Friday, July 15, 2011

Wildwood by Colin Meloy

Balzer + Bray (August 30, 2011) 560 pages(Yes, this is one big chunk of a book!)

Description from Amazon:

Prue McKeel’s life is ordinary. At least until her baby brother is abducted by a murder of crows. And then things get really weird.

You see, on every map of Portland, Oregon, there is a big splotch of green on the edge of the city labeled “I.W.” This stands for “Impassable Wilderness.” No one’s ever gone in—or at least returned to tell of it.

And this is where the crows take her brother.

So begins an adventure that will take Prue and her friend Curtis deep into the Impassable Wilderness. There they uncover a secret world in the midst of violent upheaval, a world full of warring creatures, peaceable mystics, and powerful figures with the darkest intentions. And 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.

Wildwood is a spellbinding tale full of wonder, danger, and magic that juxtaposes the thrill of a secret world and modern city life. Original and fresh yet steeped in classic fantasy, this is a novel that could have only come from the imagination of Colin Meloy, celebrated for his inventive and fantastic storytelling as the lead singer of the Decemberists. With dozens of intricate and beautiful illustrations by award-winning artist Carson Ellis, Wildwood is truly a new classic for the twenty-first century.

My Review:

"The first book in the epic middle-grade fantasy series full of magic, wonder, and danger—nothing less than an American Narnia—from Colin Meloy, lead singer of the highly celebrated band the Decemberists, and Carson Ellis, the acclaimed illustrator of the New York Times bestselling The Mysterious Benedict Society."

The previous statement is why I decided to read this book. That, and Trenton Lee Stewart endorsed it. I've heard wonderful things about his books, so I figured this would be a good book. I debated whether to even review Wildwood on my blog, but since it is going on my "on the fence" list I figured I might as well do a little explaining. I got this book as part of the Amazon Vine program, where I've already posted my review and gave it 4 stars. It's definitely one those books that has weighed on my mind, though. I just don't think it deserves 4 stars due to the content.

The fact that the book is promoted as a Narnia-type book upsets me. I'm not going to say much on that, though, because at the time of writing this I'm only in the second book. I don't feel I'm entitled to too much of an opinion at the moment. There's obvious plot similarities between Wildwood and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I don't think plot similarities is exactly something that authors brag about, though. :) I did decide this is definitely one I'll be keeping a watch at reviews. I have a feeling the true Narnia fans will be highly offended! There's already one very interesting review on Amazon that I encourage you to read. (the 1 star review) I'm not saying I agree. I won't even pretend that I got all that she did out of the book. I'm way more of a "surface reader" for the most part. That's why I've already ordered a book to help me understand more about what the Real Narnia series means.

On to the content now! (Possible spoilers here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

It was just a very dark book to be for young readers, in my opinion. I was a bit surprised by some it! There was drinking(and the characters even slurring their words to show how drunk they were), smoking, cussing(both actual words and just saying that someone cursed), and violent scenes. The "bad" woman in the story planned to sacrifce a baby to vines, so they could drink his blood. She had also put her dead son's teeth into a mechanical being to bring her son back to life with magic. Prue, the main girl, left her 1 year old brother outside in a wagon while she went into the library. Come on, people!! It was definitely written for young reader's, but some of the content seemed for a much older crowd! This is the second young reader's book I've felt this way about, so maybe this is normal these days. I've always been a pretty sheltered person, though, (and wouldn't have it any other way!) so maybe I'm being too hard on books. I do read much differently now that I'm a parent than when I wasn't. ???? If this was targeted as a young adult book, I wouldn't have thought much about it, and it would go straight to my clean read list. I'm just much harder on young readers booksI read.

Other than the (extra) content, the story was enjoyable. It was adventurous and all. When I wasn't wanting to smack the author(I say that kindly!), I enjoyed reading about Prue and Curtis. There were pictures scattered all throughout the book, and I really loved looking at those. The final copy will have 6 full color pages, too. since I have an ARC, I didn't get to see those and many others. Whenever I'm at a book store, I'll definitely flip through a copy. From my understanding, the author and illustrator are husband and wife. (?) Very sweet! :)

*I was provided an ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.


  1. Oh wow. Ok.

    #1 - Don't like the Narnia reference.

    #2 - I shall take your statements to mean that you haven't read THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY YET so I'll be on your tail now. ;D (Haha)

    #3 - Trenton Lee Stewart is an awesome writer but this definitely makes me not want to follow any of his own reading recommendations. Unless he is recommending his own work, of course. ;)

    I hadn't heard of this book but it doesn't sound like one I would read. Appreciate the time you did give it though!

  2. I've have definitely been on the lookout for TMBS books! I really want to read those!

    I didn't mean anything bad against Trenton Lee Stewart. ;) I just picked up on the name when I was researching whether or not to get this one. I do hate that he recommended it, but I still plan on getting his books one day, though.