The Forest of Moon and Sword by Amy Raphael is a fantastic children’s book that focuses around Art and her adventures during one of the darkest periods of history: the reign of Hopkins, the self-appointed Witchfinder General who murdered during his reign hundreds of women across Scotland and England for their healing gifts and other aspects for which he considered them to be witches. Considering topic approached, the novel can even be considered historical fiction as it depicts the classical period of witch-hunts that took place in the Early Modern period (c. 1450-1750).
The novel follows a young girl attempting to save her mother, who healed numerous people with different herbs, as she encounters multiple difficulties that she is able to push through with some help. Regardless of being a children’s book, The Forest of Moon and Sword teaches its readers a little bit of history that nowadays not many teachers mention during their classes. As one of the classes I am taking at university is gender discourses, which means that we focus on feminism and how women were perceived throughout history, I was already aware of the cruelties that have happened to innocent women. This novel only reinforced the idea and approached a theme I have never considered before: witch-hunts from the perspective of the children left behind.
The novel abounds in illustrations, including even little flowers for the reader identify the herbs Art’s mother used for healing those afflicted by diseases! I found the whole story to be very descriptive, Amy Raphael offering the reader, through the literary devices she used, the possibility to visualize everything – that being, the sword fights, Art’s horse, the countryside, the journey, and others. The author managed to do something out of the ordinary: she built a magical story without using actual magic. While reading I kept telling myself “this should be made into a movie” as everything felt so real and vivid. I would recommend it to children because it is the perfect introduction to the genre for middle grade readers (and not only). Being a brilliant action story, it would offer everyone a well detailed insight into the 15th century as it highlights the cruelties women had to go through without violent depictions of the events.
Title: The Forest of Moon and Sword
Author: Amy Raphael
Publication Date: 2021
Publisher: Orion Children’s Books