This summer, I read the first trilogy I’ve finished since The Hunger Games, and I loved every minute of it. Unlike a lot of recent popular YA series, The Wildwood Chronicles* isn’t a romance, nor a dystopian thriller, it’s the story of an adventurous young girl (and a whole host of secondary characters), set in a magical wilderness in the heart of Portland where multiple interrelated storylines run together to tell one epic tale. I realize that makes it sound like the perfect book for precocious tweens,(and it pretty much is), but, as an adult reader, I loved it too.
Colin Meloy, also known as lead singer and song-writer for English-major favs, The Decemberists, wrote the series, and it features milieus that will be familiar to any Decemberists fan including (but not limited to): bandits, pirates, revenge, crime and punishment, shape-shifting woodland creatures, sea shanties, lost love, dying children, pacts with evil/supernatural forces, political uprisings, nature imagery, orphans, tragic heroes, and magic spells.
If that wasn’t enough for you, here’s a list of things I loved about this series:
- Fast-paced, plot-driven story.
- Imaginative, richly descriptive writing.
- A focus on friendship, cunning, and courage (Sound familiar, fans of another series?)
- Humor (Lots of asides for adult readers to pick up on; For example, I loved the nods to Portland’s well-known hipster culture – in one of the first scenes, our main character Prue rides her bike to shop for vinyl and nosh on veggie tacos.)
- Beautiful illustrations by Carson Ellis, including several full-color plates in each book (Despite generally being a big fan of audiobooks and ebooks, I think the illustrations make a pretty good case for reading this in traditional print format).
- One of the heroes is a talking circus bear with hooks for hands.
If you decide to spend some time in Wildwood, I hope you find it as whimsical and gratifying as I did.
*The order of the series is: