Wildwood, by Colin Meloy
Prue McKeel is a 12 year old girl from, Portland, a small town across the ravine from Wildwood, known to her townspeople as the Impassable Wilderness, due to its inhabitability, dangerous creatures and overall wildness. One Saturday morning Prue is playing with her baby brother, Mac, at the playground, when he is suddenly and inexplicably carried off by a murder of crows into Wildwood. Prue follows him as far as she can, but quickly realizes she has lost Mac to the crows.
Formulating a plan, Prue gathers supplies and goes into Wildwood with Curtis, a classmate, to rescue Mac. Once they enter the woods, they meet the animals and people that live in the different neighbourhoods of the woods. Prue and Curtis become separated and they discover that not everyone is as they appear. In these woods lies good and evil and a history that has divided the woods, causing wars and political upheaval that is unresolved.
As outsiders, Curtis and Prue each become involved with different factions - the Mystics, the Coyotes, the Bandits, and the Dowager Governess to name a few, as they struggle to learn the whereabouts of Mac and enlist the help of people and animals they meet to rescue him.
Wildwood is the first in the trilogy of the Wildwood Chronicles and sets the stage for other adventures involving Prue and Curtis. This volume can be a bit daunting at 541 pages and it uses a lot of uncommon vocabulary, but this only adds to its descriptive writing and its fantastical setting.
This book, intended for middle graders, is worth the journey into Wildwood, it does not move quickly, but there is a lot going on that is all explained and nothing is taken for granted.