By: Colin Meloy
With illustrations by: Carson Ellis
Review by: Kylie Comfoltey
Borrowed from hardcover edition:
When her baby brother is kidnapped by crows, Prue McKeel begins an adventure that will take her and her friend Curtis way beyond her hometown and deep into the Impassable Wilderness. There they uncover a secret world in the midst of violent upheaval, a world full of warring creatures, peace-loving mystics and powerful figures with the darkest intentions. What begins as a rescue mission becomes something much bigger as the two friends find themselves entwined in a struggle for the very freedom of this wilderness. A wilderness the locals call Wildwood.
One thing I love about middle grade fantasy is the commonality of original illustrations. I was sold on Wildwood the moment I saw the cover. Better yet, the book is sprinkled with dozens of illustrations, the fanciful style of which perfectly fits the fairy tale quality of the writing.
I very much enjoyed reading Wildwood. The writing was wonderful, all resplendent words and charming tone. The story was fun and the world-building was vivid. Colin Meloy is a natural storyteller and I couldn't get enough of Carson Ellis' fabulous illustrations!
That said, it took me a full two weeks to read Wildwood. At 541 pages this is a hefty mother of a novel, especially for MG. Slowly turning through the first three quarters of the book took some determination on my part. It lagged and lazed along and I felt like I was getting nowhere. The final 150 pages were all business, full of action and excitement, but getting there wasn't quite as thrilling.
In my opinion, the world-building could have used fewer pages. Some will love the whimsical descriptions and beautiful details; if that's your game, you will fall in love with Wildwood from the start. For those who prefer action and adventure to detailed evil ivy depictions, Wildwood is also stocked with outcast armies, exciting battles, and the good vs. evil conflict prevalent in middle grade reads. You'll simply have to do some skimming in between. (I didn't skim at all; Colin's writing fascinated me!)
I loved Prue and Curtis. I was disappointed in Prue's parents. Prue couldn't have been as strong a character without her wimpy parents, but I would slap them if I could. Curtis was my favorite. He is excited about life and he is unquestionably loyal, sometimes to a fault. Oh, to be twelve again!
In short: Wildwood is a wonderful adventure worth reading, but not as gripping as I'd hoped it would be. I am a huge supporter of husband/wife teams and the teamwork of Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis is impressive, to say the least. I could feel the time and dedication that went into creating this book and am looking forward to more Wildwood adventures! This series shows great potential.
Sexuality: Friendship by happenstance. Or stalking, but who's going to bring that up?
Drugs/Alcohol: The coyotes love their blackberry concoction. Curtis enjoyed a taste-test.
Violence: Mild. Battles transpire without much mention of blood and guts.
BONUS! Read the first four chapters on the Wildwood Chronicles site now! And watch this cute trailer.