Saturday, July 1, 2017

Book Review: Where the Woods Grow Wild (Nate Philbrick)


The woods are no place to be wandering alone. But when Martin loses his hand to something in the woods, he and his best friend Elodie are plunged into a world among the trees he didn’t realize was there.

I really enjoyed this book. It has the whimsy of, like… Alice in Wonderland and Narnia, maybe? Martin and Elodie step into a world mere yards (give or take?) from their normal lives. The plot takes us through Martin’s and Elodie’s attempts to find each other after being separated, and the incidents that come along with it. The characters are taken all over the forest, and things seem to just get worse instead of better, thus rising tension and a feeling that time is running out.

The worldbuilding was really neat. The wood is its own world, apart from Bardun Village where Martin and Elodie come from. It has its own array of flora and fauna, and you have to be careful where you go. It’s not a place to be taken lightly, and it has its own lore about a mysterious and powerful shape-shifter called Nayadu, who is feared by the inhabitants of the woods.

There isn’t really a specific antagonist (none I can mention without being spoilery, anyway), but there were plenty of things to get in the way of the characters. The king of the dryads was a bit crazy, and has a bit of magic that made him a little intimidating too. There was also the difficulty of Martin’s search for Elodie, and always seeming to be one step behind her. And there’s also the problem of his maimed arm… ;)

Speaking of, I liked Martin’s arc. It was simple, and didn’t manifest itself often, but his struggles grew as his problems grew, until it, like his problems, kind of… overcame him. It all snowballs until he’s not able to handle it well, which is where Elodie comes into play. She doesn’t really have an arc (that I’m aware of), but she’s more a grounding point for Martin, which is something he desperately needs after his world is violently shaken up. The pair of them are still so young and innocent, but they need each other. :3 I liked seeing their relationship and how it changes with them.

The cast of characters are colorful and charming in their own ways, with a vast array of personalities and quirks that make them so fun to read. And it was interesting, that they all seemed to change in little ways, even if they didn’t have much of an arc. Martin and Elodie touched the lives of many. ;)

Also, I hadn’t noticed it when I beta read WTWGW, but when I reread it now and knew in advance about the plot twists, I found a really feelsy parallel between two of the characters and their development (I won’t say who, because spoilers. You’ll have to find out!), and I really liked that. :3

All of the characters were charming and fun and colorful, but, I think, I’ll always have a soft spot for Bramble. XD He took my heart the second he hit the page the first time I read this book, and rereading now refreshed my life for this furry creature who speaks in third person. X3

That is all. XD

****

Violence/gore: There is some violence, but it’s not very unsettling. There are fight scenes with certain nasty creatures that get a little bloody, but it and any wounds aren’t detailed.

Profanity: None.

Sexual content: None.

Other: Nothing else that I can think of… Elodie tells a fib or two in Bardun Village to get Martin away from work for a while, and steals a ring from the Mayor’s house, but otherwise, nothing of much note.

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