The Girl Who Drank the Moon is a fantasy novel that feels like a folktale. There is a town surrounded by dangerous woods and giant bog. It is ruled by the Protectorate, a group of elder men and [the sisterhood]. Antain is a boy apprentice to the Protectorate. The townspeople are full of sorrow because every year, the youngest child must be taken into the woods and left as an offering to the witch so that she does not wreak havoc on the town. Antain witnesses the latest mother goes mad with sadness even though they are supposed to remain stoic. She is locked in a dungeon tower by the sisterhood to be cared for. Antain asks the Protectorate why they don’t wait in the woods to see if the witch picks the baby up. Afterall, if a wild animal gets to the baby first, the witch might come for them and they would never know. The Protectorate do not like Antain and his questions.

Meanwhile, Xan, the “witch in the woods” is a real witch, but not a mean one. She wonders why every year this crazy town leaves a baby to die in the woods and she rescues the baby and adopts it out to the outer towns who welcome these star children. Xan feeds each baby starlight (that has some magic in it) and the kids grow up to be wonderful and kind people.

One night, Xan rescues Luna, the (now) madwoman’s baby. She accidentally feeds Luna moonlight instead of starlight, which is dangerous because it has too much magic. Picture the terrible twos but with a magical child. Xan decides to raise this baby that she is taken with herself so that the magic does not harm the baby or anyone else and tries to teach Luna how to use it. It doesn’t go well.

All this time Antain is asking more and more questions and starts a family of his own. He has the youngest baby in the village and the sacrificial day is approaching. He decides he will end his own and the town’s grief and sorrow by going into the woods and killing the witch, even though he’d usually never hurt a fly.

All of the parallel stories start to rush towards each other and collide in an even more suspenseful climax as the characters come together and try to piece together the truth before people die. This is mostly an issue-oriented book about truth, power and control that makes use of symbols and figurative language beautifully and rhythmically while also feeling character-driven and being very action packed. It’s a book with something for everyone. The intricate plot, myriad of loveable and hateable characters, and their inner struggles will propel you into the world of volcanoes, bogs, evil forests and magic.

Listening to the audio of this book is even better because the different voices are fantastic and you really get the feel for the lyrical rhythm of the story and the moods of the characters. The evil ones feel more sinister, the happy-go-lucky characters seem more naïve, and the intensifying climax moves faster and faster. (grades 4+)