Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Time traveling is one of my favorite tropes in paranormal/SFF YA. The idea of people being able to move through the time-space continuum is a romantic one, and I always like to see stories that add a new twist to this time-tested beloved trope of fiction. Chelsea Bolbulski’s dazzling and suspense-filled debut novel, The Wood, adds a historical and ritualistic twist to time travel.
After the mysterious disappearance of her father, Winter becomes the guardian of the magical wood behind her house. During the day it is Winter’s job to make sure that lost travelers get back to where they belong. There are three rules: Do not travel from the paths, Do not linger after dark, do not ignore the calling. However, the appearance of a persistent traveler from eighteenth-century England and a mysterious disease attacking the wood’s magic call into question everything Winter has known about her duty, her family and the wood itself.
Lovers of strong female characters will quickly find themselves rooting for Winter. She doesn’t always make the best decisions, but she’s a girl who can fight, knows her fashion history and can speak multiple languages with ease. It was so much fun to read this book and see what she would do next to handle all of the obstacles that came her way.
I really enjoyed the other characters too. Winter’s understandably worried but devoted mother. Chivalrous and gallant Henry in his eighteenth-century British garb. The protective, but mysterious Joe. There were a lot of characters, especially the Council, the Old Ones and the other guardians, who I wish I got to read more about in this book.
Some of my favorite parts of the book were the world-building and the setting. Bobulski draws from various times and places throughout history in order to explain the various thresholds used for time traveling. I wanted more descriptions of these, too, because the moments we got to see Winter interacting with travelers were some of the best part of the book.
Description was such a strength of Bobulski’s writing. Readers who enjoy descriptive settings filled with fine details will enjoy this book. Fans of impossible love stories will also fall for the slow burn romance in The Wood. Equal parts poignant, amusing and intense, the writing is spot on and I enjoyed the read from beginning to end.
My only big issues were that the ending was ambiguous and the book felt a little rushed. The ending felt simultaneously too final and like it had too many loose ends for me to be fully satisfied by the time I reached the last page. I’m torn between wanting a sequel to find out what happens next and being content with the riveting tale contained within this one book. However, I wish that the novel was a bit longer, filled with a bit more context, dialogue and action.
Regardless, I really enjoyed this read and Bobulski’s style in general. The Wood doesn’t disappoint. It is an atmospheric paranormal thriller with perfect amounts of romance, monsters, difficult discoveries, action and more. I am excited to see what Bobulski has in store next for readers, be it a continuation of this world or a new dark tale.