Kelly Barnhill never ceases to amaze me. Awarded with the 2017 Newberry Award Medal for The Girl Who Drank the Moon, Barnhill has written a smorgasbord of books for young people, including the popular titles in both fiction and non-fiction.
Her writing is magical in a literal, figurative, and literary sense. It is rife with joy and sadness – hitting notes within the entire range of the emotional spectrum. The Witch’s Boy is a great book for young readers as well as adults.
Like so many authors in the fantasy genre, Barnhill had the task of creating a fictional setting that highly engages readers while simultaneously allowing that setting to tell a story. Without spoiling the plot, it’s safe to say that Barnhill accomplishes this task. The world that she creates becomes a character of its own.
As we experience the at-first separate, but gradually converging journeys of Ned and Áine, the creeping sense of destiny, prophecy, and all-encompassing magic pushes the reader forward.
It’s a great book for young readers, and Barnhill has inspired me to think creatively in my own writing; she is surely an influence on my most recent works. In fact, while reading her book, I had to say to my students with a wide smile and nearly-uncontrollable enthusiasm, “This is a must! Add it to your list if you enjoy this genre.”
But The Witch’s Boy is not just for fantasy enthusiasts, although the work strongly plays on traditional fantasy themes and ideas. This work is for any child or young adult who likes a good story with a touch of mystery – any person who enjoys the thrill of seeing characters self-actualize, grow, and reach new heights. Trust me, I know; my students recommended it countless times.
If you are interested in Barnhill’s books, here are links to her WordPress page: