Saturday, January 7, 2012

Wildwood by Colin Meloy

Wildwood by Colin Meloy has many elements typical of middle-grade fantasy, so by my own reckoning, I should have loved it. Instead, I found it merely "all right."

In this massive chunk of a book, seventh-grader Prue is astonished and frightened when her baby brother Mac is kidnapped by a murder of crows, who take him into the heart of the "Impassible Wilderness." When she heads into the wilderness to rescue Mac, one of her classmates, Curtis, follows. Adventures ensue.

The book owes a considerable debt to Narnia, with its talking animals, White Witch-like figure, and a Stone Table -- er, Plinth -- as a place of ritual. Perhaps that's why I found it slightly stale; what may have been meant as homage came off as repetition. I also never really connected with the main characters, and the secondary characters were generally very flat. I might have pardoned much of this if the book had been shorter, but the length of the book was problematic for me, too. J.K. Rowling, you know I love you. I don't begrudge the Harry Potter books their length (well, maybe a few pages of the Endless Camping in Deathly Hallows), but you opened the door for authors of juvenile fantasy to inflict mercilessly long books upon the reading public.

I don't see myself reading additional books in this series. One redeeming factor: though there were a few hints of things that might crop up in upcoming books, the loose ends were generally tied off neatly (sometimes a bit too neatly, but I'm trying to avoid blatant spoilers, so that's all I'll say about that). If you're looking for a recently published middle-grade book with fantasy in a woodland setting, let me recommend instead Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu, one of my favorite books from last year.

(Reviewed from a copy borrowed through my library system.)

No comments:

Post a Comment