Monday, April 24, 2017

Book Review: The Girl Who Drank the Moon

I wanted to love this book. I really did. The cover is gorgeous, the idea is intriguing. and the endorsements are full of powerfully positive words ("spellbinding," "captivating," and "imaginative"). It is a New York Times bestseller and a Newbery winner. The Amazon page is full to the brim with accolades. I just can't bring myself to join the throngs.

I know there are friends of mine who would rave about The Girl Who Drank the Moon. People who love fairy tales, readers who enjoy fantastical stories, and lovers of magic will all be enthralled with it. I could imagine myself reading the book to an eager little girl (granddaughter perhaps, because I'm done in that department). But, the story never fully engaged me or pulled me in. Despite liking the portrayal of the little girl, I really struggled to care what happened to her because the story rambled and drifted aimlessly.

Living in the Protectorate sounds like it would be safe and cozy, doesn't it? But the whole idea of the Protectorate is held up by an annual sacrifice to the Witch in the dangerous forest around them. They hope that by offering up the youngest member, they will appease the thirst of the Witch. Thus, the story begins with a baby placed on a tree stump in the forest and left to its fate. The Witch does indeed come to take the baby, but falls in love with her and allows her to drink from the moon, thereby filling her with magic. That baby's mother is driven to madness and locked away in a tower. A young boy, training for a position as Elder, watches it all, convinced that something should be done to do away with this barbaric practice. So far, so good.

But, after that, the story begins to weave so poetic and allegorical that it began to bore me. Everything seems to be leading up to a climax, but it takes so long to get there and when things do finally come to a head (and I feared the girl would be mistaken for the witch and her throat slit - surely it couldn't end that way, I thought), it just sort of unravels and resolves quietly.

I felt hesitant about the undertones of the story. Was it poking fun at people who believe in a higher power, a God figure who works in mysterious ways? Was it mocking the idea of sacrifice? Why does the religious figure end up being the supreme evil entity? It felt like New Age philosophy triumphing over Christianity. Despite beautiful writing, I hesitantly read on, hoping for some form of redemption or some value to the story. Alas, I never found it. Am still confused by it, to be honest. Great potential, but sadly not a story to my tastes.

No comments: