Gripping cover art with a mysterious and catchy phrase? ✓
Main character with a clearly defined purpose and an untra-cool name? ✓
Potential for further exploration of the characters beyond the confines of this story? ✓✓✓
The Wood by Chelsea Bobulski (Feiwel & Friends-MacMillan) is everything I like about reading work by an unfamiliar author. The story drew me in almost immediately with the impression left by the first few chapters. The characters and their story developed at a great pace, just enough to keep me thinking I had them figured out until – Bam! – a new nugget of information wove its way into the narrative for me to chew over. (And I do like chewing, as evidenced by the snack stash on hand, as you can see!)
I love a book that not only occupies my mind while reading it, but also when I’m away tending to “real life.” I know a book is good when I find myself pondering over it while doing dishes, folding laundry, or other mundane daily tasks – chomping at the bit all the while to finish up already and get back to the story.
The main character, Winter, is just a wee girl who is being mentored by her father to become a Guardian of The Wood as the story opens and follows her as the world is turned upside down when her father disappears. His sudden removal from her world propels her on a path of discovery to find out what happened that is as unavoidable as is her destiny to be a Guardian in the first place.
It has a little bit of everything a good story should have, in my opinion. Intrigue and suspense, trust and betrayal, family issues and a dash of danger. Winter is truly learning on-the-job in a trial by fire/pass or fail kind of way that makes me feel the terrible weight of every decision with which she is faced or new piece of information she uncovers. As I raced through the pages to see how she would make out in the end, it was a trial (for me) to keep from biting my nails in anticipation.
By the end of the tale Winter has experienced a growth that makes the main character a wiser and more mature person. The book comes to a place of closure that is satisfying yet leaves the door open for further exploration, as well. It would be a lot of fun to see what other adventures await Winter as she ages and matures into her heritage.
Pardon the hard right here, but I’d like to comment on the genre — just my own perceptions, understand. When I was actually a young adult, young adult fiction had a decidedly childish feel to it. I never grew to love it, preferring instead more mature reading materials such as classics from Jane Austen, Edgar Allen Poe, or John Steinbeck and fiction from Stephen King, John Grisham, and the Reader’s Digest book collection that my mom had in her bookshelf. This more mature type of novel had more heft, fleshed out characters and life situations to a much deeper level that I craved and that fed my soul.
I feel like YA novels that are published now have much more complex plot lines, better character development, and all around better writing. I really like the idea that young people can have more interesting and varied subject matter to read in the fiction genre than was available when I was younger. This is not my first foray into the YA fiction genre and it definitely won’t be my last. I may not be considered a young adult anymore, statistically speaking, but I’m always young at heart and I think that’s infinitely more important!
An enchanted wood poisoned at the roots. A girl bound by an inherited duty. And the lost traveler from another time who might help her uncover the truth.
From debut author, Chelsea Bobulski comes The Wood, a YA novel filled with dark mystery and atmospheric fantasy.
Winter didn’t ask to be the guardian of the wood, but when her dad inexplicably vanishes, she’s the one who must protect travelers who accidentally slip through the wood’s portals.
The wood is poisoned, changing into something more sinister. Once brightly colored leaves are now bubbling inky black. Vicious creatures that live in the shadows are becoming bolder, torturing lost travelers. Winter must now put her trust in Henry—a young man from eighteenth century England who knows more than he should about the wood—in order to find the truth and those they’ve lost.
Bobulski’s beautiful and eerie young adult debut, is a haunting tale of friendship, family, and the responsibilities we choose and those we do not.
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What do you look for in a YA fiction novel (either for yourself or for your children)?
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