My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Received: Thomas Allen & Son
Publication Date: August 9th, 2016
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Point of View: 3rd Person & Alternative
Recommended Age: 9+
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Magic, Adventure, Family, Animals
Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the forest, Xan, is kind and gentle. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster named Glerk and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, Fyrian. Xan rescues the abandoned children and deliver them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey.
One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. Xan decides she must raise this enmagicked girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. To keep young Luna safe from her own unwieldy power, Xan locks her magic deep inside her. When Luna approaches her thirteenth birthday, her magic begins to emerge on schedule–but Xan is far away. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch. Soon, it is up to Luna to protect those who have protected her–even if it means the end of the loving, safe world she’s always known.
This is the story of a little baby girl sent to die but who is adopted by a good witch instead. Without meaning to, the Witch pours magic into Luna but, instead of letting her draw from her magic, she bounds it until Luna’s thirteenth birthday.
Incidentally, that is the day the Witch decides to let herself die. But that day is coming and coming, closer and closer, and the Witch starts to regret her decision.
There obviously is more happening in the story than only that. In fact, we have points of view specific to a variety of characters and even two dragons! But summarizing would take too much space, when what I really want to do is praise this book for its magnificent content.
Oh, what a magical writing style. It’s so lyrical, so memorable, so sense-awakening. Definitely suited for a middle grade novel, while being interesting and original enough to hold even an adult’s attention or someone who is not entirely into books for kids. We need voices in literature that have their own different style, and Kelly Barnhill is a refreshing one.
There is a lovely fairytale-esque atmosphere in the story that made me want to read this aloud to children in my community. Any book that provokes this reaction is worth a good hand of applause! This book also made me feel astoundingly empathic to the Witch, whom is such a caring, misjudged creature. Oh, oh, I must not forget to mention that the little dragon Fyrian is exactly like… Well, you remember Mulan’s quirky, hilarious dragon companion? Yeah, that’s Fyrian alright.
In a perfect world, every kid would have read this enchanting story.
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