Under Wildwood by Colin Meloy is the second book in the Wildwood Chronicles series. If the the name Colin Meloy sounds at all familiar it’s because he’s in the band The Decemberists, which is actually excellent music to listen to while reading The Wildwood Chronicles. If a books can be folksy, then the Wildwood Chronicles are, and I’m not just saying that because they’re set just outside of Portland…actually that may be a big part of the tone of the book. Whatever the reason, I like the result.
I believe I read the first book (Wildwood) before I started this little book blog, but I would recommend reading it, especially if you want to pick up this one. Wildwood spent a lot of time introducing (as most first in the series books do) the fantastical world of Wildwood, which is just outside of Portland, Oregon, and the characters, Prue and Curtis, that explored and adventured in it. Under Wildwood gives a whole new story to chew on and introduces new characters and a gives us new insight on some old ones.
The only thing I found occasionally jarring about the Wildwood books is I’d forget how old the character are. They are actually quite young children dealing with very adult problems, often in very adult ways. Sometimes this was very refreshing and it felt like the kids were able to have a clearer perspective on things than adults because they didn’t have a lifetime of biases to cloud their judgement. Other times I really just wanted them to go home to their parents. Something that was brought up a little bit more in this book than the last one was the consequences of going off and exploring. In the first book the kids were all very laissez about just leaving home without telling their parents, but after seeing how their actions affected those around them, in the second book they are often more aware of how they may be hurting others, particularly their parents.
While it was jarring to see young children going through things that seemed too old for them, it did make me remember all the adventures I dreamed about when I was young (and still dream about now, if I’m being totally honest). Running away to the forest, making friends with the critters that lived there, and helping them with their problems sounds like the dream to me. Colin Meloy manages to tell the tale in a beautiful way and it’s even paired with wonderful little illustrations. If you want to escape to a magical forest for a while I recommend picking up this series.