Genre: middle grade talking animal realistic fantasy
Length: 560 pages, nearly 16 hours of audio
Setting: near Portland, Oregon, present day
Interest: I’ve seen the book recommended a couple of places as a good book. I was looking for an audiobook to listen to for a 14-hour round trip to Philadelphia (yet another gymnastics meet) and this was the right length.
Summary: Twelve-year old Prue is watching her brother, Mack, in the park one day when a murder of crows flies into the park and carries him off into the nearby deep woods. Prue isn’t supposed to go into Wildwood, but she has to rescue her brother. She’s followed by a classmate, Curtis. Once in the woods, the kids discover a group of talking coyote soldiers. Curtis is captured by the coyotes and taken back to the warren. There, he meets the Alexandra, Dowager Governess, and becomes part of her army. Once Curtis realizes Alexandra wants to sacrifice Mack to wake the ivy and overrun all of Wildwood with the ivy, he tries to leave the army. That gets him thrown into prison, where he gets involved with some bandits. Prue gets picked up by the mailman of Wildwood, who takes her to Southwood. There, she asks for help in finding Mack, but ends up imprisoned for being an Outlander. The Avians help her escape and she heads back home. There, she learns the truth about her and Mack’s births (and why she didn’t get lost trying to enter the woods). She heads back to Wildwood to rescue Mack, enlisting the help of the Northwooders and the Bandits. There’s an epic battle between the Northwood Irregulars and the Dowager Governess’s forces to save Mack and the forest from the ivy.
Final thoughts: I’m kind of disappointed we listened to this book instead of reading it, because there’s supposed to be some impressive illustrations in the book. Also, I found the reader, Amanda Plummer, to be annoying. She made several vocal choices in her reading that pulled me out of the story every time she did them. Even so we enjoyed the book.
There’s lots of fantasy tropes in the story – a stolen child, a secret magic kingdom in the midst of ours, a crazy leader bent on revenge, talking animals, battles in the woods, and good triumphing over evil. The Dowager Governess was a great villain. She was so persuasive in her arguments, until you kept talking to her and learned that everything she was doing was based on craziness. Prue was determined to get her brother back, with or without anyone’s help. Luckily, she eventually found some people willing to help, although her parents pretty much gave up without even trying.
Title comes from: The setting of the book, which was descriptive of the location
Reading challenges fulfilled: #24 in my Maybe 100 This Year Challenge
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