Northwood by Brian Falkner
Published: April 1, 2014
Check out the author's blog HERE
The dark forest of Northwood has never seen the likes of Cecilia Undergarment before …I received a copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Buy a copy today for your Kindle for $7.66 (4/10/14).
Cecilia Undergarment likes a challenge. So when she discovers a sad and neglected dog, she is determined to rescue him. No matter what. But her daring dog rescue lands her in deep trouble. Trouble in the form of being lost in the dark forest of Northwood. A forest where ferocious black lions roam. A forest that hides a secret castle, an unlikely king and many a mystery. A forest where those who enter never return. But Cecilia is determined to find her way home. No matter what.
Here is a book I think many readers can adore! "Northwood" is middle grade novel that is enjoyable for all ages. It is a quick, easy read with an easy vocab, short sentences, and few descriptive details. Gorgeously it includes a few pictures which help with a few of the harder to imagine elements of the book. The story is adorable, with a feeling reminiscent of "A Series of Unfortunate Events", and draws you in quickly with it's quirky world.
I loved the fairy tale elements. Our MC, Cecilia lives in a house made of balloons! Plus she can understand animals. I was already pretty jealous just after the first few chapters. As you continue to read, we discover an abandoned castle, a missing princess, a totally rude king, and a quest to get back home.
"Northwood" has a lot of great character moments. Cecilia was the kind of character who stood up for what was right, defended others, was kind towards all animals, and was clever and brave. That's why I think it would be a great book for little girls who have loved princesses (Disney, Princess Sophia), but are growing up and may be looking for more of a challenge in their reading. I would gladly read more like this from the author, Brian Falkner. And if my daughter was older, I would be reading it with her.
As it is a book made for middle-grade readers, I do want give some warnings: there really was only one. All the scary moments included are not that scary. It helps that it was written in the third person. The forest is home to black lions around every corner. They do give chase a few times, and claws and teeth are mentioned. Shouldn't be too bad. The most 'offensive' bit was that a pistol is used, but not against any living creature. But it is brandished and used and that could cause a scary, tense moment for sensitive readers.
For older readers, it is a quick, refreshing read that will spark your imagination and capture your heart for middle grade. An easy 4 stars. I hope this one is discovered by many fans of MG!