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A well told story that was a joy to read. The kids (10 & 12) both loved this and continue to talk about the characters months later and many books between. Looking forward to the next book from this author/illustrator team.
The second book in Colin Meloy's Wildwood Chronicles has left me looking forward to the next volume. In his first book, Wildwood, Meloy introduced us to a magical world, located in Portland Oregon's Forest Park. We also met characters who lived inside or outside the park, or who in a few cases could move between the two worlds. The Portland setting gives the novel a sense of place which is rare in fantasy.
I am not usually a fantasy or youth fiction reader, but was attracted to Wildwood because of its Oregon setting and young Oregon author. Wildwood and its creatures were well drawn, so that I was able to suspend disbelief and become involved in the story. In the first volume I only wished that the book moved a bit more quickly, in order to keep the reader more excited as we explored Meloy's world.
Under Wildwood has the episodic urgency I missed in Wildwood. Once again we join Curtis and Prue, children who are so well written that we believe the story, because we believe in them and through them we believe what they see and experience. We also get to know Curtis's sisters, Elsie and Rachel, who are left in a rather ominous orphanage by their parents so that they can travel to Africa. The movement between their story and events in Wildwood keeps the story exciting.
Meloy's writing is rich and picturesque. His words are well chosen, elaborate, and surprising yet fulfilling in their perfection. It is easy to imagine this very visual work as a movie. Unlike too many writers of youth fiction, he demonstrates a deep understanding of subjects as diverse as Japanese folklore and Russian literature. I could swear he has gotten into my bookshelves.
As an audiobook listener, I was pleased with the narrator change for the second book. The Wildwood audio recording was okay, but Under Wildwood was narrated by the author who has built an international reputation as a performer with his band, The Decemberists. After a sing-songy opening, Meloy presented an exciting narration with subtle, but well-done presentations of the various characters. I would like to hear more book narrations by Meloy, if only he could find time in what must be a very busy schedule.
Of course I had to have paper copies of the books too, in order to see the charming illustrations by Meloy's wife and collaborator, Carson Ellis. These are books that I hope to read to a grandchild someday, so that we can enjoy the story, vocabulary and illustrations together.
Under Wildwood's only flaw is in intrinsic difficulty inherent in its being a middle novel in a series. The characters hit the ground running, assuming that the reader has already been introduced. The ending is not so much a conclusion as a deep breath before we dive into the rest of the story. As we have seen Meloy hone his skills as a writer between his first and second books, I am looking forward to his next book which I expect to be a solid five-star read.
This is the sequel to Wildwood - and if you like children’s fiction I suggest you go read that first. This book brings back Prue, Curtis and some other familiar faces from the first book, as well as some new characters - including Curtis’ two sisters, Rachel and Elsie. Wildwood is suffering with a hard winter and civil unrest after the revolution and Prue is going to have to work to save the wood and all her friends by uniting the country. She must also beware of a mysterious assassin hired by someone in Wildwood to claim her life.
I believe Prue is around 12 and the intended age range for the book is probably about 9-13, so there were times when I was rolling my eyes. At 25, I’m obviously not the target audience, so while I found the book a little young at times, I know why - however I enjoy children’s and YA fiction, and if you do too, you’ll like this book. I did find Curtis to be a little flat - for the sake of staying spoiler free, I just felt he had no real emotion. But overall it was a very fun book and a quick read. I’ll definitely be reading the 3rd book!
The other aspect I’d Iike to comment on is the physical beauty of this book - the edges of the pages are wonderfully rough and raw. The art by Ellis is awesome - as evidenced by my previous posts. These touches made reading the book even more fun. So if you enjoy the genre, or you’ve read the first book, definitely pick up Under Wildwood.
This book is just as magical and intriguing as the first one. It continues the story of the world right on the edge of our world, but this time shows the grittier side of both. Children being used for free labor, assassins of some fanatic religious group, overcoming tyrannical leaders, abandoning your family to live the life you want and the consequences that come with that. I mean I can't think of a young adult book that does ALL this at once besides this one.
My favorite part is still the illustrations though. They're so charming, and they help bring the story to life without forcing you to imagine everything a certain way. Every few pages there will be this small image to help guide you, which makes reading it so much more fun.
Not to mention the lessons about growing up in this book are completely unreal. I felt like I grew up just reading it, and I'm 23. No matter how old you are, you're never too old to get slapped in the face by the reality that you'll always have to make hard decisions, even if you run away from them. That in itself makes this book worth reading, but the awesome story (and cliffhanger!) make it a must.
"Under Wildwood" is the second edition to the first book of Wildwood.
I personally gave this book a five because it fits perfectly into the sort of stories that I tend to like. It has plenty of magic that can get people enraptured. There is real danger going on in the plot that catches attention and makes a reader want to finish the book as fast as possible to find out what happens.
Naturally, I didn't exactly like some parts because it reminded me that this book is aimed more toward teenage readers. There are some parts that are predictable, and some parts that just make a person think, "I highly doubt this would really happen."
Despite the reminder, I think this is a great read that ends up entwining Prue and Curtis's stories with whole other subplots that a person can believe will lead to a crazy-awesome third book.
I think there were too many narrative voices for this book to work for me and they weren't distinct enough. Also, you need to read the third part - so the story is really really long....I found this a bit disappointing as the first book wrapped up neatly enough to work as a stand alone book