I didn’t intend to read the book straight away. It was described as America’s ‘Narnia’. I hadn’t ever read any of the that esteemed series and I’d already earmarked a local great’s latest as next on my list. ‘Wildwood’ was with a number of tomes my beautiful daughter had handed over to me in the expectation that I would enjoy them. I usually did, but ‘Wildwood’, on initial appearances, didn’t appear to be my thing. Besides, it was hardly newly published, dating from 2011. As well, it was long. Anything over 500 pages, for me, is long. It would take me forever to get through. Nup, it looked suspiciously like a non-starter.
Meanwhile, Katie had also been telling me about a new, to her, band she had discovered that she also thought I’d enjoy – the Decemberists. And I did, when she sent me a link to them. She informed me that the lead singer, Colin Meloy, was also quite the wordsmith, as songwriters have to be. He had also tried his hand at writing novels and had had a few published. She was currently reading one and would pass it on when she had completed it. Initially I didn’t make the connection when she handed it over, in amongst a collection of other tomes, further down the track.
So I put ‘Wildwood’ aside, thinking maybe I’d get to it one day, when I’d finished some more pressing titles.
Last week I was about to start the Winton, but beforehand had a look at Katie’s pile. Flipping through ‘Wildwood’, I was struck by the illustrations it contained – retro gorgeousness. They were akin to something from my own childhood. When I sought out information about the illustrator, Carson Ellis, turns out she is the author’s wife. Then the penny dropped. That guy was the Decemberists’ front man. Well that was worth reading the first few pages for. I’d get a feel for it before tackling ‘The Shepherd’s Hut’. Then I was hooked, wasn’t I? Tim W would have to wait.
I did enjoy ‘Wildwood’ very much. It was a real page turner and I was through it in less than a week. Good going for me. Meloy has struck the right chord (hum) with a style suited to his target audience. The tweenies, I suspect, would immediately be attracted to it. He doesn’t pander to them – he sets challenges as far as the language he chooses is concerned. It also had this ancient adult enthralled. It was a lively narrative of daring-do in an alternate world where animals can talk and live on equal terms with the human inhabitants. Eagles and owls, to my delight, play a prominent part. Our lead girl, Prue McKee (adore the name), is a feisty construction from Meloy. She is determined to save her baby brother from evil forces after he had been stolen from our world by a murder of crows. I was particularly drawn to Prue’s offsider, Curtis, who found himself embroiled in the girl’s adventures all because he indulged in a bit of harmless stalking. He’s a real nerd hero.
It’s a wonderful collection of principalities invented for us in the Impossible Wilderness. Katie, you handed me a ripper. Thank you.
The Wildwood Chronicles’ site = http://www.wildwoodchronicles.com/