This week Marshmallow reviews The Girl Who Drank the Moon, the 2016 novel by Kelly Barnhill that won the 2017 Newberry Medal. Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions.
Sprinkles: This looks like an interesting book Marshmallow. Can you tell us a bit about it?
Marshmallow: This book is about a girl named Luna and a witch named Xan. Luna comes from a village that sacrifices one baby per year. The baby is left in the woods, supposedly to be taken by an evil witch who lives in the woods. But it turns out that the witch is actually Xan, and she is very kind-hearted. She travels every year to pick up the sacrificed baby, and takes it to a loving family in a different village. The children brought by Xan are called Star Children in that village because Xan feeds them starlight before their journey through the forest.
However, one year, Xan accidentally feeds one of the children moonlight. Moonlight is more powerful than starlight and it enmagicks her. In other words, she ends up with extraordinary magical powers. Xan decides to name her Luna and raise her as her own.
S: That is a very interesting premise. And I can see why the book is titled The Girl Who Drank the Moon. I’m guessing that is Luna. So does Luna know any of this?
M: Not really. Not for a long time. And she cannot hear the word “magic”.
S: That is weird. So the book is about Luna and Xan and their adventures?
M: No. Not quite. There are multiple stories that are going on at the same time. There is a guy who is determined to kill Xan for example, but he is a good person, he just wants to protect his own child. And eventually we see Luna’s real mom show up. Lots of things are happening at the same time, and Luna is trying to figure out how to use her magic.
S: Hmm, that sounds intriguing. I might want to read it too some day.
M: Yes, I think you should. It is about family, love, and who becomes your family. Luna’s family is made up of a dragon and a bog monster besides the witch Xan, and eventually she is reunited with her birth mom too. And there is a surprising twist towards the end, but I am not going to spoil things.
S: Hmm, I guess I will just have to read the book to find out for myself.
S: So apparently there was a prequel published right around the time the book came out. What did you think of that?
M: I thought it was interesting to get some backstory on one of the characters. We should probably put links to them in our review.
S: Okay, here is the link to the first part of the prequel, and here is the second part. We should warn our readers that there are lots of popups and ads on the linked pages but the story seems to be worth it.
M: I’d say so.
S: Did this book remind you of any other books you have read or reviewed before?
M: No, I think it was quite unique. I’d say it is really a beautiful story.
S: What you did tell me so far reminded me of a couple of the stories in Soman Chaimani’s Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales. Or even the beginning of the School for Good and Evil stories. There, too, children are taken to save their villages.
M: Yes, I can see what you mean. And I do love the School for Good and Evil books. But I view this book as something quite different.
S: Okay, it is a book of its own, deserves its own place among your favorites?
M: I’d say so. I will definitely reread it at least once more.
S: So then would you be rating it 100%?
S: And that is a good place to wrap up this review then. I might just grab the book and start reading it right away.
M: You do that! And our readers, they should stay tuned for more amazing reviews from the book bunnies!
5 thoughts on “Marshmallow reviews The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill”
Hmm, interesting story premise. It shouldn’t go unsaid that Luna is the Spanish word for “moon”. Coincidence?
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We think it is probably why Xan names her Luna.
This is indeed an unusual story. Poor Xan gets a bad reputation, even though she is very kind hearted.
I wonder how the villagers go about selecting the sacrificial baby?
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Marshmallow says it is the youngest child when the time comes.