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Wildwood: The Wildwood Chronicles, Book I by…
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Wildwood: The Wildwood Chronicles, Book I (original 2011; edition 2012)

by Colin Meloy, Carson Ellis (Illustrator)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8696910,234 (3.56)38
Member:Eglawren
Title:Wildwood: The Wildwood Chronicles, Book I
Authors:Colin Meloy
Other authors:Carson Ellis (Illustrator)
Info:Balzer Bray (2012), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 576 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:Novel - Modern Fantasy

Work details

Wildwood by Colin Meloy (Author) (2011)

  1. 20
    The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis (cdcottam1)
    cdcottam1: Both works are beautifully mystical and fantastical! Wildwood has many of the fantastical themes of Narnia without the blatantly religious undertones while still containing good moral lessons.
  2. 20
    The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente (Mav.Weirdo)
  3. 10
    Coraline by Neil Gaiman (DieFledermaus)
  4. 10
    The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (derelicious)
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» See also 38 mentions

English (68)  German (1)  All languages (69)
Showing 1-5 of 68 (next | show all)
This book ended up being slower going for me than I would have liked. Toward the middle I started getting bored, and I feel like it dragged on for 100 pages too long.

Wildwood is the story of Prue McKeel, a 12-year-old girl living in Portland with her parents and brother. In Prue's version of Portland, there is a forested area known as the Impassible Wilderness, and Prue was told to never go there, and for the most part she obliged.

That is, until the day her brother is taken by crows and led into the Impassible Wilderness, causing Prue to have to follow them. What results is Prue discovering the Impassible Wilderness is its own country known as Wildwood, and she will have to make friends with a menagerie of people and talking animals to save her brother.

Along the way, her friend Curtis follows her in and gets caught up in his own adventure, almost becoming the enemy.

Hoo boy. I figured since this was a middle grade level novel, I would breeze right through it since it's lower fare than I'm used to (Last time I read a middle grade novel was about 20 years ago). As it turns out, the pacing ended up being so slow for me that I had to put is down at times and read something else. I get that it's fantasy and fantasy books need world building, but there were parts later in the book (party scenes, downtime scenes, etc.) that needed to be cut short. It also took far too long to get to the final fight scenes, and I felt like the entire last chapter needed to go.

It you like fantasy, especially books like A Series of Unfortunate Events and Chronicles of Narnia, give this book a shot. I think the exposition of these kinds of books just makes them drag for me. ( )
  aeiouna | Mar 29, 2015 |
Prue McKeel and her friend Curtis venture into the forest outside of Portland to rescue her baby brother from the clutches of talking coyote soldiers. She discovers an entire world of magic, danger, and adventure.
  Emackay24 | Mar 15, 2015 |
Reviewed in discussions
  JessicaLeupold | Mar 14, 2015 |
This was an enjoyable children's book, but more than that, I thought this would be a wonderful gift book: it is lovingly put-together, with deckled pages, sturdy binding, and Carson Ellis' delightful illustrations throughout. It's the kind of book to hang onto if the recipient wants to keep a boxful of childhood possessions to pass on to their kids and the story, though fanciful, has a bit more "hey, bad things happen" than a lot of stories geared toward this age. Also, Wildwood is steeped in Portland's character and its protagonists, a boy and a girl, are both independently resourceful and make mistakes (and learn from them). ( )
  eaterofwords | Nov 16, 2014 |
I feel compelled to write a review, because this book didn't seem *bad* per se, just in desperate need of an editor.

The book started out strong. The writing is clever, the premise, setting and world-building are intriguing. Prue is no cookie-cutter female main character-- she's reckless, irreverent, brave and even, at times, ruthless.

But this book has big problems. Despite Meloy's creativity, clichés and stereotypes reign supreme. Curtis and his interaction with the (very obviously evil) queen bear a striking resemblence to Edmund from C. S. Lewis' books, including the element of being really annoying to read about. Furthermore, the dual perspective just served to make the story tedious and wrung every possibility of surprise out of the plot.

I have a few other gripes with this book, chief among them being the use of the "friendly stalker" trope, ie a male character ignores the clearly, forcefully stated boundaries of a female character, but then later the male and female characters become best buddies (and/or romantically involved). You might argue that this is realistic because the prevelence of this trope in books and movies has taught otherwise nice boys that it's okay to follow a girl even if she attempts to get rid of you by throwing rocks at you (after asking nicely several times), but that makes it no less irritating to read about.

If you do read this book I recommend skipping all sections written from Curtis' perspective. It will preserve a little of the excitment and mystery of the story, and Prue's storyline is much more interesting anyway.
2 vote dylanesque | Jul 22, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 68 (next | show all)
Folding elements of real-life Portland into the story, Meloy lovingly describes the jungles to the north and the cobbled streets and elegant tree houses of the more civilized south. The result is a richly satisfying weave of reality and fantasy.
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Meloy, ColinAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ellis, CarsonIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Plummer, AmandaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Hank, of course
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How five crows managed to lift a twenty-pound baby boy into the air was beyond Prue, but that was certainly the least of her worries.
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"My dear Prue, we are the inheritors of a wonderful world, a beautiful world, full of life and mystery, goodness and pain. But likewise are we children of an indifferent universe. We break our own hearts imposing our moral order on what is, by nature, a wide web of chaos. it is a hopeless task."
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Book description
From The Publisher: 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. And this is where the crows take her brother. 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 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 that could have only come from the imagination of Colin Meloy, celebrated for his inventive and fantastic storytelling as the lead singer of the Decemberists. With dozens of intricate and beautiful illustrations by award-winning artist Carson Ellis, Wildwood is truly a new classic for the twenty-first century.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 006202468X, Hardcover)

Product Description
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.

And this is where the crows take her brother.

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 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 that could have only come from the imagination of Colin Meloy, celebrated for his inventive and fantastic storytelling as the lead singer of the Decemberists. With dozens of intricate and beautiful illustrations by award-winning artist Carson Ellis, Wildwood is truly a new classic for the twenty-first century.

A Wildwood Playlist by Colin Meloy & Carson Ellis

"Ramble On" by Led Zeppelin

Colin Meloy: I remember reading an interview with Evan Dando from the Lemonheads right around the time the first Lord of the Rings movie came out, bemoaning the fact that the director hadn’t included a single Zeppelin song in the movie. I tend to agree; I mean, how rad would it’ve been after that dramatic ending in The Return of the King, with all its royal celebrations and slo-mo montages—the screen goes black and those monster riffs of “Immigrant Song” kick in? Mind-blowing. So much incredible music in the 60s and 70s was directly fueled by mid-century fantasy fiction, something that Wildwood owes much to; I feel it would be deeply remiss here not to include a little Zepp.

"Marching Song" by Esben and the Witch
Colin Meloy: That said, when I was deep in my preadolescent reverie of fantasy and sci-fi, my friends and I would meet every weekend at someone’s house to play Dungeons & Dragons. There. Confession made. And as everyone knows, the best Dungeon Masters always partnered up their biggest action scenarios with music. While I think it may have been de rigueur to blast Zeppelin or Hawkwind for some folks, I considered myself to be somewhat of a sophisticate. Joy Division was perfect music for a slow, suspenseful crawl through a gelatinous cube-infested grotto. The Legendary Pink Dots added an extra dimension to a party’s first encounter with some weird, reclusive nemesis in a castle tower. An Enchantress might appear to “Under Ice” by Kate Bush or anything from Siouxsie’s output. When I first heard this song from Brighton, England’s Esben and the Witch (even the name is evocative of those days) I imagined a new generation of over-imaginative ten-year-olds pairing their fantastical ramblings with the drowning rains and empty plains of this song.

"Take It Easy" by Hopeton Lewis
Colin Meloy: Switching gears, here. Rocksteady, a kind of precursor to the reggae explosion of the 70s, was a beautiful, thoughtful, random amalgam of classic R&B and traditional Jamaican rhythms. It’s clearly the kind of music that is birthed out of necessity; a bunch of poor kids in the slums of Kingston figuring out for themselves how to re-create the sounds that they were hearing over crappy radio speakers: Sam Cooke, Ben E. King, and Sam & Dave. And what came out wasn’t quite the same, but beautiful and weird and extraordinary in its own right. All this to say: I think that rocksteady music is the music of true enjoyment, the aural equivalent of a slice of bacon, and a rocksteady party was the kind of party I imagined Prue’s parents would throw to celebrate Mac and Prue’s joyful return. And I’ll bet that Prue’s dad dug deep for some Lewis sides—maybe he even had them on 45.

"Tam Lin" by Fairport Convention
Colin Meloy: My 60s Brit Folk obsession is fairly well documented, but I thought I’d be remiss if I didn’t include an old folk song in this list. This one, in particular, features a forbidding forest and an evil fairy queen and a pair of star-crossed lovers. Clocking in just north of seven minutes, it’s as immersive and complete a narrative as a song can hope to retell.

"Jar of Hearts" by Christina Perri
Carson Ellis: I love Sibylle Baier’s mournful songs and I listened to them a lot when I was working on Wildwood, especially during the rainy months. Portland winters can be dreary and sometimes gloomy music is the best thing for them. This isn’t my very favorite song of hers, but I chose it because, you know, the title.

"I Lost Something in the Hills" by Sibylle Baier
Carson Ellis: The intensity and focused passion of this song makes me think of my darling Jack, along with the references to heaven and hell, a favorite theme of his.

"My Lovely Elizabeth" by S.E. Rogie
Carson Ellis: Wildwood has a lot of illustrations—85 in all—and it was hard work getting them done. Man, I love to draw but at times this project was exhausting. At times it was downright grueling. Fortunately, I have some remedies for this: taking a walk always helps, as does yoga, as does S. E. Rogie.

"Katie Cruel" by Karen Dalton
Carson Ellis: This is a spooky traditional song that dates back to the Revolutionary War. Like Wildwood’s villainess, Alexandra, Katie Cruel roams the forest and the “bogs and mire,” jilted and in exile. This is a good song to listen to while walking in Forest Park, the real woods that were the inspiration for Wildwood’s Impassable Wilderness. Or while walking in any misty, quiet forest where beards of moss hang from the gnarled branches of dead trees and there’s little sign of civilization. You can imagine that around any bend you might find the solitary hut of Katie Cruel, a little curl of smoke drifting up from its chimney and the sound of her high lonesome banjo coming from within. I also love this song’s beautiful, totally unhinged chorus:

Oh that I was where I would be,

Then I would be where I am not,

Here I am where I must be

Go where I would, I cannot.

"Over the Hills and Far Away" by Led Zeppelin
Carson Ellis: I’m a longtime Led Zeppelin fan and this song, in addition to having a fitting title, was another one I loved when I was Prue’s age. I first heard it around the time I read The Hobbit, and I thought its medieval vagabond vibe was awesome. I’m also a sucker for a song that starts with a pretty guitar part and then gets crazy. As an adult I tend to like Zeppelin’s earlier, bluesier stuff better but, as a kid, I loved the Middle Earth-ish stuff and “Over the Hills and Far Away” was my jam.

A Look Inside Wildwood
Click on the images below to open larger versions. (Art copyright © 2011 by Unadoptable Books LLC.)

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:31 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

When her baby brother is kidnapped by crows, seventh-grader Prue McKeel ventures into the forbidden Impassable Wilderness--a dangerous and magical forest in the middle of Portland, Oregon--and soon finds herself involved in a war among the various inhabitants.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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