Wildwood written by Colin Meloy and illustrated by Carson Ellis - Review:
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.
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 as a story is quite reminiscent of Narnia (The Lion, The Witch, And the Wardrobe). Throughout the story I found myself picturing Prue as Lucy, Curtis as Edmund and the Dowager Governess as the White Witch. At times I honestly had to stop and remind myself that they were two different stories - my confusion was real. This isn’t in any way a bad thing, it was just really hard on my brain when reading late at night or when I was running on a lack of sleep.
Wildwood’s plot is rich with magic, mystery and adventure. There are talking animals, bandits, mystics, friendships and beautiful illustrations. What’s not to love? Well, aside from the fact that it’s kind of slow. No scratch that, really slow. But it’s the first in a trilogy so there’s a fair amount of world building and yadiyadiya. What do you expect?
This book is definitely directed more towards younger audiences but as a person who is mentally five, I loved it. One thing I really like about reading books like these is they’re just so easy to read! You could have a billion assignments due and be super busy but you can still read this book without it keeping you up at night getting no sleep before your exams like? “Wait, what’s going to happen next? What if this happens? Omg, what if my favourite character dies!? No. I need to keep reading… but I can’t.” I’m very bad at reading late at night and by late I mean past 9:30. It’s a sad life.
Now let’s go back to the illustrations for a moment: The illustrations are woven beautifully with the text and would have to be my favourite aspect of this book. Carson Ellis, the illustrator, I believe also illustrated The Mysterious Benedict Society which I loved. (photo of favourite illustration) The style is unique and the colours are vivid - I simply adore pretty pictures < wow, that sounded formal.
If you can look past the pace, Wildwood is an enchanting read which I would definitely recommend as long as you’re not looking for something action packed of course.