The Wood by Chelsea Bobulski
This cover is just too perfect for Fall. I had to Instagram it.
The back cover is pretty epic, too; it also serves as foreshadowing as to what’s about to happen to the wood . . .
Winter Parish’s ancestors have lived in their ancient home at the edge of the wood since the 1700s. In all of that time, one person from each generation has been responsible for serving as guardian. The guardianship stays in the bloodline and is passed down from generation to generation. A guardian’s job is to usher unsuspecting time travelers who wander into the wood back to their own time through various portals in the trees (it reminded me of the forest in The Nightmare Before Christmas where Jack found Christmas Town).
When she turned ten, Winter’s father began giving her guardian lessons. As only child, the responsibility will fall to her upon her father’s death or her entrance into adulthood, whichever come first. Sadly, it’s her father’s death that comes first. According to “Uncle Joe” (an immortal liaison between the Parish’s wood and the Council), Winter’s father strayed from the path (something that is supposedly impossible for a guardian to do), disappeared, and is assumed dead. Neither Winter nor her mother believe it. Dad would have never strayed from the path.
Ever since his disappearance, the wood has begun to change. The beautiful, lush leaves on the trees are decaying and dripping tar; the branches of the trees are withering and dying. The same boy from 1783 Brightonshire keeps returning to the wood and insists he has to stay. His parents are on the Council and they are missing (like Winter’s father); he is determined to find them. Although it is completely against the rules, Winter decides to let Henry stay so the two of them can find his parents and maybe discover what really happened to her father. I feel confident the fact that Henry is HOT played into her decision to break the most important rule of her kind.
What follows is Encino Man (a reference only 90s babies and under will grasp) meets YA fantasy with a Harry Potter ending.
Those were all of my favorite parts - the time travel romance, the fantasy world of the ever-darkening wood, the showdown at the end. It’s the contemporary YA bits that weren’t my favorite. I get that author, Chelsea Bobulski felt that she had to give Winter drama with her mama, a best-friendship strained from secrets, and a high school plot line to give Winter a more “typical teen in a fantasy world” story, but I could’ve done without it. The Wood is a good story with a cool premise and it will appeal to middle readers as well as high school teens.