Author: Colin Meloy
Series: Wildwood Chronicles, #1
Prue McKeel is just a normal twelve-year-old girl until a murder of crows kidnaps her brother Mac. Now Prue must enter into the Impassable Wilderness, a forested region just beyond her hometown of Portland, to find her brother and bring him home. Prue is not alone in her endeavor, her friend Curtis has also followed her into the great, strange expanse. When the two of them come across a skirmish of soldier coyotes arguing, they both realize the land they’ve stumbled into is far different from their own. Colin Meloy’s Wildwood is story of adventure and bravery in a mysterious new world.
“In a flash of an instant and without a sound, the funnel of crows crested the far side of the river and disappeared in a long, thin column into the darkness of these woods. Her brother had been taken into the Impassable Wilderness.”
The concept of Wildwood is a lot more interesting than its execution. With 541 pages, the book felt a little bit endless at times and while I enjoy reading worlds built out of words, this one wasn’t as magical as I hoped it would be. Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart comes immediately to mind, a book just as long but sustainable because of its magic. Part of the issue with Wildwood is the author’s narrative which feels too much composed by an adult rather than a child. Consequently, I felt a barrier between me and the main characters.
I hate to be a nit picker when it comes to the content of children’s literature, but I found it very uncomfortable to read about children waving around pistols and lighting cannons, resulting in casualties. When I think about it, there are some really bad lessons in this book like getting in a vehicle with a stranger. Haven’t these kids heard the phrase “stranger, danger”? And I’ve read enough books, including The Chronicles of Narnia (which this book reminded me of) or any book centered around the Fair Folk, to know when entering a foreign realm not to accept food or drink from the locals.
Prue and Curtis were both charming at times and I was amused when I first began the book, but as it progressed I kept seeing more and more problems. This is especially true with regard to Prue’s parents. It was easy to disregard their lack of observation when Prue returns home without their child because I understood it was necessary to move the story along, but my mouth about dropped open the next time I read about them. The sheer irresponsibility and callousness exhibited by these adults was astonishing.
On a bright note, the illustrations by Carson Ellis were lovely.