Top critical review
Disappointing on so many levels
February 22, 2014
I have to agree with all the unfavorable reviews here. This book is tedious, badly written and just plain boring. What is disappointing here is that at the heart of its (way too many) pages you can detect an interesting and original plot, that a better writer, or perhaps even the same writer equipped with a more determined editor, could have crafted into a beautiful story.
The book begins with a lot of promise - a child is taken by a bunch of ominous crows to a mysterious place, just outside of town and yet unknown and forbidden to all. His older sister embarks on a rescue mission and goes after him to discover the unknown and enchanted realm of wildwood. An intriguing beginning but unfortunately, not enough time and thought was put in creating the wildwood "universe". In similar works of literature which will be depicting a fictional, fantasy world different than our own, we are mostly attracted to find out more about that world. Think the Narnia books, think middle earth, think "his dark materias" : how beautiful, complex and whole those universes are. Here, Meloy tried to create his own universe of wildwood but could not really decide on what it should be, and what are the "rules" governing this world. We have a lot of rivalry between certain groups in wildwood, but it's not very clear why. Magic keeps the wildwood as impassable and forbidden to all outsiders, but there is little evidence that any one inside wildwood is practicing magic or knows anything about it. and when we are introduces to the ONE PERSON who does wield dark magic and we think we might get to the juicy parts at last, that part is surprisingly short as if the writer is not particularly interested in it.
Another thing that really sticks out like a sore thumb, and annoyed me personally, is the hipster vibe of Prue and her family in Portland. Prue eats her cereal with rice milk, frequents quaint book stores and coffee shops at the tender age of 13, and finally - her mother knits obsessively. I don't mind hipsters but that kind of vibe so doesn't belong in the Victorian atmosphere of wildwood, nothing in it contributes anything to the story or to the character of Prue, it just reeks of an attempt to appeal to the "right kind of crowd".
I wanted to like the book, and bought it despite 1 and 2 stars reviews here, but I realise they were absolutely right.
P.S. I gave it 2 stars and not one because the illustrations are VERY beautiful