Sunday, October 05, 2008

Quirky, Eerie Quality Makes Into the Woods a Spooky, Unputdownable Delight

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

If you're frightened by tales of hungry wolves chasing little girls, gingerbread houses with kid-sized ovens, and pied pipers enslaving youngsters, you should probably stop reading now. Seriously. Lyn Gardner's twisted fairytale Into the Woods is not for you. If, however, you're brave enough to endure (or - gasp!- enjoy) these morbid little stories, read on - I think I just discovered the perfect Halloween read for you.

Into the Woods steals elements from a bunch of fairytales, weaving the pieces into a unique and creepy little story. Our heroines are three sisters - Storm, Aurora and Anything ("Any" for short) Eden. When their mother dies, their grief-stricken father deserts them, leaving the girls to fend for themselves. Besides an empty pantry and a debt to the milkman, their parents leave them nothing with which to make their way. Well, Storm's mother did entrust her with an old musical pipe, but that hardly counts. After all, it's just a useless old trinket. Obviously, her mother was delirious when she begged Storm to "look after it ... Whatever you do, don't let it fall into the wrong hands" (40). Storm thinks nothing more of it, until the sinister Dr. DeWilde comes knocking on her door. An exterminator by trade, the nasty man rules the countryside, due largely to the wolves that shadow his every move. As powerful as the villain is, there is one thing he needs: Storm's pipe. Although she can't fathom why Dr. DeWilde would want such an unremarkable toy, she knows she cannot give it to him. With slavering wolves hot on her trail, Storm grabs her sisters and flees into the woods. She knows she must protect the pipe that throbs with life against Storm's skin.

Knowing they can't go home, the trio creep through the forest until they arrive hungry and tired at a quaint gingerbread house. Aurora and Any never want to leave, but Storm knows her sister's glazed looks and constant desire for "granulated happiness" (369) mean there's something sour going on in the palace of sweets. Her shocking discovery throws her into frantic action. Not only must she rescue her sisters, but she must do everything in her power to keep the pipe from DeWilde's greedy hands.

When Any becomes a prisoner of the exterminator, Storm and Aurora know what they have to do - take the long, dangerous journey to Piper's Peak. The very idea of confronting DeWilde has them quaking in their boots, but they know it's the only way to save their baby sister and stop the evil piper. It's not an easy trek, of course. Along the way, they face ferocious wolves, a mad ogress, an eerie ghost town, a swirling blizzard and the pied piper himself. As magical as the pipe turns out to be, it's the girls' bravery and devotion to each other that sustains them. Although the trio vows to stay together "Forever and Always," Dr. DeWilde has very, very different plans for the sisters. Can Storm save her family? Can she defeat the wily piper? Or will her sisters become Dr. DeWilde's slaves for eternity? The fate of all lies in the hands of the reckless, quick-tempered Storm and her little tin pipe.

I can't quite capture the essence of this book. It's like a combination of Lord of the Rings and The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly with a bit of A Series of Unfortunate Events and a pinch of Coraline thrown in for good measure. Into the Woods just has those eerie, quirky qualities that make it different, creepy and fun. You probably shouldn't read it at night, and you definitely won't want to start it if you don't have time to finish it right away. Simply put, Into the Woods is a spooky, unputdownable delight.

Grade: B+

5 comments:

  1. " It's like a combination of Lord of the Rings and The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly with a bit of A Series of Unfortunate Events and a pinch of Coraline thrown in for good measure."

    Sold! It sounds like something I'd really enjoy :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great review!!! Sounds so interesting....it's on my list now!

    ReplyDelete
  3. This sounds perfect for the fall/Halloween season! And...I really think you should read "Sister Wife." I would be interested in hearing whether or not you liked it.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This sounds awesome! I am going to have to hunt down a copy and, make it mine and add it to my TBR pile!

    ReplyDelete

Comments make me feel special, so go crazy! Just keep it clean and civil. Feel free to speak your mind (I always do), but be aware that I will delete any offensive comments.

P.S.: Don't panic if your comment doesn't show up right away. I have to approve each one before it posts to prevent spam. It's annoying, but it works!

Blog Widget by LinkWithin