FANTASTIC FRIDAY: Dreamwood by Heather Mackey


Lucy Darrington has no choice but to run away from boarding school. Her father, an expert on the supernatural, has been away for too long while doing research in Saarthe, a remote territory in the Pacific Northwest populated by towering redwoods, timber barons, and the Lupine people. But upon arriving, she learns her father is missing: Rumor has it he’s gone in search of dreamwood, a rare tree with magical properties that just might hold the cure for the blight that’s ravaging the forests of Saarthe.

Determined to find her father (and possibly save Saarthe), Lucy and her vexingly stubborn friend Pete follow William Darrington’s trail to the deadly woods on Devil’s Thumb. As they encounter Lupine princesses, giant sea serpents, and all manner of terrifying creatures, Lucy hasn’t reckoned that the dreamwood itself might be the greatest threat of all.


Another great middle grade fantasy, Dreamwood takes the reader on a fascinating journey into the heart of a most unusual forest.  Lucy makes for quite a character, she's strong-willed, courageous, and loyal.  She's also a bit of a know-it-all and her pride and impulsivity causes problems all over the place.  Once Lucy determines where her father has gone, she will stop at nothing to get him back, even facing the unknown terrors of Devil's Thumb, a peninsula that no one has come back from in years.  But Lucy refuses to accept that her father might be gone for good and an encounter with a local eccentric leads her to believe that dreamwood might be the cure to the blight destroying the local forests.  With the help of her father's inventions and her new found friend Peter, she sets out to determine her destiny.

The intensity and mystery of this story make it a compelling read.  The character interactions were fascinating and enjoyable with plenty of tension.  They felt very real.  All the characters had mixed motivations for doing what they did and it all came together in a believable way, very important in a book with fantastic elements like this one.  The world building that the author does comes together is some very intriguing ways, emphasizing the interconnectedness of the world the characters live in with each of their actions leading to future events. With themes of friendship, greed, nature, and morality all playing a strong role, Dreamwood is a wonderful addition to middle grade speculative fiction.  However, there is enough violence (including several deaths) that make it more appropriate for slightly older readers. I look forward to reading more from this author.


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