Finding Luna from The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
“Knowledge is power, but it is a terrible power when it is hoarded and hidden.”
The Girl Who Drank the Moon is a 2016 children’s novel penned by Kelly Barnhill. With themes of oppression, allegiance and challenges, the NY Best-selling author and Newbery Medal laureate spins the fantastical story of Luna.
Luna, once an abandoned child, is mistakenly enmagicked by feeding moonlight along with starlight by a good-hearted witch who had saved Luna in the forest when she was a baby. This leads the witch to keep the baby with her with the sole goal of teaching Luna the right usage of magic in the future.
As the story progresses, Luna struggles to recover some of the most important parts of her life: her memories, her mother and of course, her magic. With the poignant lessons of love, greed, power, family and sorrow, Kelly Barnhill spuns a captivating light-hearted yet deeply meaningful novel for children.
“A story can tell the truth...but a story can also lie. Stories can bend and twist and obfuscate. Controlling stories is power indeed.”
Written from an ominous third-person narrative, the story unfolds with a child being told that every year the people of Protectorate give up an infant to the evil witch residing in the forest lest it maintains the truce. However, the people of the gloomy town of Protectorate do not know that the witch residing in the forest is a kind-hearted soul who does not devour the infants.
Instead, she, Xan, feeds those children starlight to appease their hungry bellies and sends them away to welcoming families on the other side of the forest. However, one year, she discovers that the abandoned child she has rescued has been accidentally enmagicked by Xan who fed her moonlight instead of starlight while being engrossed in the baby’s deep eyes and crescent-moon birthmark.
Thus, Xan vows to raise the baby on her own and calls her Luna. She locks Luna’s magic and Xan takes Luna to her home (that she shares with a Swamp Monster (Glerk) and a Dragon (Fyrian)). They all lovingly raise Luna.
“Death is always sudden," Glerk said. His eyes had begun to itch. "Even when it isn't.”
Within the quagmire bundle of memories, Luna struggles to find her own remnants while the magic lock keeps her power from surging, that is, until she turns thirteen. And, when she does, Xan will die.
What the people of Protectorate do not realize is that they are being tricked by Elder Gherland, Head of the Council of Elders which is a ruling body of Protectorate, into believing that there is a witch in the forest. It is done in order to keep the townsmen at their mercy and keep their feudal superiority intact.
Antain, Gherland’s kind-hearted and curious nephew, discovers that a mother refuses to give up her child for the Day of Sacrifice. He feels guilty after seeing the deranged state of the mother when her baby is taken away and left in the forest. He decides to find a way to put an end to all this.
Soon, Luna approaches her thirteenth birthday and her powers find their full potential. But along with her emerging power, Luna’s head hurts with the snippets of memories that slip from their muddled bundles now and then.
Antain who could neither stop the Elder and nor help the deranged mother (who is actually a witch and knows her daughter is alive) had left the council. He becomes a woodworker and later on, marries Ethyne. But trouble ensues as their newborn baby is slated for next year’s sacrifice.
“Everything you see is in the process of making or unmaking or dying or living. Everything is in a state of change.”
The deranged mother (witch) uses several paper birds to map out the dangerous forest and lunges forth to search for her long-lost daughter. Antain happens to find a paper bird along with the map and also rushes forth to find the ‘evil’ witch (Xan) to stop the killings.
However, in the whirlwind of events where Antain wounds Xan, the madwoman is attacked and followed by sister Ignatia (an accomplice of Elder) and Luna’s search for Xan due to her concern over Xan’s health, it is revealed that a volcanic eruption awaits.
With lies that have been spun for decades, a truth that is about to be revealed and several lives at stake, we still have Luna who is yet to face her true self. In the farago of hidden truths and evil conspiracy, will Luna rise to power and fulfill Xan’s expectations?
Will she make the townsmen suffer the same fate that the Elder had done?
Or, maybe even worse?
Read on to find out what path Luna had chosen!
Comments on The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill:
The well-constructed story is applaudable for its intelligent pace and character development. The fairytale setting with the right amount of villainous parts add to its endearing plot.
Actually, the plotline is capable of enrapturing not only children but adults too. Its themes revolve around love, family, the sorrow of separation and how greed for power can be disastrous. It takes a clear stand that when one is given power, one should not turn oppressive.
As an underlying current, the novel also lays emphasis on how important one’s true identity is and why one should accept it wholeheartedly. Touching deep themes with light flickers, it could be for many one of the most underrated novels!
Therefore dumplings, before the stocks run out, pack it in!
~ Quick question! What would have you done if you were in Luna’s place?
- Meghna Chatterjee
To read more article written by Meghna Chatterjee - CLICK HERE
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