Prue McKeel’s life is ordinary. At least until her brother is abducted by a murder of crows and taken to the Impassable Wilderness, a dense, tangled forest on the edge of Portland. No one’s ever gone in – or at least returned to tell of it.
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 greater, 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 could have only come from the imagination of Colin Meloy, celebrated for his inventive and fantastic storytelling as the lead singer of the Decemberists. Wildwood is truly a new classic for the 21st century.
©2011 Unadoptable Books LLC (P)2011 HarperCollinsPublishers
About five chapters in and I just can't stand the narration performance. Amanda Plummer sort of sings all the dialog and makes every character sound like they're high on some sort pharmaceutical. I'm liking the story so far, I just think I'd like it better without hearing crazy Amanda read it. I also realized that by not buying the actual book, I'm missing out on some beautiful illustration work by Ellis Carson.
The reader seems to be putting pauses in sentences rather oddly. It tends to leave you feeling that the story makes little sense. However, I did try rethinking the sentence without the misplaces pauses and they make perfect sense so I suspect it is the reader not the writer.
Fantastical, lyrical, gripping
The concept of another world nestled in reality
Way too distracting; her voice has an odd quality to it that I can see might be considered a match for this uniqu tale but I found it to detract from the story as I found myself thinking about her voice and wondering why she made certain inflection choices rather than the story she was telling.
When twelve-year-old Prue McKeel???s baby brother is abducted by crows and taken into the Impassable Wilderness outside Portland, Oregon, an adventure begins that takes Prue and her classmate and sometimes friend Curtis into the forest of Wildwood. Prue and Curtis are separated almost immediately upon entering the wood: Prue meets Richard, the shotgun carrying Post Master General, driving his mail van, while Curtis is abducted by coyote soldiers wearing civil war garb and carrying sabers.
Separately, Prue and Curtis meet a range of humans and talking birds and animals. Divided into factions, the people and creatures of Wildwood work to either befriend or manipulate Prue and Curtis. Prue follows the advice of Owl Rex, the Prince of birds, and seeks out the Mystics, the oddly Zen wise-ones of the forest, who might be able to help Prue find her baby brother Mac. Curtis, however, is taken by the coyote soldiers to the beautiful Alexandra, the Dowager Governess of Wildwood. It is Alexandra who is at the centre of Mac???s abduction and is the reason Prue is able to enter Wildwood in the first place.
Wikipedia compares Meloy???s Wildwood to Tolkien???s Middle-Earth, but don???t pay attention. This is a secondary world fantasy, and it is populated with talking birds and animals, but it???s in no way Tolkienesque. Not even C. S. Lewis uses eighteenth-century style coyote riflemen and cannoneers. The book is a good read and the characters engaging. If anything, it is more like Brian Jacques??? Redwall books than it is like Tolkien or Lewis.
With the narrative evenly divided between Prue and Curtis, the book rolls along, although it takes a while for the true nature of Wildwood and Prue???s presence there to become clear. Like Prue, you have to wait for it, but it is worth the wait. The book does try to be political, epic, and contemporary all at once. It mostly works. If you want something in a similar vein, try The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens. These books are perhaps the beginning of something new in American children???s fantasy.
Four stars of five for Meloy???s Wildwood. Four stars as well for Amanda Plummer???s reading of the book. Plummer offers a good performance with a challenging cast of characters, but she has trouble keeping her accents in order. Nonetheless, a good pick for any age.
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