Willa of the Wood, (Willa of the Wood Book 1)

Willa of the Wood, (Willa of the Wood Book 1)
Author(s)
Age Range
8+
Release Date
July 10, 2018
ISBN
978-1368009478
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Move without a sound. Steal without a trace. Willa, a young night-spirit, is her clan's best thief. She creeps into the cabins of the day-folk under cover of darkness and takes what they won't miss. It's dangerous work--the day-folk kill whatever they don't understand--but Willa will do anything to win the approval of the padaran, the charismatic leader of the Faeran people. When Willa's curiosity leaves her hurt and stranded in the day-folk world, she calls upon the old powers of her beloved grandmother, and the unbreakable bonds of her forest allies, to escape. Only then does she begin to discover the shocking truth: that not all of her day-folk enemies are the same, and that the foundations of her own Faeran society are crumbling. What do you do when you realize that the society you were born and raised in is rife with evil? Do you raise your voice? Do you stand up against it? As forces of unfathomable destruction encroach on her forest home, Willa must decide who she truly is, facing deadly force with the warmest compassion, sinister corruption with trusted alliance, and finding a home for her longing heart.

Editor review

1 review
Stay True to Yourself
(Updated: July 07, 2021)
Overall rating
 
4.5
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
5.0
What I Loved: Fans of Robert Beatty’s Serafina series will enjoy returning to the same world with Willa of the Wood. The setting of Robert Beatty's books continues to be an essential part of his tales. This time the story takes place in The Great Smokey Mountains in the early 1900s. At this time there is vast untamed land on the verge of being clear cut in the name of progress and development. Just as the land itself is in the middle of a struggle of old and new so is the night-spirit clan that Willa belongs to. She tries to follow the community’s expectations while staying true to her mamaw’s teachings of the old Faeran ways of protecting nature. She has been taught that the day-folk should be feared but finds herself in their world after tragedy takes her place in the community away from her. The audiobook version was a delight as the narrator captured Willa’s struggle with profound grief and loss of community and family. Some of the special words used by her clan, such as jaetters, were much easier to follow with the audio version as well.
What Left me wanting more: This book highlighted Willa’s deep connection to nature and the magic she can command as a result. Overall, it was very focused on her coming to terms with the lies she had been taught and finding her own path to belonging than on her relationship with the forest. Hopefully, in future books, there will be more interaction with nature and the unique way she can move within it.
Final Verdict: The audiobook was a lovely way to become immersed in Willa’s life of being a night-spirit. Middle-grade readers will enjoy justice as good conquers evil in a satisfying resolution to many of her conflicts. This book does have recurring themes of death and grief. It might be hard for sensitive readers because there are some situations of institutional abuse and kidnapping that Willa must overcome. What is deeply felt through the story is the message of love is not confined within your own clan and family can be who you choose.
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