Book review – Wildwood Imperium by Colin Meloy

TreesColin Meloy’s writing is delightful. It’s full of imagination and quiet beauty. You’ll find yourself letting out little guffaws now and then, as unexpected bits of humour and sarcasm sneak into the story (particularly when certain characters, like Septimus, are around). He’s also created a world that’s rich and creative while still feeling real (i.e., not completely outlandish – it’s not hard to imagine that this place could really exist).

I utterly adored the first book in the Wildwood trilogy: it had adventure, imagination, and magic; there were several different and interesting villains; the story, place, and people were intriguing; and, there were many likeable and well developed characters..

The second book, Under Wildwood, had a lot of live up to and, while good, I didn’t love it. Because of this, I was hesitant to start the third book, Wildwood Imperium. I knew that I loved the universe Meloy had created and that I enjoyed the characters, but I was worried that this wouldn’t be enough to pull me through if the third book was lacking that je ne said quoi I found in the first book.

Thankfully, the third book was pretty fantastic. It’s fun, adventurous, and full of new and intriguing characters. On the whole, the only problem I had with it was the plot holes and unanswered questions:

  1. What happened to Swindon? Some readers also feel that his motivation was left unanswered, but he was a part of the industrial group wanting control of Wildwood. This was explained in the second book, when we discover Joffrey Unthank’s plot to plunder Wildwood’s resources, though perhaps not re-iterated well-enough in the third book.
  2. The Synod group. They’re goals, the origin of the fungi, how people were set free after the story’s climax, etc. weren’t as well defined as those of many other groups/things. Perhaps this was simply because they weren’t a part of the story until the third book. Unfortunately, I was left feeling like it/they were poorly developed.

Despite the unanswered questions, I thoroughly enjoyed the third book and feel that it complements the first two and wraps things up well enough to leave me satisfied, but wishing there were more Wildwood stories.

Another thing I loved about the book(s) was the lack of romance. I’m not a complete Scrooge when it comes to such things, but I’m so tired of the idea that boys and girls can’t be friends without being smitten with each other or being each other’s “soul mate.” It irks me that people of different genders can’t just be friends. So, I was delighted when I realized that Meloy didn’t fall into the trap of using this over-used plot device. Prue and Curtis were friends. Full-stop.

While this book (and the series overall) weren’t perfect, I can see that Meloy has a great imagination and incredible potential. I’m looking forward to his next book.

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