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If the name Colin Meloy sounds familiar, it's probably because he's the lead singer and songwriter for a band, the Decemberists.
And those who have heard his songs probably will feel fairly at home in his first novel, "Wildwood: The Wildwood Chronicles, Book I." It's a charming, well-written little adventure novel set in a bizarre Alice-in-Wonderlandish forest, and the only problem is that I didn't feel fully connected to the characters.
Prue is understandably startled when five crows kidnap her baby brother -- and upset when they all vanish into the Impassable Wilderness. Knowing how devastated her parents will be, she sets out into the wildwood to find her brother and bring him home, followed by the class nerd Curtis.
But what is awaiting them is beyond even Curtis' expectations -- a civilization populated by beasts and birds, which is being threatened by the beautiful and ruthless Governess. When the children are separated, they find themselves involved with separate groups within the Wildwood, which is about to be hit by a civil war. And if they can't get the baby back soon, the Governess will use him to destroy the Wildwood...
I can only assume that Colin Meloy really enjoyed the Narnia Chronicles and "Alice in Wonderland" as a child, because "Wildwood: The Wildwood Chronicles, Book I" is the sort of book that such a person would write. It's charming, whimsical, and has lots of talking animals who act in a humorously human manner.
And his writing is quite good, sometimes even lovely. He brings a lot of atmosphere to every scene, whether it's the Governess' moss-and-ivy throne-room or the forest bandits' blood ceremony. There's also a lot of gentle, wry humor woven through it, such as Prue getting tangled in local bureaucracies, but it grows more serious as the story winds on through the shady glades of the Wildwood.
The one problem is that it took me awhile to warm up to Prue or Curtis. They simply didn't feel very well-developed at first, which might put off some readers before Meloy has a chance to make you really like them. But about halfway through, I started really liking Curtis and Prue -- she's a very practical, kindly girl who adjusts very well to the whole Wildwood thing, while he is a budding artist with a boundless imagination.
"Wildwood: The Wildwood Chronicles, Book I" is a charming debut for people who love classic fantasy, forests and possibly the Decemberists. It's more than enough to intrigue me in the second book.
I really liked the premise (surreal!) and I liked how the book wrapped up at the end rather than leaving me hanging (as often happens with trilogies). I also a HUGE fan of Carson Ellis and I loved seeing her drawings in this book!
A lovely book, taking you into a magical wonderland. Beautifully descriptive, with lovely illustrations throughout. Though this is book 1 of a trilogy, reading the other books isn't mandatory and this book can be enjoyed on its own. Would suit teenage to adult readers.
I'd totally recommended this book for anyone wishing for a slight meander back into one's childhood. It takes you back to being a child. Needless to say, this book should work a treat with real kids ;)
I saw this book on the New York Times website, and at that time I downloaded an extract. As often happens I have read many other books before rediscovering that "old" file. I found out that it was available on amazon.it and so eventually bought the complete book. The novel is very smooth and the plot is enjoyable at any point in the book. Somewhere I read that this is just a fusion of Alice in Wonderland and The adventures of Narnia, but actually I am not quite agree. I mean, there's more. There are: loyalty and good feelings, but adventures and battles as well. The happy ending is not as obvious as one might imagine