Wildwood: The Wildwood Chronicles, Book 1 Book Poster Image

Wildwood: The Wildwood Chronicles, Book 1



Exciting enchanted forest adventure to save baby brother.

What parents need to know

Educational value

The fantasy elements are set atop the actual geography of Portland, OR, and the fauna of Wildwood are indigenous to that area.

Positive messages

Physical and emotional bravery are sometimes required in the face of great odds and terrible trials.

Positive role models

Prue and Curtis never give up their quest to save Mac, and Curtis stands by his oath to assist the bandits and their allies in defeating the villain.


Humans and animals fight each other with guns, swords, arrows, and handmade weapons, and the results are realistically, though not bloodily, depicted. An infant is in constant mortal jeopardy, although he is not shown to be physically harmed. Most readers over 9 will be able to handle the level of violence.


The two main characters share an awkward hug.

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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Wildwood, written by the lead singer and songwriter of the Portland, OR, rock band the Decemberists, follows the adventures of a brave pair of children as they face magic and armed combat in a fantasy world. The stakes are high and not every character fares well in the end, but the rewards of the tale well outweigh any drawbacks. Humans and animals fight each other with guns, swords, arrows, and handmade weapons, and the results are realistically, though not bloodily, depicted. An infant is in constant mortal jeopardy, although he is not shown to be physically harmed.

What's the story?

When her baby brother, Mac, is carried away by a flock of crows, seventh grader Prue McKeel embarks on a rescue mission that takes her away from her familiar Portland, OR, neighborhood and into the Impassable Wilderness. Accompanied by Curtis, a socially awkward schoolmate, Prue explores a strange land where gun-wielding coyotes, battle-ready bandits, intrepid forest creatures, and peaceable mystics all react to the machinations of the evil Dowager Governess. Prue and Curtis' first obligation is to save Mac, but they learn that the kidnapped infant is only one part of a scheme to destroy nearly everything in the forest known as Wildwood.

Is it any good?


WILDWOOD is an exciting, charming, and clever tale that finds a unique kind of magic in the forest of the Pacific Northwest. The plot has echoes of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, but it is not slavish to its influences, presenting an unusual and well-drawn mix of adult, child, and animal characters. Meloy has a pleasant, unaffected style, and Ellis' illustrations perfectly complement the text. The first part of a proposed series, Wildwood resolves its central conflict satisfactorily, while leaving enough tantalizing loose ends for further exploration.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the precautions that should be taken while babysitting, even if kidnapping by crows is not high on the list of dangers.

  • Prue discovers a family secret about herself and her baby brother. Are there some facts that parents are entitled to keep from their young children?

  • The novel's villain, the Dowager Governess, lost both her husband and her young son. What effect might grief have on a person and how might it change the way he or she views other people?

  • One character is torn between family life in Portland and life in the Impassable Wilderness. How do people deal with conflicting emotions about their physical proximity to family?

Book details

Author:Colin Meloy
Illustrator:Carson Ellis
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Brothers and sisters, Cats, dogs, and mice, Friendship, Great boy role models, Great girl role models, Misfits and underdogs, Wild animals
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Balzer + Bray
Publication date:August 30, 2011
Number of pages:546
Publisher's recommended age(s):9 - 17
Available on:Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

This review of Wildwood: The Wildwood Chronicles, Book 1 was written by

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Teen, 14 years old Written byelectric ella June 3, 2012

A wonderful story about how far one girl will go to save her younger brother

This was one of the books that most fascinated me this year. The fantastic characters, brave heroine and fantasy genre are a perfect mix. The book is just such a mix of imaginative fairytale-like quests and the main character, Prue, goes through everything just to save her baby sibling! There are a lot of really positive messages and thought-provoking moments throughout the book, which not only made it a really good read, but gave it a high educational value as well. The book is very well written, with a lot f twists and turns along the way. The writer uses the creepy, mysterious setting of "The Impassable Wilderness", to give the book an eerie atmosphere, but is written in such a way that it is not too scary for younger readers. I think that it is fine for ages 10+, because there is quite a violent war towards the end of the book. The villains are definitely not for more faint hearted readers, but towards the end, when it becomes a battle of good versus evil, the good characters are shown to be much stronger. The climax is good, but can be a slight let-down to the otherwise brilliantly imaginative story. The villains reach their climax as well, the worst of them being the ivy. When fed with human blood, the ivy wakes from its dormant state and destroys everything in its path. Younger or sensitive readers might find that a bit disturbing and scary, but it is soon over when peace is restored to wildwood. Overall, it is very well written with wonderful characters and a great role model, with a good message about how far someone will go to protect their family. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy or adventure.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 12 years old November 26, 2013

Amazing Beyond Words

This might be my favorite book of all time. I love the characters, I love the setting, and I couldn't wait for the sequel. Prue is my favorite literary character of all time.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Parent Written byDgbrathe November 21, 2013

great book for boys and girls alike- complicated story might be better for advanced readers/older kids. my son and I loved it!!

What other families should know
Great role models