Willa of the Wood by Robert Beatty
Publication Date: July 10, 2018
Summary from NetGalley:
Move without a sound. Steal without a trace.
Willa, a young night-spirit of the Great Smoky Mountains, is her clan’s best thief. She creeps into the homes of day-folk under cover of darkness and takes what they won’t miss. It’s dangerous work-the day-folk kill whatever they do not 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 world, she calls upon an ancient, unbreakable bond to escape. Only then does she discover the truth: not all day-folk are the same, and the foundations that have guarded the Faeran for eons are under attack.
As forces of unfathomable destruction encroach on her home, Willa must decide who she truly is. To save the day-folk family that has become her own–and lift the curse that has robbed her people of their truth–Willa will meet deadly force with trusted alliance, violence with shelter, and an ever-changing world with a steady heartbeat of courage.
ARC provided by Disney-Hyperion via NetGalley for and honest review.
This is a wonderful story full of magic and mystery. If you are familiar with his other series, Serafina, and enjoyed them you will like this one as well. Set in the same area as the Serafina books, the Appalachian mountains, and with a mixture of folklore and Native American stories, this book will surprise you with it’s many twists and turns.
Willa is a beautiful and very strong character. She is a type of night-spirit almost a fae type creature. She can blend herself into the forrest background so well that you can not see her at all. She is brave and certainly stands up for what she believes in. Willa faces many losses throughout the book, but it never deters her from doing what is right. She is willing to sacrifice it all to save her clan and the forrest that she loves. The book is told through her voice alone, and it is a very distinctive and beautiful one.
There are many other characters that interact with Willa throughout the story, animals, clan, and humans. Most are not well developed because she doesn’t interact with them for long. I love her interactions with the animals the most though, especially the otters. She learns something from all of the animals she encounters, which helps her in her journey. Except for her mamaw (grandmother0 and the Padaren (leader) the rest of the clan was not that well developed. The human that she ends up staying with Nathaniel, was a great father figure to her. You just knew that he wanted to protect her because she was part of the land that he loved so much. There were some interesting conversations between them about the lumber companies and ownership of land that I thought were very well done.
The plot of the story was interesting, although it does lag quite a bit in the middle when she is staying with Nathaniel. This book was not as dark as the Serafina books were, but there are some very dark moments. It is an intricate plot with some twists and turns that were hard to predict. The world building is different but still tied to the world the author has already established but now it is from the creatures that live in the forrest and even the forrest itself.
This world continues to be full of wonder and magical delight. If you loved the Serafina books you will certainly enjoy this one as well.