Review Blog

Nov 21 2011

Wildwood by Colin Meloy

cover image

The Wildwood Chronicles, Book 1. Ill. by Carson Ellis. Penguin, 2011. ISBN: 9780670075157.
Recommended for ages 9+. Living a quiet, uneventful life in Portland, things change for Prue when her baby brother, Mac, is abducted by a murder of crows. She watches him being carried into the Impassable Wilderness, a section of the map of which no-one is prepared to speak or visit. Naturally, Prue decides to rescue him and, chatting to herself as she tries to create a plan, is overheard by her classmate, Curtis. The following day, having hidden her brother's disappearance from her parents, Curtis follows Prue as she goes in search of Mac. Gaining entry to the woods, they meet an assortment of human and animal characters, some of whom they find they can trust and others whose motives are questionable. There is more than a touch of the Chronicles of Narnia in this title, as magical elements abound, battles are fought and blood is shed in the process of overcoming the evil forces.
With this being the first title in the series, Meloy has spent much time introducing the setting and characters; therefore, at times the action is somewhat slow. Nonetheless, Wildwood is competently written, perhaps with the aim of being accessible to both children and the young adult audience, as some of the language tends to be more complex. The dissension between the different groups living within Wildwood, their pre-conceived notions of one another, the desire for supremacy of each group and the political battles in which they are involved could be paralleled with issues in many other countries. Simpler themes such as tenacity, loyalty, family, friendship and the importance of team work could also be drawn out if this series were to be used in the classroom. The quality of the paper makes this a book you wish to have and hold, as do the illustrations which are integral. With six colour plates and multiple maps, in addition to many full page and smaller black and white illustrations and silhouettes scattered throughout, one's imagination is fired but there is also much portrayed for the reader's pleasure.
Jo Schenkel

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