A New Young Adult Novel by the Best-Selling Author of the Serafina Series
Willa of the Wood, the latest novel by Robert Beatty, was published by Disney-Hyperion on July 10th, and has already spent two weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. The book is set in the same world as Mr. Beatty’s enchanting Serafina books, which I have reviewed previously.
While the setting of the Serafina books is the Biltmore Estate and the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville, North Carolina, Willa of the Wood takes place in the nearby Great Smoky Mountains. Like the earlier books, this one intertwines real-life locations during the late nineteenth century, adding a slight paranormal twist to show us a world that is just-this-side-of-fantasy. The mix of mountain folklore and magic gives you a feeling of lost knowledge just out of reach.
What’s it About?
The heroine of the new book is Willa, a 12-year-old girl orphaned as a young child. Willa is no ordinary girl.
Willa lives with her clan of forest folk and survives by scavenging. More and more, Willa scavenges alone, and she even steals from the houses of the human “day-folk,” whom she has been taught to hate and fear. Though she is a talented thief and good provider for the clan, she is isolated because she is the last woodwitch of her people and follows the old, forbidden ways. The only one to care for Willa since her parents died is her Mawmaw, but her grandmother is now old and infirm and must rely on Willa to provide for them both.
Things change dramatically after she has a close encounter with one of the day-folk, with his killing-stick and his vicious dog. Soon Willa learns that much of what she and her clan have been taught about the day-folk isn’t true. Not all of them are the same, and perhaps some of them are actually kind.
Will I Like Willa of the Wood?
If you are a fan of the Serafina series, you will almost certainly like Willa of the Wood too. Although the characters and immediate setting are new, the story holds the same wonder and magic of wild places just out of reach of us “day-folk.” If you don’t know the Serafina series, not to worry. Willa of the Wood has its own storyline, and is not dependent on the earlier books.
You will encounter an intriguing mix of history and imaginative storytelling that expands upon the folklore of the region. The age of the heroine and several of the major characters makes the story very relatable for young adult readers, but adult readers will certainly enjoy the book as well.
Personally, I enjoyed the book immensely, and I would recommend it to adults and young readers who love a sense of magic and an immersive story.
Where Can I Learn More?
You can also learn more and even read a sample chapter at the author’s web page.
In the video below, the author reads the first chapter of the book.