In the tradition of The Wizard of Oz and Lord of the Rings, where a young innocent journeys into and through an otherworldly place, Wildwood is the story of twelve-year-old Prue who must enter the Impassable Wilderness to rescue her baby brother, Mac, who has been abducted by a murder of crows:
”Mac gave a terrific squeal as the first crow reached him, snagging the hood of his jumper in a quick flourish of a talon. A second took hold of a sleeve, a third grabbing the shoulder. A fourth, a fifth touched down, until the swarm surrounded and obscured the view of his body in a sea of flashing, feathery blackness. And then, with seemingly perfect ease, Mac was lifted from the ground and into the air.”
Following Prue into the forest is her sensitive and intuitive schoolmate, Curtis. Separated once they get into the Impassable Wilderness, Prue and Curtis encounter talking creatures, humans, mystics, and a building political conflict from their separate territories, each having their own adventures along the way—one rides on the back of a golden eagle, the other lives among coyote soldiers. Curtis is a self-proclaimed pacifist, and Prue doesn’t much like violence either and yet they’re caught up in the middle of an impending war.
The groups in conflict at the beginning of the novel come together at the end to defeat a greater evil. The politically focused middle of the story slows the pace a bit but the latter half of the book is worth riding it out.
Meloy’s debut novel has a classic fantasy feel and yet is speckled with modern elements that make it fresh. The novel is equally weighted with strong male and female characters. A great read for young male and female readers who will also appreciate Ellis’s illustrations throughout.
—Kari Baumbach, children’s literature enthusiast
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