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I Belong

Review: The Wood by Chelsea Bobulski

Title: The Wood

Author: Chelsea Bobulski

Genre: YA Science Fiction

Series: N/A

Publication Date: August 1, 2017

Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages

ISBN-10: 1250094267 (Macmillan)

ISBN-13: 978-1250094261 (Macmillan)

Reviewed by: Kristie


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.

Quick & Dirty: Dark, creative time travel novel that was a refreshingly unique read.

Opening Sentence: Dad tells me the wood is not a place to play.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

The Wood by Chelsea Bobulski was surprising and refreshing read for me. I really enjoyed the uniqueness of the storyline and how different it is from a lot of the stories that I have been reading. I think I was expecting a historical novel along the lines of The Village movie but nope. The Wood is a contemporary young adult novel that deals with elements of time travel and immortal beings. There are some creepy/scary elements of the wood itself but I wouldn’t say this was a scary novel because those elements are pretty few and far between.

For over a thousand years, Winter’s family has been guardian of the wood. The guardianship comes with many responsibilities, the main one being that Winter must send back any traveler who makes it into her wood back to the time from which they came. There are quite a few portals from which a traveler can become lost but not too many that Winter can’t figure out their time period and location. The consequences of a wandering traveler can be devastating for time, history and the traveler especially if they die somewhere they weren’t supposed to die.

Several years have passed since Winter’s father was lost in the wood. She still holds out hope that her father is alive. Strange things begin to happen in the wood including a peculiar boy named Henry who says he will keep coming back. This boy seems to know things about the wood that he shouldn’t know. Eventually he says something that really gets to Winter and she allows him to stay because the woods are now showing signs of decay. Henry just may be the key for Winter to learn the truth about her father’s disappearance and why the leaves in the woods are turning black.

Winter is a character that I certainly didn’t connect with but I had no problems feeling sorry for her and her situation. She wants to be as normal a girl as she can, while she can, but as long as she’s guardian of the woods she has to keep secrets. One of the things that got to me was that Winter can never go too far from her wood, she can’t ever travel or even travel a couple of miles to the beach. She’s always on call (except at night when it is too dangerous to enter the wood). She’s super smart, knows many languages because she must communicate with travelers when they come through. Winter has a loyal best friend whom I felt was treated bad but I also completely understand that Winter always has to keep the biggest secret from her, the wood. Winter is also quite strong willed, even as she knows she’s falling in love with Henry (with someone she doesn’t have to hide from) she knows he must go back. She’s upset but she takes it in stride.

There are quite a few elements to this story that really did surprise me. Winter does have an aloof mom at times. Her mom is still deeply grieving even if it has been a few years since her husband disappeared. But Winter’s mom is there when it really matters, even if she can’t enter the woods herself. She does nag Winter a bit about her responsibilities but she knows Winter cannot stay away from the wood. The other element that completely surprised me and yet made the sap in me sad was Henry. He wanted to help Winter but he also needed to find his own parents. His agreement to stay was that he would do anything she asked of him. He does have an 18th century gentility while understanding that this new world is completely strange. Winter tries to keep as much of it a secret as she can because he must go back to his own time when all of this is done. I kept thinking that Henry was going to do something bad or at least have some nasty secret of his own but he never did. Henry was who and what he said he’d be and that was very exciting to me because I’m a bit tired of the backhandedness of some characters.

The Wood is told in the first person perspective of Winter. The storytelling often jumps back and forth in time between Winter now and when Winter was training to be a guardian with her father. The story has some dark elements but it really isn’t creepy. It is a weird type of science fiction with time travel where the main character never actually leaves her contemporary time. I liked the mystery aspect of the story overall, it wasn’t so much action packed but more a mystery.

Notable Scene:

“You’re asking me to break the most important rule of the wood,” I say. “The rule that isn’t even spoken because it should be known, without question. The rule that encapsulates my entire purpose as a guardian.” No traveler can ever pass through a threshold into a time that is not their own.

“Yes, I am asking that of you, but I am also telling you, if you do not let me through into your time and work with me to discover the truth of what is happening here, there may no longer be a wood for you to protect.” His Adam’s apple rolls down his throat. “There may no longer be a world for you to protect.”

FTC Advisory: Feiwel & Friends /Macmillan provided me with a copy of The Wood. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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