“Dad tells me the wood is not a place to play. It is a place for business, and it is more powerful than I could ever imagine. He tells me I cannot forget the rules of the wood. There are three.
Do not travel from the paths.
Do not linger after dark.
Do not ignore the calling.”
Winter’s family has long been tasked with guarding The Wood, a magical piece of forestry behind her house that appears normal to non-Guardians… but for Guardians, it is a dangerous, living, breathing place, full of thresholds and doorways to other times and places. The Guardians are given the responsibility of monitoring the wood and ensuring that no wanderers get trapped in it after accidental threshold crossings. After all, the wood after dark is a wicked and hungry place.
When Winter’s father disappears mysteriously, the job falls to her, but nothing he told her could have prepared her for the day when a boy showed up intentionally, and refused to go home. She knows she should force him to leave, but he might be connected to her father… Wouldn’t you give anything to save the one you loved if you could?
WHAT I LIKED ➳➳
This book is beautiful. It somehow manages to perfectly balance being dark, yet whimsical, and Chelsea’s writing is light and enjoyable. I found myself wishing the wood was a real place that I could visit (during the daytime, of course), because it sounded so incredible. When dark falls, it turns into a vicious and terrifying place full of creatures that would strike fear into anyone’s heart.
Winter is a really enjoyable and authentic MC, and Henry is such a fun friend and love interest. I loved their banter and his complete state of confusion over most of the modern world, as well as the very “real” feeling of Winter’s constant dilemma between getting close to him and keeping things on the surface. The only other characters we get to spend much time with are Winter’s mother – who is not very fleshed out, admittedly – and her “Uncle” Joe, who I found to be an enjoyable, albeit sketchy character from the first time we met him.
The entire plot is just really captivating and the setting is so beautiful that I found it pretty easy to lose myself in the story, and I was definitely rooting for Winter and Henry the whole way!
WHAT I DISLIKED ➳➳
Here’s the tough part. This book was actually a 5-star read for me, hands down, until about the 90% mark. I wish I was exaggerating. Rarely, I find a book that I adore until the ending, but the ending just ruins the whole thing for me. While the ending doesn’t ruin the whole story in this scenario, I would have been ecstatic for this story to have ended entirely differently. I won’t spoil anything, but the last few chapters felt so rushed; at one point, I actually felt like either Chelsea may have gotten tired of writing and was hurrying to finish, or was facing down a deadline? I’m no writer, so I never try to judge an author’s process, but I was just so… disappointed by the end of this book.
Please, though, don’t let this stop you from reading The Wood. The story was honestly so enjoyable that it was worth it.
FINAL VERDICT ➳➳
If you like dark, magical stories that mix a little fantasy, a little magical realism, and a bit of romance together, pick this one up. Chelsea really shone as a debut author, and I can’t wait to read more from her. If this book was a series starter, I would be first in line to pre-order the next title – sadly, however, Goodreads says it’s a stand-alone. If anyone has heard otherwise, LET ME KNOW! If that doesn’t tell you how much I wanted more of this story, I don’t know what will. Seriously, just ignore the fact that the ending might bum you out and go grab a copy when it comes out on August 1st!
Thank you so much to NetGalley and the lovely folks at Feiwel & Friends for granting me an ARC of this book! All of my opinions are entirely my own.
This book releases Aug 1, 2017.