Under Wildwood by Colin Meloy

Under Wildwood: The Wildwood Chronicles,…Under Wildwood by Colin Meloy
Age: 10+ up
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Library
Publisher: Harper Collins Childrens, 2012
ISBN: 97800062024718 / 559 pages
Find this book at your local library

After having safely returned her baby brother out of the Impassable Wilderness, Prue is having trouble getting back into her normal life in Portland. Curtis stayed behind in the woods, and Prue keeps daydreaming and skipping class to go revisit the woods. She does, until she is attacked by a kitsune (a wolf who can transform into any other creature). Saved by her friends from the Woods, Prue is swiftly taken into hiding in the woods as she tries to solve the mystery of a series of assassinations and the reanimation of a once famous heir.

Underwood, the first in the trilogy, I thoroughly enjoyed. It was a breath of fresh air in children’s literature. Well written, with a unique point of view and full interesting characters. As much as I want to, I can’t say the same for Under Wildwood. It is the second book in the trilogy, so I think it fell victim to being a transitional book. I still have every intention of reading the third book in the series though. It wasn’t a bad book, it just wasn’t as captivating as the first. There are also a number of loose ends at the end of the book, which I am hoping will be resolved in the third.

Prue’s journey is quite boring in this novel. There were many times when I wish chapters were cropped. Not enough attention was given to the thinly written Mr. Unthank and his orphanage/child labor camp. The villans, although amusing, weren’t the most original. There is bland Unthank, the mechanical industrialist and him Ukrainian former-actress girlfriend. My standard for evil in children’s literature is Lemony Snicket’s Count Olaf, and its pretty tough to beat him. Unthank is not nearly as threatening, as evil or as manipulative as the Dowager Empress from the first Underwood book.

The storylines throughout this novel were not very original either. Much of the middling section didn’t really further along the story, but it did let Meloy further enhance the setting of Wildwood, particularly its underground roads and inhabitants. Prue was more annoying than adventurous in this novel, and I wish that Meloy spent more time focusing on Elsie and Rachel (Curtis’ sisters who fall into the hands of Mr. Unthank). Although their unfortunate series of events were also predictable.

Meloy infuses these books with a lot of contemporary issues. Touch economic times through the Woods, the wealthy, consumerist society trying to take over, Unthank’s 1% Journal and meeting of the titans of industry. Meloy also injects a bit more of Portland into this second novel, which local residents will appreciate.

For all its faults, I did actually enjoy this book, and I think most kids will probably overlook, or just not care for the faults that I found.

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