THE WOOD by Chelsea Bobulski is bound to be the next guiltiest pleasure on the market. Complete with time travel, magical woods, dark conspiracies, and attractive aristocrats, this book is deliciously indulgent. The main character, Winter, comes from a long line of guardians, but when her father is presumed to be dead, Winter must take over the family business prematurely. Having learned enough to keep the travelers and time portals safe in the wood, Winter feels helpless when a disease starts spreading and rotting the trees. Determined to find out if the decay and her dad’s disappearance are somehow connected, Winter discovers an unlikely ally and resource in a boy from the eighteenth century, a boy also driven to find his parents. Faced with a hard decision, Winter must choose if she will betray the rules of the wood for a greater purpose.
The romance between Winter and Henry is my favorite part of the book. Sure, they are star-crossed lovers with all the odds against them, but they also have an undeniable connection. Henry is a very alluring character and leading man, because in his time, chivalry has not yet died. His traditional gestures are swoon-worthy, but simultaneously, do not diminish Winter’s independence in anyway. Winter is a strong female character and well-matched with Henry. However, in order to see this relationship really develop, THE WOOD needs a sequel, or ideally a whole series to follow. There is much left to be explored in this world, and hopefully the author will have the opportunity to do this.
With that being said, though the story has an engaging premise, there are some plot points that forced me to suspend my disbelief. For instance, if it is so important that travelers not cross into the wrong time portal, why is there only one guardian per wood? And if there is only one guardian per wood, how could the council possibly agree that Winter could remain in school, creating the risk that even with her biological pull towards the wood when a traveler is present, she may not make it in time to save him/her? Also, the final showdown could have been bigger and more exciting. The antagonist talked about having so much power, but we really don’t get to see him use it that much. I wish he would have proven to be a more difficult foe.
Despite these minor grievances, I wholeheartedly forgive all of the above, because I just had so much fun reading the book. Not only could I not put it down, but I was always excited to see what would happen next. THE WOOD is absolutely a must read for fantasy lovers and fans of OUTLANDER.