Wildwood by Colin Meloy | Illustrated by Carson Ellis
Publication Date: August 30th, 2011
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Page Count: 541 pages
Source: Publisher for Review
Age: 10 and up - Some frightening elements and advanced vocabulary may be too much for younger children
Goodreads | Books Inc.
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.When Prue's baby brother is kidnapped by a murder of crows, she wastes no time setting off into the impassable wilderness to save him. Along the way, Prue discovers that her missing brother is part of something much bigger and more sinister than she could ever imagine. Wildwood by Colin Meloy has to be, by far, the best book I've read all year. I am absolutely in love and obsessed with it and I have been recommending it to anyone and every one I know. The characters are fantastic and strong, and the world building is magnificently constructed. While written for a younger audience, the adventurous plot and lyrical writing style will have adults and children hooked from the very beginning.
Prue wastes no time in deciding that she will do everything in her power to save her brother, risking her life on more than one occasion. Prue's classmate, Curtis, takes it upon himself to accompany her in hopes that he'll find friendship and an adventure. I loved Prue from the very beginning; her heart is huge and she is an incredibly courageous young girl. Curtis' need to help Prue was admirable and selfless and I loved how much he grew into himself throughout the story. Their journey through Wildwood helps both Prue and Curtis come into themselves, realizing their true potential and developing into warriors while growing out of their childhood selves. The rest of the characters are fantastic - an army of coyotes, an evil witch, an owl king, and a helpful mailman all play important roles in Prue's journey.
Meloy's writing style has to be one of the best I've encountered in a while. His poetic form captured my interest immediately and his ability to weave such metaphorical language with beautiful imagery created a harmonious reading experience. As the lead singer of The Decemberists, his writing style becomes very lyrical and emotional which adds a great depth to the plot and advances the world-building to another level. The Narnia-esque world that Meloy creates is both fascinating and frightening, but I was unable to pull myself away. I became completely immersed in the wilderness and magic of Wildwood. The juxtaposition of reality and fantasy is fantastic and the strength of children compared to the weakness of adults is a wonderful concept. The size may be daunting, but I know that once readers meet Prue and Curtis they will be hooked.
It didn't take long for Wildwood to grab me and once I was hooked I wasn't letting go. The world of this "impassable wilderness" is frightening and exhilarating and I can't wait to return. The story may be too scary for younger children, but fans of Narnia and Harry Potter will devour it. The gorgeous writing style and daring plot will seize children (and adults) of all ages. I am so ready to pick up all of Meloy's books, even the ones he hasn't written yet!