After her father goes missing in the woods that they protect, Winter tries to seek the truth in what happened, why the wood is changing, and what it all has to do with the arrival of a mysterious stranger in this thrilling YA debut. When Winter’s dad goes missing during his nightly patrol of the wood, it falls to her to patrol the time portals and protect the travelers who slip through them. Winter can't help but think there's more to her dad's disappearance than she's being told. She soon finds a young man traveling in the wood named Henry who knows more than he should. He believes if they can work together to find his missing parents, they could discover the truth about Winter’s dad. The wood is poisoned, changing into something sinister—torturing travelers lost in it. Winter must put her trust in Henry in order to find the truth and those they’ve lost. Bobulski’s eerie debut is filled with friendship, family, and the responsibilities we choose and those we do not.
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.
Winter was actually a pretty good protagonist as far as YA protagonists go. She was a character that was going through a lot. She lost her dad, she was forced to carry a big responsibility at a very young age, and had to try and balance this responsibility with school and friendship. Despite all of this, I didn't find Winter to be melodramatic or whiny. She seemed to have an overall a decent sense of responsibility and a decent amount of common sense. She was by no means one of my favorite protagonists I have ever read, but I didn't find her annoying or blatantly unrealistic. She reacted in ways that I would expect a teenaged reader would.
The real gem of this story was Henry. He was by far my favorite character and really he was my favorite aspect of this whole book. He was a total sweetheart and had such a great sense of humor. I loved reading his dialog, as he had such formal way of speaking, and his lack of knowledge of the modern world was rather charming and made for a fun read. More than anything he was so sweet and loyal to Winter. 10 out of 10, Henry was a great love interest.
The reason that this book only received three stars from me was due to the plot. The plot was just overall lackluster for me. I liked it, but I didn't love it. I found the plot to be a little slow moving, and overall very predictable. The story just didn't hook me like I hoped it would. I went through much of the story enjoying it but waiting for something in the book to blow me away. And by the end of the book, I was left, not hating it, but not loving it.
This book was an odd one for me because I would give the characters five stars, but the plot was a bit of a let down for me. That is why I settled on three stars. I figure it was a decent book overall, and I know that for the right reader, this book would be amazing, it simply, for me and my reading tastes, wasn't enough to wow me.