Review Blog

May 08 2017

The Beast of Hushing Wood by Gabrielle Wang

cover image

Penguin, 2017. ISBN 9780143309178
(Age: 9-12) Recommended. Threads of magical fantasy, Eastern mysticism and mythology weave their magic in this lyrical narrative written and illustrated by Gabrielle Wang.
Ziggy Truegood is a spirited and imaginative eleven-year-old girl who has an elemental connection to the world around her. She lives with her mother in a house surrounded by the dark forest of Hushing Wood. While the townsfolk fear the evil they perceive lurks amongst the thousand-year-old trees, Ziggy enjoys the forest's sensory beauty, finding comfort in the whisper of the stretching branches, the earthy smells and familiar pebbly trails.
Haunted by premonitions of a huge silver beast drowning her on her twelfth birthday, Ziggy seeks guidance to understand her frightening dreams. With the help of her Grandpa Truegood, mute Big Bobby Little and her friend Petal, Ziggy looks for answers. Ziggy's fear increases when she notices a silver animal lurking in the woods at night. Who can unlock the mysteries of why she can see spirit animals and why has the forest become a fearful place?
When strangers Raffi Tazi and his grandfather arrive in town, wearing different clothes, speaking a different language, the townsfolk are concerned. With the aid of a little jade bottle, guidance from her grandfather and the help of her friends, Ziggy rises to meet the challenges her birthday brings.
Gabrielle Wang's imaginative fable, is filled with beautifully crafted descriptions, richly detailed settings and characters that face real issues - a family breakup, physical differences, the feeling of alienation and bullying. The Beast of Hushing Wood is complemented by Wang's intriguing watercolour illustrations of small detailed elements and lively scenes. This novel is just right for dedicated readers who enjoy fables and tales of magical realism.
Rhyllis Bignell

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