by Hal Patnott
The following titles from our young adult and middle grade 2016 collections share a common motif, children stolen by magic. Stop by the Butler Center to check out our advanced review copies of The Call by Peadar O’Guilin and The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill.
Start counting. The Call lasts three minutes and four seconds to be exact, at least, in the mortal realm. In the Grey Lands, where armies of vicious and eternally beautiful Sidhe await their human prey, the Call might seem to last days. They know exactly when and where their victims will arrive in their treacherous and colorless wildlands. The choice is simple: run or die. For twenty-five years, the Sidhe have been stealing teenagers. No one can predict when the Sidhe will call, but they always do. Only one in ten survive.
Fourteen-year-old Nessa can’t run. As an infant, she contracted Polio and now her legs prevent her from keeping up with her classmates at her survival college. Still, she refuses to give up her fight, despite the ridicule she receives from classmates, and teachers. On her tenth birthday, she decided, “I’m going to live. And nobody’s going to stop me” and she’s determined to fulfill that promise even if that means pushing away the people she loves (3). However, when mysterious and terrifying reports crop up of mass murders at other survival colleges around the country, Nessa has more to worry about than her impending Call. She must find a way to save her school and herself.
Peadar O’Guilin writes without pity. Nessa is as fierce as Katniss Everdeen, and the odds are definitely not in her favor. The Call is a dark and brutal adventure perfect for fans of horror and fantasy.
Everyone knows a witch lives in the forest, because every year the people of the Protectorate must sacrifice their youngest child to keep her at peace. No one knows what she does with the children, maybe she eats them or makes them her slaves. The witch is not the Protectorate’s only problem. No one ever has enough to eat.They scrounge what they can from the Bog. Heavy clouds of sorrow hang over their isolated village.
Xan has lived on the volcano in the forest for five hundred years with her bog monster Glerk and her “Perfectly Tiny Dragon,” Fyrian (17). Although she can’t fathom why, every year the village at the edge of the forest abandons a baby in the swamp. She doesn’t ask questions. The Protectorate is so clouded with sorrow, that surely, she believes, those abandoned babies would be better off some place else, where they can grow up strong and loved. So every year she collects the baby and then sets off for the Free Cities where people are kind and love children. Along the way, she feeds the babies goat milk, and when that runs out, she uses magic to feed them starlight. However, one year, when Xan reaches up for starlight, she pulls down the light of the moon instead. While starlight might make “marvelous” food for a baby, moonlight is dangerous, because moonlight is pure magic (20). One sip enmagicks the baby, so Xan has no choice, but to keep her and raise her herself.
At its heart, The Girl Who Drank the Moon is a book about the power of stories and the dangers of sorrow. Quirky and enchanting characters keep the overall tone lighthearted. Like Fyrian the “Perfectly Tiny Dragon,” The Girl Who Drank the Moon has “Simply Enormous” heart.