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Author: Kelly Barnhill

Reserve at the Library

Publisher: Algonquin Books, 2016

Material: hard cover

Summary: Every year, the Protectorate picks a baby to be given as an offering to the witch of the forest. And every year Xan, a kind, gentle witch, comes to retrieve a baby. She cares for the baby until she can place them with a family on the other side of the mountain. She nourishes them with starlight to keep them strong on the journey. One year, though, she accidentally fed a baby girl moonlight. Because the baby is filled with extraordinary magic, Xan decides to raise Luna as her own and protect her from these incredible powers. Xan is largely successful - until Luna turns 13. At the same time Luna is discovering her true self, Antain, a young man in the Protectorate is on a mission to kill the witch. Are Luna, Antain, and the others prepared for the truths that could reveal themselves? This is a magical fantasy adventure about love, fear, misperception, and prejudice.

Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, independent reading, read aloud book

Recommended Age: read together: 9 to 14; read yourself: 11 and Up

Interest Level: 9 and Up

Reading Level: 4.8

Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.

Adult Reader Reaction: It took a couple chapters to fully grasp the story, but then I was engaged to the end. There are many layers, some of which I think are mostly prisms adults will see more readily. Still, the story is beautifully told and quite poignant. The book has potential for a very special treasure in adoptive families.

Pros: Beautiful imagery, magic, and humor draw you into Luna's and Antain's worlds, and keep you as curious as they to learn the truth.

Cons: None.

Borrow or Buy: Buy. This is a story to be treasured just as you would Harry Potter.


Educational Themes: There are numerous layers to the story that offer opportunities for reflection and discussion: interpersonal relationships, family dynamics, choices (and consequences), and morality, to name a few. Luna herself is a character with depth that allows you to ask "how would you feel" or "what would you do" questions.

Notes: This book has won numerous awards and recognition. The publisher donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.

Literary Categories: Fiction - fantasy, magic, family, coming of age, mystery, friendship, dragons

Date(s) Reviewed: April 2017

Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at and


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