Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate, Young Adult
Author: Kelly Barnhill
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Each year the Protectorate sacrifices a baby, but what the townspeople don’t know is that the kind Witch Xan safely retrieves them all. The year she retrieves Luna, Xan realizes only she can guide the child infused with moon magic, and she takes her home. Back in the Protectorate, Antian begins to question the practice of infant sacrifice as he sees Luna’s mother driven to madness from loss, and his son is marked as the next sacrifice for the Witch. As the pair set out to put an end to the ritual, Luna nears her thirteenth birthday and her long-suppressed magic is trying to break free. As Xan travels to retrieve the newest baby, Luna follows her. Soon everyone’s fates intertwine as secrets are revealed that show the real Witch may be closer than expected.
This novel is rich with a thoughtfully complex plot and characters. Told through various points of view, the setting shifts as each character takes up the story, making an intricate narrative that richly builds to allow all the desperate parts to come together in a satisfying conclusion. The tone of the book is like a lovely fairy tale with a modern sensibility, and the unique character types add interest and a touch of humor that connects well to the themes of family and belonging. While the plot flows well, it is not action packed, so it will appeal more to readers who prefer a more thoughtful approach that slowly reveals the truths unveiled in this amazing story.