Under Wildwood: The Wildwood Chronicles, Book 2 Book Poster Image

Under Wildwood: The Wildwood Chronicles, Book 2

Whimsical fantasy sequel falls short of original.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Under Wildwood is set in the environs of Portland, Ore., but the real-life area is treated as a fantasy land, featuring an Impassable Wilderness full of talking animals and wild magic.

Positive messages

Under Wildwood emphasizes bravery, loyalty, and resourcefulness and features young characters who risk everything to protect each other and the magical Woods.

Positive role models

Prue, Curtis, Rachel, and Elsie each find themselves in situations where they must put aside their own immediate concerns and fight to save others. Some of the dangers they face are fantastic -- a shape-shifting assassin, a battle in a city of moles -- but they also struggle with more mundane conflicts about loyalty and family.


Under Wildwood features a small amount of violence, which is usually described with a light touch and little graphic detail. Children battle wild animals, supernatural threats, and muscle-bound adults. Two older characters are victims of mutilation -- one had both hands cut off, one was blinded. An evil orphanage burns down.

Not applicable

Under Wildwood contains only some very minor cursing -- a couple of instances of "damned" or "damnedest."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Under Wildwood is the sequel to 2011's Wildwood, by Colin Meloy (lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter for the folk-rock band the Decemberists), and picks up the fanciful story without missing a beat. Young children are sent to an awful orphanage and forced to work in a factory, a lead character fights a supernatural assassin, children battle wild animals and muscle-bound adults, and two minor characters were physically mutilated before this story begins -- one had both hands cut off, one was blinded. But the level of danger in the story never rises to a point likely to upset anyone other than the most sensitive readers. And there's only minor cursing: a couple of instances of "damned" or "damnedest."

Kids say

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What's the story?

Although her friend Curtis Mehlberg is happy have stayed behind in the Impassable Wilderness to live with his bandit pals, Prue McKeel finds herself out of sorts as she tries to resume her life in Portland. She soon learns, however, that her life is in danger. Pursued by a relentless, shape-shifting assassin, she finds herself back in the Woods, just as one of her most treasured allies is destroyed. Meanwhile Curtis' sisters, Elsie and Rachel, are held at a strange orphanage and must devise a plan of escape.

Is it any good?


UNDER WILDWOOD is an inventive fantasy adventure that recaptures some, but not all, of the magic of its predecessor. Author Colin Meloy and illustrator Carson Ellis continue to emphasize the sly humor and generous spirit of the narrative. The action is split roughly in two, alternating between returning characters Prue and Curtis and new additions Elsie and Rachel. Unfortunately, the Prue and Curtis sections feel repetitive, while the Elsie and Rachel portions get bogged down in an unpleasant and not terribly gripping scenario. Things pick up as the two groups stumble toward each other, but Under Wildwood feels very much like the muddled middle volume of a trilogy.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the geography and history of places like Portland can be used as the building blocks for fantasy stories. Does it make the fantasy more interesting to be located in a real city?

  • How do you think Under Wildwood compares with the original Wildwood? Is it as exciting?

  • Would you be able to go off your own and live away from your parents and siblings for a great length of time? What kinds of resources would you need to survive and be happy?

Book details

Author:Colin Meloy
Illustrator:Carson Ellis
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Friendship, Wild animals
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Balzer + Bray
Publication date:September 25, 2012
Number of pages:576
Publisher's recommended age(s):9 - 12
Available on:Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

This review of Under Wildwood: The Wildwood Chronicles, Book 2 was written by

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Parent Written byRexKatWa December 1, 2012


You didn't mention the somewhat excessive use of tobacco, including a 17-year-old boy smoking a pipe on a regular basis. Not a biggie, but kind of out of place in a children's book, I thought.
What other families should know
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking