Author: Kelly Barnhill
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Publication Date: August 9th, 2016
GoodReads Summary: 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.
The acclaimed author of The Witch’s Boy has created another epic coming-of-age fairy tale destined to become a modern classic.
What I Think: I got lost in Xan and Luna's world which to me, illustrates just how effective Kelly Barnhill's writing is. She brings Xan and Luna and all the other characters to life and in so clearly developing the characters, she brings their world to life as well. Reading her writing had me looking at people and my own characters in a different way. I thought about what each of my characters want and what propels the story forward because of it. I noticed more in my own characters but also in people around me. I've never thought I could write fantasy before but this story has me believing I can. It's just so full of heart and rich with description.
As a mentor text it's a remarkable text to help readers think about characters and how each character has to have his or her own story arc. Knowing what drives each character and motivates him or her helps to tell a more rounded story. I've thought about qualities of characters before but this is an amazing mentor text for thinking about what each character wants.
Snatch of Text:
"The madwoman in the Tower could not remember her own name.
She could remember no one's name.
What was a name, anyway? You can't hold it up. You can't smell it. You can't rock it to sleep. You can't whisper your love to it over and over again. There once was a name that she treasured above all others. But it had flown away, like a bird. And she could not coax it back." (p. 127)
"For the people who loved Luna, time passed in a blur. Luna, however, worried that she might never be twelve. Each day felt like a heavy stone to be hoisted to the top of a very tall mountain." (p. 152)
Writing Prompt: Write about a character and what he or she might want more than anything.