April 19, 2017
Once each year, the youngest baby in the Protectorate is taken into the woods. The people loathe this practice and parents mourn but it is the only way to keep the witch in the woods from destroying them all.
Xan, coincidentally, is a witch and she lives in the far side of the wood. She doesn’t understand why these sad, sad people keep leaving babies in the woods, but each year she is hiding nearby to save the child. She feeds the baby goats milk and starlight until she can reach a distant city where the children are always taken in and loved.
One year Xan accidentally feeds the baby moonlight along with the star light. She has imbued the child with magic and magic is a trick thing. Knowing that only she can teach the tiny girl how to control her gift, Xan takes her home and raises her as her own granddaughter.
The Elders and the Head Sister know the truth. The youngest elder to take the child into the woods is only a boy when the tiny girl is left behind. He can’t get the horror of what he has done out of his mind and leaves the Elders only to grow up and become a father. A father who one day has the youngest child in the village.
I’m not going to say any more about the plot because I don’t want to give everything away. This is such a timely story. It is about people who sow misery and feed on the people’s sorrow. It is about using grief, fear and agony to distract people from what is going on.
Sounds gloomy, doesn’t it? But the book isn’t. It is also a story about resilience and not giving up. There are dragons (good dragons) and humor and lots of love.
Younger readers, grade 3 or 4 and up, who love fantasy will enjoy this story with a young heroine, Luna, who has to learn who she is, a boy who grows into a man who is determined to end the sorrow, and a funny, delusional dragon. Most of us have had the grave misfortune to have a sorry eater in our lives and it is a moment of power when, reading this book, that fact clicks and we begin both to see and to understand.