Rendi has run away from home and stowed away in the cart of a wine seller. He is discovered when he cart owner stops to sell wine to an innkeeper in the Village of Clear Sky. The kindly innkeeper takes the boy on to help him and his young daughter run the inn in the absence of the keeper's son, who has gone missing. The son is not the only thing missing. The moon seems to be missing from sky above Village of Clear Sky, as is the rain. At night Rendi can hear the sky weeping but no one else seems to hear it until one day a beautiful older woman arrives to stay in the inn. She tells wonderful stories of the beings that live in the moon, the lake and the mountain. As time passes Rendi comes to suspect that the woman is more than she seems, and her stories are not just idle fairy tales.
Grace Lin is a master storyteller. She weaves all the elements of her story into an amazing lace-work of connections and meaning. At the same time she creates interesting and complex characters who have fully realized personalities. This book takes place in the same world as her Newbery Honor book, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, but you do not need to read one before you read the other. Both books are loosely based on Asian mythology and are a great introduction to that topic. (288 p)