Sunday, May 5, 2013
By: Colin Meloy
What would you do if your baby brother was abducted by a murder of crows and carried into the Impassable Wilderness, a swath of forest so thick that any who venture into it are neither seen nor heard from again? Why, you’d go after him, of course! But not before stopping to think, misleading your parents, gathering some supplies, and allowing a slightly annoying yet noble and determined classmate to tag along. So it is that Prue McKeel and Curtis Mehlberg of Portland, Oregon embark upon a rescue mission armed with nothing more than a Swiss army knife, a bag of gorp, a “Bear-Be-Gone” air horn, and an overdue library book, the Sibley Guide to Birds. What Prue and Curtis discover is their own mysterious connection to a complex otherworld snugly ensconced within our own, 21st-century landscape. Wildwood, which features walking, talking, and in some cases impeccably dressed fauna (and some surprising flora), owes a great debt to C.S. Lewis’s Narnia. Yet story and characters are so richly imagined (and beautifully illustrated) through a contemporary North American lens that this tale feels wildly original. After crossing into Wildwood, Curtis and Prue are separated and placed on opposite sides of a civil war. Separately, they must navigate thickets of allegiances to find not only Prue’s baby brother, but also the answer to the question of why they alone can breach the barrier that separates Wildwood from the outside world. As the adventure comes to a climax, the story confronts a question common to all dual-world fantasy, yet rarely answered: why not simply stay in the magical otherworld? Why return to school and parents and the humdrum, workaday world? The answer to this question will send readers reaching for the next book in the series, Under Wildwood. Happy reading!