Wildwood by Colin Meloy Illustrated by Carson Ellis Book Review

In the vein of Chronicles Of Narnia comes Wildwood by Colin Meloy, illustrated by Carson Ellis (The Mysterious Benedict Society), a tale in which Prue’s baby brother Mac is abducted by a murder of crows and taken to the Impassable Wilderness, otherwise known as Wildwood. Joining Prue in her quest to save Mac is Curtis, a classmate who doesn’t quite fit in. Wildwood, like Narnia, is a vibrant world fit to bursting with an intriguing sociology and diverse residents. However, Wildwood does stand well on it’s own two feet.

Wildwood, book cover, colin meloy, carson ellis


I loved the language of Wildwood. Colin Meloy’s debut is absolutely a book for readers and people who love vocabulary. It does use some advanced language, however, I felt the language was no more difficult than Narnia, The Phantom Tollbooth, or The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making. Meloy treats young readers with trust and intelligence. This is not a book that has been dumbed down for it’s audience. There are context clues for the vocabulary as well. I really enjoyed Meloy’s style because it did remind me of the sort of fantasy I loved as a child.

Inside of Wildwood are lovely illustrations by Carson Ellis. The pen and ink drawings help to bring the story to life. It’s absolutely a treat to see as well. I think my favorite were the drawings of the coyotes and the bandits. Ellis is definitely an illustrator on my watch list.

Yet, a story needs more than pretty pictures and words to stand on it’s own. Friends, Wildwood is totally an epic story. The scope is big, yet I think there are enough pages to cover the discontent and rival factions of Wildwood as well as Prue’s quest and Curtis’s self-discovery. I think Meloy does a wonderful job of framing the story. Further, the backdrop of the Impassable Wilderness/Wildwood itself is well done. Actual world building takes place, and as a reader I do have a sense of the geography of the Wildwood. You see, Wildwood has it’s own different types of governments. There’s bureaucracy, town halls, tyranny, anarchy, and monarchy in the different segments of the forest. It’s brilliant. I would say this might as well be a book of bigger ideas on politics, but I am not the analytical type and would rather leave that up to more inclined minds, however, I could see this book having a bit of a fun use in a government/citizenship studies class.

From my grown up perspective, Wildwood totally has adult appeal. It hearkens back to that grand tradition of hero journey books that I grew up with. Books that treated you with respect, that make you think. It’s absolutely worth the amount of time it takes to read Colin Meloy’s 560 pages if you want middle grade that isn’t trite or unintelligent.

Disclosure: Received for review.

Other Reviews of Wildwood by Colin Meloy:

Misfit Salon

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About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I’m always on the lookout for books that will appeal to me and age appropriate for my seven year old daughter. Is this something to try reading aloud to her?

  2. Wow! This is quite a long book but I absolutely love the sound of this one. I’ve been wanting to pick this one up!

  3. I’ve been so excited about this one!!! I squealed like a kid on Christmas when it came in the mail, and I need to get to it as soon as possible. Your thoughts make it sound like a chocolate dessert surprise and with a smooth delicious coffee just sitting there waiting for me. 🙂 Also, I love that you said “This is not a book that has been dumbed down for it’s audience.” Basically it’s middle grade awesome fantasy written by a guy who knows how to write beautifully, and it is written so even big kids will enjoy it. Bravo and count me in.

  4. hmmm i might just have to read this one. thanks for the review!

  5. I just read Hugo Cabret (also hefty with its illustrations) last month and *loved* getting lost in his world. I love books that make you feel filled with wonder, and this one sounds like that kinda read.

  6. How integral are the illustrations to the story? I’m tossing around the idea of listening to this one on audiobook (I tend to prefer MG books as audiobooks), but don’t want to if the illustrations are important. I’m guessing I’m okay because it’s a 16+ hour listen, but I would like to know if I should check out the hardcover from the library too just to see the pics. =)


  1. […] Reviews: Bibliomantics, Good Books and Good Wine, Misfit Salon Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it […]

  2. […] Wildwood by Colin Meloy illustrated by Carson Ellis (Unsolicited) – I read this book last year and absolutely loved it, because it’s the kind of book I really would have been into as a kid — it’s thick, has big words, and is a fantasy with illustrations. […]

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