Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Me on Dreamwood
Author: Heather Mackey
Release Date: June 12, 2014
Publisher: Putnam Juvenille (Penguin imprint)
Lucy Darrington has no choice but to run away from boarding school. Her father, an expert on the supernatural, has been away for too long while doing research in Saarthe, a remote territory in the Pacific Northwest populated by towering redwoods, timber barons, and the Lupine people. But upon arriving she learns her father is missing, and rumor has it he's gone in search of dreamwood, a rare tree with magical properties that just might hold the cure for the blight that's ravaging the forests of Saarthe. Determined to find her father (and possibly save Saarthe), Lucy and a rather stubborn boy maned Pete follow William Darrington's trail to the deadly woods on Devil's Thumb. As they encounter Lupine princesses, giant sea serpents, and all manner of terrifying creatures, Lucy hasn't reckoned that the dreamwood itself might be the greatest threat of all.
Dreamwood is a mysterious and magical adventure into the forest, a quite possibly dangerous journey for a young girl searching for her missing father and her newfound friend.
I rather like Lucy as a main character. She's head-strong, determined, intelligent, and she doesn't believe in giving up or turning back. She trusts her father. She has faith in what he believes, in what they both believe about ghosts and spirits. When she hears that he's gone missing she does worry about him, like most children would worry about their remaining parent, and she decides to find him. Even though there is the possibility that she won't find him, or that he's died during this search of his, she continues on. Lucy must see this journey through the forest to the Devil's Thumb to the end. She has her worries, her fears, but she continues on.
The forests of Saarthe are rather haunting and magical. Lucy and Pete know to watch themselves as they search for Lucy's father and the long-lost dreamwood. They know the stories, they know ghosts could be lurking in the shadows. The setting is rather crisp and clear, the images of the faces in the trees and the sticks and mud under their boots are well-described by Mackey's prose. With all the nature, all the stories and ghosts and possible magic, I wondered if this book is meant to be a commentary on the relationship between nature and industry, how the landscape changes as technology comes in. Loggers, electricity. They're at odds with the Lupine and their roots.
In some ways I think this book is a growing period for Lucy. She has strength and character at the start, but over the course of the book she gains more. She faces down a forest that tries to get rid of her. She slowly gains a friend, one who sees beyond the ghost and spirit talk she's so interested in. She refuses to give up on her father. I would certainly recommend this to those looking for a new standalone middle grade book with historical and fantasy elements grounded by a very intelligent heroine.
(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Penguin Canada.)