My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A new book to add to my favorites list! I LOVED this newly awarded Newbery Medal winner.
Every year, a baby is taken to the forest as a sacrifice, to keep a witch from terrorizing the “Protectorate” town. Yes, I know that sounds awful! But we are informed early on that the witch is not the horrible person the town says she is. In fact, she acts more like a guardian angel to the babies. Now, I won’t spoil what she does exactly, but it’s beautiful.
Then we have a grief-stricken mother, who did not want her baby taken to the forest. She is the first person to protest and fight against the ceremony since anyone can remember. She does not prevail and is locked away as a “madwoman.” Sounds horrible, right? It is! But then so many things happen and there is plently of hope to be found, so remember that.
There is a questioner. Someone else who does not believe it’s right to leave babies in the forest. And wonders, why hasn’t anyone fought back or killed the witch? He only knows what they tell in the Protectorate.
The witch, who’s actually more like a gaurdian like I said earlier, accidentally feeds the newest baby moonlight instead of starlight, and enmagicks her. So this baby gets named Luna, and Luna grows into a playful, mischievous, tender hearted girl who can’t control her magic. So the witch has to figure out how to help her control it.
There are two magical creatures that live alongside Luna and the witch, and they make a sweet family type of unit.
Meanwhile, as the years pass, we revisit the POVs of the townspeople like the “madwoman”, the questioner, and the deceitful rulers of the town.
Things come to a head as Luna gets close to turning 13, the questioner intends to stop the town’s madness of giving up babies, and the “madwoman” has a quest of her own. It becomes a race against time, a search for truth, and an unveiling of secrets.
I would recommend to upper middle grade readers.