Ahoy there me mateys! This 2017 Newbery winner sounded awesome and has a lot of good things going for it. While the prose in this book was divine, a lot of the joy came from the narration by Christina Moore. I don’t know that I would have finished this if not for the audiobook. I have to admit that I liked the 2017 Newbery honor book wolf hollow a lot better structurally even though the writing wasn’t quite as lyrical.
The main issue is that this book was too long. I loved the first half despite its slow pace. However once the “build-up” for the end began, it had at least five potential endings and just kept going. The explanations for the world building and the characters’ actions also didn’t really make enough sense. I enjoyed that the adults made mistakes but the solution to the world’s problems was some woo woo waving of arms.
This was one of those books where it started out so strong and I was convinced I was looking at a new favourite . . . until main character’s enchantment ends. Then the rating kept getting chipped away because it felt so nonsensical.
The writing really was quite beautiful and I loved a lot of the imagery and characterization. I just feel this book could have benefited from some massive pruning and editing. A lot of the repetitive description could have been removed and streamlined. A cohesive whole is in there somewhere. So I can see the bones for a Newbery but I don’t believe it should have won. Arrrr!
Goodreads’ website has this to say about the novel:
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.
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