This charming fantasy stole my heart this week <3
Every year The Protectorate sacrifices it’s youngest citizen to the witch of the forest, for without the sacrifice (they are told) the witch would destroy them all. Every year, Xan, heads out to rescue a baby from certain death, found within a ring of holly trees. Making the journey to the free cities with the babe in tow, she nourishes the baby with starlight along the journey. She carefully selects the perfect family for the abandoned child, ensuring it will be forever loved and cared for. This year, however, Xan accidentally feeds the child moonlight instead of starlight, thus enmagicking her. Having fallen in love with the child on her journey, she heads back home, having claimed her for her own. With the help of her tiny dragon, Fyrian and her loyal Swamp Monster, Glerk, they raise the magic child, now Luna in a home filled with love and magic. As Luna grows, so does her magic. In an effort to protect Luna from herself and to protect those around her, Xan puts a spell on Luna to contain all her magic within until her 13th birthday. Meanwhile in the Protectorate, a mother grieves her child, never giving up hope that she will one day find her daughter, taken by the Sisters. Unbeknownst to her, as Luna nears her 13th birthday, change is coming, and not only within herself but within the Protectorate as well. A man has set out to kill the witch to protect his child which is to be this years sacrifice, and Luna must venture out on her own to save those she loves.
First of all, I listened to this one on audiobook and the narrator, Christina Moore, absolutely killed it! She brought so much life and individuality to each of the characters and the story as a whole that I was literally held hostage listening to her tell this tale. I fell in love with each and every one of these characters. Xan and her infinite kindness and compassion, Luna with her eager hunger for knowledge and exuberant energy, Glerk with his steadfast loyalty, Fyrian and his larger than life personality and carefree whim, Antain and his search for meaning, the madwoman and her never ending hope, and honestly my favorite character even if her role wasn’t as pronounced, Athean. Athean was clever, endlessly kind and compassionate, and stood up to a powerful institution in an act of bravery that was so bold it was breathtaking. Honestly she was my favorite (although Fyrian was a close second! I want a tiny dragon friend of my own!). Barnhill does a wonderful job of telling each of these characters stories individually until the culmination of events leads all their journeys to the pinnacle of the plot; so well done!
Wonderful storytelling and one I recommend to all my readers of all ages!
Until next week!