The Girl Who Drank the Moon is one of the most intricately detailed books I’ve read in a while, which surprised me to no end as it is marketed as a Middle Grade book. This fantasy/fiction was beautiful, and filled with fun characters. There is a swamp monster, a perfectly tiny dragon, several witches, and many different groups of people.
Surprisingly political, this book examines the common theme of darkness and light, with a slight twist. Barnhill focuses her villain around sorrow, and shows (in a very dramatic way) how sorrow worms its way into our brains and affects us. However, I felt in the end that the villains were overly simplified, and their humanity was not shown at all. I would have liked to have had them fleshed out more.
Barnhill really hammers her chosen themes into her story over and over. She describes each character in long poetic descriptions again and again, and while it didn’t bother me too much, it was something that I continued to notice and have my attention drawn towards. For example, “perfectly tiny dragon” is a phrase that was probably written upwards of 50 times. The theme of the “tiger” prowling was another common and initially interesting but gradually irritating descriptor.
The only other thing I didn’t like about this story was the pacing. The story has a very slow build, and Barnhill hops back and forth between many characters, sharing their history and perspectives. With all that’s going on, somehow the story still felt quite slow until the end.
I really enjoyed each of the characters’ perspectives, and loved that although this is marketed to a middle grade audience, it covered not only the middle graders’ perspective, but also that of elders, pregnant women, adult women and men, and fantasy characters. I feel it’s important to gain perspective on others’ experiences, particularly in middle grade, when children are really beginning to develop that empathy component. Hopefully stories like this can help them relate to a wider range of ages a bit better.
I felt like the story was very solid with an extensive history tied in. I love when fantasy books have a huge history that shows its importance in the plot. Barnhill did an excellent job of creating a sense of adventure and giving many of the characters these deep set historical values that they felt obligated to fulfill.
And of course I loved how loving our main cast of characters were. Their hope and joy towards there family is a beautiful thing. I love their weird little family.