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McNeill, Malcolm: The Beginning Woods.

McNeill, Malcolm

The Beginning Woods

Pushkin, 2016, pp448, 7.99 [pounds sterling]

978 1 78269 090 0

This highly original book, drawing on fairy-tale archetypes, is a covert love letter to the power of books and reading. The scene is set in a world where people vanish spontaneously, leaving their clothes behind. We meet Max, a foundling baby who is so 'spooky' that he's nicknamed The Kobold before at last he is adopted by a loving (though imperfect) couple. But Max is desperate to find his real parents. He thinks he's found a clue in certain storybooks, but soon all books are threatened by the 'discovery' that they (and any work of imagination) are responsible for the vanishings. Max cruelly rejects his foster parents and journeys to The Beginning Woods, a realm of Forest Folk, Dream Harvesters, Dragon Hunters and others, but what he finds there is not what he was expecting. The fantastical yet dry tone, while being totally fresh, is reminiscent of Philip Pullman's Northern Lights, Katherine Rundell's Rooftoppers or Cornelia Funke's Inkheart. It's also quite dark, and probably best suited to Year 9 and upwards. With this in mind, The Beginning Woods will challenge and delight the reader with a burgeoning Brothers Grimm-like thicket of wild imaginings.

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Author:Quick, Anna
Publication:School Librarian
Article Type:Book review
Date:Mar 22, 2017
Words:210
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