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Down the Mysterly River Hardcover – September 13, 2011


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 18 years
  • Lexile Measure: 1040L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Starscape; First Edition edition (September 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765327929
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765327925
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.2 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #875,960 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Eisner-winning comics creator Willingham (the Fables series) makes his middle-grade debut with an action-packed and often touching novel...that explores the nature of characters and authorship…The end result is a stellar example of a novel working both as an adventure tale and as metafiction. (Starred review, Publishers Weekly on the works of Bill Willingham)

Willingham's Fables comics tapped into the deep fairy-tale structures in my psyche and never let go. Now, Down the Mysterly River finally delivers the same opportunity for younger readers. Lucky them! (Cory Doctorow, New York Times bestselling author of Little Brother on the works of Bill Willingham)

From the Publisher

In his Heroes Wood, Bill Willingham has created an enchanting new land of magic and adventure that might lie just down the river from Toad Hall, down the road from Narnia, or over the hill from the Hundred Acre Wood. Willingham gives us deadly sword fights, narrow escapes, lethal traps, surprising betrayals, and all of the other necessary elements of a thrilling adventure tale. But at its heart this is also a mystery story, and if the four fugitives can’t first solve the mystery of the Heroes Wood they may never live to reach sanctuary. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

This was a highly enjoyable young adult book about adventure, talking animals and being who you want to be.
Amazon Customer
In any case, Willingham's children's fantasy, Down the Mysterly River, is an exciting adventure story with a wonderful mixture of fairy tale and detective mystery.
S. Duke
Enough to leave you guessing, or to allow a better detective to figure out the mystery, which is tied up very nicely at the end of the story.
Shanella

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By David Keymer TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"Max the Wolf was a wolf in exactly the same way that foothills are made up of real feet and a tiger shark is part tiger, which is to say, not at all. Max was in fact a boy, between twelve and thirteen years old, and entirely human. He was dressed in a Boy Scout uniform."

Thus begins the adventures of Max the Wolf, not a wolf at all, as the author clarifies at the beginning of this book, but an earnest, resourceful young Boy Scout, who is prepared for every eventuality and always carries in his pockets his Lost Kit -"a dozen strike-anywhere matches, a candle, a roll of fishing line with two hooks, a few bandages in sterile wrappings, and a needle and thread," with a length of twine wrapped tightly around the outside of the watertight package- and trusty Boy Scout knife.

The story Willingham narrates is utterly charming. I use the word "charming" in both senses: what happens in this small scale odyssey is both charming to read and seems, somehow, to have come about through some kind of magical charm, certainly not through any form of ordinary Boy Scout logic. Max finds himself in a forest where the animals, even a tree, talk back to him, and he has no memory how he got there. He gains companions: a badger who boasts a lot but is ferocious in battle, a brown bear who is easily distracted by the prospect of food of any kind, and a foul-tempered old tomcat with one eye missing, raggle-taggle fur and scars decorating his body. Pursuing them are the Blue Cutters, equipped with magical swords that do terrible things to the creatures they are used on.

There are a few early passages in the book that struck this reviewer as just on the edge of being cute, perhaps imitative of Tolkien's The Hobbit.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Brian Clopper on June 20, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book in under 3 days. It's a marvelous fantasy with a bigger message on creativity. I encourage any who dreamed of putting pen to paper and writing a novel to pick up "Mysterly." You'll love the sheer joy that shines through as the writer crafts his tale. It's rare to see an author show such affection toward his gifted characters.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Georgia Mom VINE VOICE on August 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book has an interesting premise (spoiler alert). Max the Wolf is a boyscout who wakes up in a seemingly familar but unknown place, with only certain memories. He meets up with a few talking animals who become his friends. He and his pals are being hunted by people called Blue Cutters. These Blue Cutters carry big swords that have the ability to cut their victims into new creatures/people for no apparent reason. The new friends discover they must get to one of the Wizards lands to be safe from the cutters and so the we begin a story of adventure that kept my 9 year old son thoroughly engaged. In the end three of the 4 friends makes it safely to the Wizards land to discover the Wizard is just the writer of max the Wolf stories, who has died. The writers death meant that his characters come over to this new land and now can experience free will. I thought the whole premise was unique but also a bit stretched, however my son bought into it completely and loved it. It also inspired a desire in him to want to read the original books the characters came from (and they are from other writer's books).
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Haslett on January 6, 2003
Format: Paperback
While the publisher's summary may make it sound like a children's book, I have discovered that its adventures are as exciting as they are thought-provoking. Every page fills the reader with questions. And every time a question is answered, more rise up to fill its place. While young readers will surely enjoy the adventure, older readers will enjoy its deeply probing questions of life, freedom and originality.
I bought this book after reading Bill's comic series Fables, and I'm glad I did. If anyone enjoys this book, then you will enjoy Fables (or vice versa). The first 5 issues have been collecting into a trade paperback called Fables: Legends in Exile, which can also be found on amazon. Coincidently, this first story arc is a murder mystery.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ars Legendi on December 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I admit, I got turned off by the political overtones of the book's dedication. Which, of course, led to a brief foray into researching Willingham's politics, and that's exactly the sort of dangerous nonsense that forever ruined Orson Scott Card's work for me. Since I enjoyed reading Willingham's Fables comic so much, though, I let all of that go and successfully called upon my librarian superpower of bias-free reading. I ended up being a little unimpressed, personally, but I think this would be perfect for middle-grade readers.

This is a fairly standard adventure tale, with a couple of added perks: it has a nicely crafted fantasy element, and a metafictional twist that felt a bit clumsy but is still extremely clever. The talking animals are by far the best characters; I'd read an entire book about McTavish. Once I was able to dismiss the ham-fisted political overtones in the villains, I found them chilling and fascinating. The story is put together well, and the ending is extraordinarily moving and satisfying. Things get surprisingly violent during the action scenes, considering the juvenile and light-hearted tone of the rest of the book, but Willingham obviously does this on purpose. After all, the whole point of the story is the resourcefulness of a determined boy in the face of the unknown, and the spiritual dangers of Bowdlerizing. Besides, what is a good adventure yarn without some blood, guts, and danger?

But that leads in to the biggest problem I had with the book, which is Willingham's tendency to over-explain. He trusts his young readers with the content and the message, but he doesn't seem to trust that they will pick up the subtext, and thus he places unnecessary elaboration all over the narration.
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More About the Author

Bill Willingham never fought a desperate and losing battle in a good cause, never contributed to society in a meaningful way, and hasn't lived a life of adventure, but he's had a few moments of near adventure. At some point in his life Bill learned how to get paid for telling scurrilous lies to good people, and he's been doing it ever since. He lives in the wild and frosty woods of Minnesota.

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