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The Secrets of the Wild Wood by Tonke Dragt. Translation by Laura Watkinson. Book review

December 14, 2018

Book cover of The Secrets of the Wild Wood showing a snowy scene with mountains and men fighting on horseback.

One of the King’s knights is missing. So the King sends Sir Tiuri, along with his faithful squire and friend, Piak, out to find him. But to do this they must venture into a terrifying and dangerous secret forest realm where every path might only lead further into its impenetrable depths and unimaginable perils.

It did take me a while to get into The Secrets of the Wild Wood. This was not due to Laura Watkinson’s translation, which allows the no nonsense text to get on with the story, but rather because the narrative was written in a way that was more tell than show and without contractions when the characters spoke. However, once I had become accustomed to the rhythm of the story, I became engrossed in the unfolding events.

The Secrets of the Wild Wood has the feel of a style of story akin to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in the sense that it was a tale of chivalry and Tiuri is put to the test.

For a mid-grade reader there was some depth in the straightforward language of the text in that there were no clear-cut villains. Each had a plausible motive for why they might be working against the King. The reader is also not quite sure where loyalties might lie, to the point where I even began to distrust even loyal Piak, which really added to the tension of the narrative and the need to know what was going to happen next.

Billed as a fantasy novel, The Secrets of the Wild Wood reads more like a historic novel, and because of this makes a refreshing change from the character roll of obligatory dragons, giants and fantastical creatures. It also shows how a fantasy novel can become an engrossing, rip-roaring adventure of mortals without magical powers or outrageous and unbelievable embellishments.

The Secrets of the Wild Wood was courtesy of Pushkin Children’s Books.

  1. You mentioned this is a translation? Which language is it originally written in?

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