystery that is not figured out by the reader until the very end; several unlikely heroes, as well as an unconventional family; so much love mixed with so much pain and sorrow; and magic so unbelievable, it becomes as believable as the age of its painter. Read this book.”
—Geeks of Doom
“A fantasy set around Luna, a girl whose magic begins to emerge on her thirteenth birthday, set in a rich fantasy world.”
—Asheville Citizen-Times (Asheville, NC)
“A misunderstood witch, a poetry-spouting swamp monster, a tiny dragon with a simply enormous heart, a girl fed from moonlight and a town filled with tragic sadness all come together in this brilliant new novel from the author of Witch’s Boy. Fans of Maile Meloy, Alice Hoffman and Shannon Hale will devour this sad, funny, charming, clever stand-alone fantasy adventure.”
—Angie Tally of The Country Bookshop for Pinestraw Magazine (Southern Pines, NC)
“A spellbinding book that will keep you at the edge of your seat . . . Not only does the story show compassion and hope, it shows unconditional love . . . Look for this book to become a classic . . .”
—Young Voices of New York
“A modern fable about a witch named Xan, who accidentally gives a baby moonlight instead of starlight, and the child, Luna, who grows up to be magical and dangerous. Factor in a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, a swamp monster, a not-so dormant volcano, and a mysterious woman with a tiger’s heart and, well, you’ve got something truly magical.”
—NW Book Lovers
“Barnhill’s impeccable writing makes for effortless reading, while she spins her plot with perfect pacing. Packed within the story are some tremendously thought-provoking themes which elevate this quite beyond an ordinary fantasy and make it a superb choice for a middle-grade-and-older book club.”
Top customer reviews
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A hundred stars.
I LOVED this story. I loved everything about it. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone, from children to adults. I don't usually reread books, but I know I will return to this story again and again.
This story had everything you could want in a GREAT fairytale.
The characters in this story were multifaceted and endearing. The storyline was well thought out with a satisfying conclusion. I wouldn't change anything in this story. As an avid reader, I have only encountered this in a tiny handful of books. Such a rare treat to read! There were plenty of plot twists and turns. A thread of dark mystery was carefully woven into the story. And yet, there is love, so much love in this book as well. Not the sappy artificial love seen in romance novels, but the love of family and friends.
This book would make a fabulous gift, especially to Harry Potter fans. This book has a similar feel to it. In fact, I think I liked it even better, and that's saying a LOT. So many emotions in this book! Warm and fuzzy with a hint of sadness but uplifting too! Grownups will NOT feel like they are reading a children's story, and yet I would feel comfortable reading this book to a young child. Again, a rare story to be sure. I will seek out more books by this author.
Y’all, I LOVE ADORE AM CRAZY for this middle-grade book! The Girl Who Drank the Moon is utterly astonishing and gorgeous in every way. Kelly Barnhill is a word wizard and weaves a spellbinding, lush, lyrical story that will enchant and enrapture readers of all ages.
Barnhill’s words are pure, sparkly magic and her storytelling is simply lovely. With rich, stunning prose that flows effortlessly and beautifully, and a pitch-perfect fantasy voice, I greedily drank in every delicious drop of The Girl Who Drank the Moon. Barnhill does a superb job of mixing together all things fantastical, quirky, whimsical, and adventurous, to create a tale that feels wonderfully classic and timeless, yet excitingly new and innovative. Young readers will be enthralled by the thrilling magical elements, intrigued by the complex setting, and charmed by the irresistible characters.
The Girl Who Drank the Moon is inhabited by some of the most unforgettable middle-grade characters that I’ve met in a long time. Barnhill carefully crafts each of her characters with depth, thoughtfulness, and moonlight I’m sure! From heartfelt Xan to fierce, capable, vulnerable Luna, sweet Fyrian, lovable Glerk, wise Antain, and a few awesomely wicked antagonists, these characters captivate and delight!
My final thoughts: I couldn’t put The Girl Who Drank the Moon down and loved every awe-inspiring, tear inducing, gasp-worthy, and goosebump making moment of it! This is one of those extraordinary and beautiful stories that magic their way deep into your heart.
What I can tell you is that my daughter is 8, and I can't see her either benefiting from or wanting to read this book/have it read to her for at least another two years.
The main action of this story happens when a girl is twelve/thirteen, when most girls physically change into adults. This book is for those girls, and absolutely should be read by every one of them.
The book is interwoven with rising tension throughout the story. A sensitive young girl is likely to be too worried about what will happen to actually want to read it. In the end there is no physical violence, but emotional tension runs very high. By the time the confrontations happen you (the adult reader) are begging for them to happen. Begging for all the problems laid out to be resolved, but the young reader? Heck, my daughter freaked out the first time Moana went into the ocean (and only then). Like "The Witch's Boy" (by same author) there are disturbing scenes--here especially early in the book. On an emotional level, fairly devastating. There are also things that she might just not be ready to understand until that age. For example the two main heroines are wrapped up in a pattern of lying to each other--for all the best reasons. As an adult I understand and learned from this. But for an 8 year old? Heck, it is probably too subtle for a normal 10 year old.
You should notice I have pitched this almost absolutely for young girls. Not to say that boys won't like it--exciting story it be--but it is absolutely for that target audience. Get it for your son as well; he'll understand a lot more about women when he's done with it.
Adult readers? You should all read it. Now.
It is a pitch perfect classic.
It has similarities to the author's last book, The Witch's Boy, so if you liked that and are looking for more of the same, you're all but guaranteed to love this one. It's got the magic, the gorgeous writing, the mysterious haunted forest, the quest, the witches, and the children coming into their power.
If, on the other hand, you liked the writing and the world of The Witch's Boy, but hated the ending, then definitely give this book a try. The world is similar, the mood is similar, the writing is every bit as lovely, but this book gets the ending right. Satisfying, beautiful, and filled with magic both literally and figuratively, I would love to see more where this came from!