Sunday, September 24, 2017

Review: The Wood by Chelsea Bobulski

The Wood by Chelsea Bobulski
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Pub. Date: August 1, 2017
Genre: YA Contemporary Fantasy
Source/Format: Library/Hardcover

"Do not travel from the paths. Do not linger after dark. Do not ignore the calling." Winter Parish is a descendent of a long line of guardians, whose duty is to protect the mystical wood behind her family's home from wandering travelers––people who step through thresholds in time either by accident or with the intent to reach another time altogether. Without the guardians, these travelers are in danger of becoming lost in a time that is not their own, or worse, being consumed by the wood itself. Winter's father has been training her since she was ten to become the new guardian in the Parish family line, but when he mysteriously disappears, Winter is left alone to guard the wood, all the while agonizing over what could have happened to her father. Two years later, Henry, a young man from eighteenth-century England, appears in Winter's wood with one purpose: to travel through the time thresholds to uncover what happened to his own missing parents. When it becomes clear that the disappearance of Winter's father and Henry's parents may be connected, the two work together to find their loved ones and defeat the growing evil that plagues the wood.

The Wood is an interesting contemporary fantasy novel linking time travel with a fairy tale–esque magical forest. I did enjoy the characters, especially the relationship between Winter and Henry, although they definitely did not have the whirlwind, passion-fueled romance you see in most YA books of this sort. I especially liked and even laughed out loud at Henry's reactions to modern technology, clothing, lingo, etc. As far as plot goes, though, I was little ... bored. The story takes place over the course of only a few days––with some flashbacks to when Winter was a young guardian-in-training––and everything seems to wrap up a little too neatly, and the "villain" is defeated a little too easily. I would've also liked it if the book had gone deeper into the folklore and origin story of the wood and also the Old Ones, the fae-like creatures who help the guardians in their mission to keep the wood safe and prevent travelers from interfering with the space-time continuum. It felt like we were given just enough information to make that fantasy world plausible but not enough to really make it come alive. Maybe I'm just not used to the pace of standalone books anymore, considering the majority of the books I read now are part of longer series, which gives the author more time to expand the plot and drum up suspense. While I enjoyed parts The Wood, it's probably not a book I'll come back to or one that I'll be shoving in people's faces and demanding that they read.

I'm trying something a little different with my rating system this time around, so we'll see if it sticks! I got the idea from a book journal my mom got me for my birthday this year, which, in addition to giving you space to write down your thoughts about the book and favorite quotes, has a section where you can rank different aspects of the book. I've chosen the three that have the biggest influence over whether a book becomes an instant fave, is just okay, or doesn't click with me.

If you've read The Wood too, I'd love to hear what you thought of it!

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