Friday, June 7, 2013

Fiction Friday (Wildwood Edition II)

A few months ago, I finally took a trip into Colin Meloy's Wildwood and was more than just a blown away. Days after finishing the last page, I found myself making a trip to the book store to pick up Book 2 and dove right in shortly after that. The second book is another hefty 550+ pages, yet it still flew by. As I mentioned in my review of the first book, this story has been instrumental in getting me to pull out an old middle grade manuscript of mine and work on it. For a writer, those are the best books, the ones that inspire with their greatness without intimidating you into silence.

Under Wildwood by Colin Meloy
(HarperCollins 2012)

Picking up several months after Wildwood left off, we find Prue restless in her return to normal life outside the Impassable Wilderness while Curtis is excelling in his bandit training, unaware of the troubles he's caused for the family he left behind. When his parents head off to search for him, they have no choice but to leave his two sisters in the Unthank Home for orphans, setting off a series of hardships for them that could have come straight out of a Roald Dahl novel.

But all is not well in the The Wood either as a group of cunning shape-shifting assassins have sought out all those responsible for the recent Bicycle Coup. It isn't long before they track down Prue, forcing her to return to The Wood for her own safety. She soon discovers that her work there is far from done. Her ability to communicate with the plants strengthens and they reveal to her a new mission to bring unity to the divided land. In order to do that, her and Curtis must venture into the sprawling caves that exist under Wildwood.

Meanwhile, Elsie and Rachel, Curtis's two unfortunate sisters, learn that the Unthank Home isn't an orphanage at all, but rather a place where the heartless industrialist, Mr. Unthank, uses the children to work the machines in his factory. But his true agenda is the conquest of The Wood, and he uses the children in his experiments to pass through the Periphery Bind designed to keep intruders out.

Over the course of this epic tale, the various stories weave together, revealing a larger plot and highlighting the difficulties Prue and Curtis must face if they are ever to save the place they've grown to love. Once again, Colin Meloy shows off his storytelling skills, building and revealing key elements at pitch perfect pace. He's created the kind of fictional world that once you enter, you never want to leave. Even at its massive length, it seems to go by too quickly and I found myself reading slower in order to avoid getting to the end. The fact that the story leaves off suddenly, only made it worse. Waiting for the third book in order to know the conclusion is going to be blissful torture.

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