Summary and book reviews of Wildwood by Colin Meloy

Wildwood
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    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Aug 2011,
    560 pages.
    Paperback: Sep 2012,
    576 pages.

    Publication Information

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Book Reviewed by:
Tamara Smith

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Book Summary

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.

c h a p t e r 2
One City’s
Impassable Wilderness

As long as Prue could remember, every map she had ever seen of Portland and the surrounding countryside had been blotted with a large, dark green patch in the center, stretching like a growth of moss from the northwest corner to the southwest, and labeled with the mysterious initials “I.W.” She hadn’t thought to ask about it until one night, before Mac was born, when she was sitting with her parents in the living room. Her dad had brought home a new atlas and they were lying in the recliner together, leafing through the pages and tracing their fingers over boundary lines and sounding out the exotic place names of far-flung countries. When they arrived at a map of Oregon, Prue pointed to the small, inset map of Portland on the page and asked the question that had always confounded her:

“What’s the I.W.?”

“Nothing, honey,” had been her father’s reply. He flipped back to the map...

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Reviews

BookBrowse

Part of the unique and successful structure of Wildwood comes from Colin Meloy's ability to bring these fantastical elements together with the recognizable foundation of Portland, Oregon and its wild—but very real—Forest Park. This highly creative story and firmly grounded landscape, combined with a familiar culture of bureaucratic red tape and politics-as-usual, creates a remarkable debut, one that speaks to—and about—our present state of affairs, as well as our wildest imaginations.   (Reviewed by Tamara Smith).

Full Review Members Only (970 words).

Media Reviews
Publishers Weekly

Without a good side to cheer for...the story lacks a strong emotional center, and its preoccupations with bureaucracy, protocol, and gray-shaded moral dilemmas, coupled with the book's length, make this slow going. Ages 8 12.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. A satisfying blend of fantasy, adventure story, eco-fable and political satire with broad appeal; especially recommended for preteen boys. Ages 10+

School Library Journal

Ellis's illustrations perfectly capture the original world and contribute to the feel of an instant timeless classic. Further adventures in Wildwood cannot come quickly enough.

VOYA

While Wildwood is the rare fantasy novel that acts as a stand-alone story, readers will be clamoring for the next installment in this proposed series.

Author Blurb Michael Chabon
Dark and whimsical, with a true and uncanny sense of otherworldliness, Wildwood is the heir to a great tradition of stories of wild childhood adventure. It snatched me up and carried me off into a world I didn’t want to leave.

Author Blurb Trenton Lee Stewart, New York Times bestselling author of The Mysterious Benedict Society
Wildwood is an irresistible, atmospheric adventure - richly imagined and richly rewarding.

Author Blurb Lemony Snicket
This book is like the wild, strange forest it describes. It is full of suspense and danger and frightening things the world has never seen, and once I stepped inside I never wanted to leave.

Reader Reviews
Meg

Fantasy
I personally think that this book was over the top with fantasy. If you like maximum fantasy, you will like this. If you are not interested in things such as: crows stealing your brother, talking wolves dressed as soldiers, and postmen taking you in ...   Read More

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The Team of Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis

Husband and wife Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis live in a neighborhood in Forest Park, a 5000 acre northwestern wilderness on the edge of Portland, Oregon. To Colin and Carson, who spend hours and hours walking through the forest, it feels like its own country, vastly different from, yet so close to, the city. This is the inspirational landscape for Wildwood. In fact, when Colin and Carson began working in earnest on the Wildwood series, they began with a map that Carson drew of Forest Park, and from there their imaginations soared.

They have been brewing the world of Wildwood for a while. "The germ of this series goes back a long way," Meloy says. "For me, this is the culmination of a long-term collaboration with Carson, ...

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