About My Book Reviews

Monday, September 3, 2018

Willa of the Wood by Robert Beatty

Image result for willa of the wood
Title: Willa of the Wood

Author: Robert Beatty

Published: 2018

Genre: Fantasy

Grade Level: 6-8th Grade

(This review will only be over the first half)

Blurb (from goodreads):
Willa, a young night-spirit, is her clan's best thief. 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.

As forces of unfathomable destruction encroach on her forest home, Willa must decide who she truly is, facing deadly force with warmest compassion, sinister corruption with trusted alliance, and finding a home for her longing heart.

My Scores:

Writing Style: Flowery

While the prose was flowery, it did add a level of mystery and depth to the world created in this book. The setting was more than just a place they happened to be, it lived and breathed. There was great respect given to the trees and animals of the forest. There was great danger given to the clan-based home that the MC lived under. Through the way the setting was described I was able to feel how the MC felt about them.

Throughout the book there were several sentences with far too many adjectives.

For example: Creatures with thick dark brown fur and large, flat, scaly tails surrounded her, their wide teeth chattering as they worked.

Having a few of these kinds of sentences in a book wouldn’t be much of a problem. However, the amount of times they occur in the book really got on my nerves. I had to force myself slow down a lot of the time just to make sure I had the right picture forming in my mind.

Also, throughout the book were sentences that, quite honestly, should have been edited into paragraphs.

For example (1): The water of the stream, which had been the color of blood beneath the lair, was clear now, sliding along a winding bed of smooth, round, pale gray stones through a think forest of old trees, twisted and dark, with wet glistening branches hanging down from above and blackened roots twisting the wet ground below.

For example (2): From here, she ran along the rocky bank as the great river began finding its own way and making its own decisions, moving boulders and carving through the earth, getting stronger and deeper as all the streams around it joined until it was strong and unstoppable, wearing down the mountains through which it flowed.

Again, I had to slow myself down just to make sure I understood the sentence. At least, I tried to anyway.

Then, especially in the beginning, there were no transitions between different topics. Doing this made it feel like I was reading a bunch of random thoughts all mashed together.

Characters: Underdeveloped

The setting of the novel takes place in a forest, which gave rise to introducing many animal characters. The author was very successful in giving the animal characters a very mystical quality. It was enjoyable to feel a sense of awe whenever they were present.

The human characters feel a bit flat for me. None of them felt original or unique in any way. They didn’t even feel like real people, especially in comparison to the animal characters. I understand that since this is a middle grade novel I shouldn’t expect a high level of complexity in character development. Still I want them to at least be more than good guys or bad guys.

In particular, the MC, Willa, was truly a disappointment. Willa was given a very caring and loving personality, which played a unique role in her struggle to become the best thief for her corrupted clan. However, her reaction to all the traumatic events that took place never went past the surface level of shock. Almost like she wasn’t a person of her own. Like Clary from the Mortal Instruments, she was just a character that everything happened to, without any reflection as to the kind of life she wanted to live. Without any clear motives to achieve from our MC there wasn’t any sort of suspense built up for the story, which made for a rather boring read.

Plot: No Plot!

The plot for Willa of the Wood had the same issues I had for Seraphina and the Black Cloak. In both books the plot never makes itself clear, giving the reader a sense of frustration. Every time a great plot is set up and we’re ready to take the next step to fixing the conflict, it switches to setting up a completely knew plot. Three great (but completely different) plots were set up by the middle of this book. Two of which are mentioned in the blurb above. However, since I don’t know what the character wanted to do about any of it I simply set the book down.

Overall: Confusing

Overall, I found this book to be confusing in plot and boring in character. I loved the world that was created in this book, but it wasn’t enough to have me keep reading.

The messaging of this book was clearly about preserving the integrity of the forest and the animals that inhabit it.

Extra Notes:
Since this book was a cover buy, they get an A+ for the cover art.
I also really love the title.

Goodreads Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

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