Fantasy · Young Adult

[Review] The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

I actually stumbled upon this book while loitering (reading books) at a downtown B&N. I was checking out another series but this cover caught my attention ASAP on my way out. Actually, I saw it every time I visited (for almost a month) and I knew I had to read it at some point (soon, hopefully, to sate my curiosity!). Of course, I never really got the chance to read it until just recently when it was in the Audible daily deal section (and I got it for $3). Best deal ever really


The Girl Who Drank the Moon is a story about a girl named Luna who was torn from her mother’s arms as a baby, left in the woods as a sacrifice for a witch (per village beliefs), and is then adopted by said witch after she’s been accidentally filled with magic from the moon. The reader gets to see her grow up until she’s 13 and we get some insight from the people she’s encountered in her life (whether she remembers them or not).

Just by looking at the cover, I knew I was going to like this book. It had this magical aspect to it and I LOVE magic (fantasy) reads. I was a bit worried about who the main character would be though. It’s not that I don’t like reading books where the protagonist is younger, but it is less relatable for me. But The Girl Who Drank the Moon surprised me!

Yes, the book was about Luna and we did get quite a bit of her POV, but it wasn’t just that. We had insight from a 500+ year-old witch who saved abandoned children from the woods, a woman who had been driven mad from being forcefully separated from her child “for the greater good” of the village, and a young boy who grows up with the guilt of having been part of said separation. There were also a couple other characters but I felt these three were our more important ones.

But what I loved the most about this book were the bonds between the characters, especially the parents to children.

For example, the witch Xan ends up becoming a Grandmother when she accidentally feeds Luna too much moonlight. Having filled her with magic, Xan knew it would be a difficult task to leave Luna with human parents and so she takes her as her own.

As Luna starts to grow up, Xan is placed in a tough situation. Luna can’t control her magic and (like all children) is hyper and imaginative. Her words hold power as she changes rivers into cupcake rivers, a swamp monster into a bunny, and trees into birds. The only solution seems to be locking away Luna’s magic until she’s grown up enough to use it responsibly, and so that’s what Xan does. The caveat being that Xan will die when Luna turns 13

A lot of the time, I feel like adopted parents get the bad end of the stick when children find out they were adopted. It could just be that I’m watching some really exaggerated dramas but I’ve always asked my mom the same thing, why do kids do 180s and suddenly hate their adopted parents? Like if they’d committed some crime? I think people that adopt children (and truly become parents) are quite amazing. They take on the responsibility of someone who they technically don’t have to.

And to see that Luna still loved Xan just as strongly as ever after finding out that she’d been adopted (and met her mother) was pretty amazing to me. I had wished there’d been more interaction between Xan and Luna once all the lies had been stripped away, but time wasn’t exactly on their side.

This whole ‘love for my child’ and ‘willing to die for them’ (or other such extreme) was a big thing in the book actually. We see it in the madwoman who never gives up on her stolen child. She’d been willing to damn her whole village if that meant keeping her, and when that proved to be fruitless she’d endured 13 years of solitude and sadness in hopes of being reunited.

We also saw it in a man who broke tradition and decided to confront the Witch. He was ready to kill her if necessary and if he couldn’t, he was willing to die trying.

Overall I really enjoyed this book and gave it a 4/5 on Goodreads. It reminded me of The Graveyard Book (Neil Gaiman) and Uprooted (Naomi Novik), except for the whole romance part. It read like a fairytale and I think that’s also another reason I really enjoyed it. Fairytales are one of my weaknesses (haha). I did get a bit confused about the Protectorate’s creation but that issue wasn’t delved into deeply so I left it alone.

Also, if you can get this as an audiobook, the narration is AMAZING

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