By Colin Meloy
How five crows managed to lift a twenty-five pound baby boy into the air was beyond Prue, but that was certainly the least of her worries.
On the side of every Portland, Oregon map is a forest labeled I.W. Everyone knows what that stands for: the Impassable Wilderness, the area of Portland that was never settled. Even though Prue had never thought of approaching the Impassbale Wilderness, she sees no other choice than to do just that when her brother is abducted by a murder of crows and taken to the woods. With a schoolmate following eagerly in her wake, Prue sets off on her rescue mission. Upon entering the woods, she finds a totally different world with talking animals, a coyote army, bandits, magic, and a society on the brink of war and reconstruction. All it takes it the appearance of two “Outsiders” to light the fire.
This book turned me into a procrastinator. I pretty literally could not put the book down. The thing I really love about this book though, above the technical stuff and the illustrations, is the feeling of being a little kid. It’s that kind of adventure that kids often read about, those big, fantastic, impossible, adventures that feels so real and so close. That’s what I love. Apart from that, I the characters were fairly interesting. Honestly, they only truly developed in the last half of the book, but still. I really love the way that Mr. Meloy constructed the Woods in my mind and the way that I could actually understand the dynamics of each society, from the Avian Principality to North Wood, which is something that I don’t always have a grasp on in fantasy books.
Story aside, could I just talk about how fantastic the illustrations are? They are fantastic. I would skip ahead several pages so I could see the next illustration, leading to me figuring out the ending before reaching it. But ah well. There are six full color pictures and a billion little black and white pictures that only add to the fantasy and the wonder of the book. And no matter how I try, I can’t quite get the style down. Sigh. Now for a little factoid: Carson Ellis, the illustrator, also illustrated the Mysterious Benedict Society, another fantastic book.
Overall, I was mesmerized and now I have to go back and catch up on the studying I missed.
As she walked, she breathed a quick benediction to the patron saint of sleuthing.
“Nancy Drew,” she whispered, “be with me now.”
“There’s as much benefit to wishing the world away as there is in demanding a bud to bloom,” responded Iphigenia as she patted Prue’s hand gently. “It’s better to live presently. By living thus, perhaps we can learn to understand the nature of this fragile coexistence we share with the world around us.”
Something Cool About the Author
He’s the lead singer of the Decemberists, which is an amazing band. How many bands do you know have an author as the lead singer? Reciprocally, how many authors can you think of are also in awesome bands?
How Do You Like the Cover?
How do you think? It was the cover that made me pick it up and it is the cover that made me pause several times to stare at it. I love the cover. I love the intricacies and I love how it gathers meaning as the story progresses and I love it.