Wildwood Imperium

Author: Colin Meloy

Artist: Carson Ellis

Type: Fiction, novel

Part of series: The Wildwood Chronicles (#3)

Published: 2014

I read it: March 2018

wildwood imperium

You have to hand it to Mr. Meloy, he knows how to move a tale along at a good clip. I’d waited longer than I intended to finish the third part of the series, so I was fuzzy on a lot of characters and previous action. This book features not one, not two, but three young female protagonists. Kudos to the author for representation, but I did have to pause here and there to keep things straight.

But to get bogged down in the details is not really the point. The point is adventure and intrigue, whether planning a destructive sneak attack with wannabe French resistance fighters, trekking with a talking bear, or accidentally bringing a dead woman (the Dowager Empress, now the Verdant Empress) back to an ivy-based half-life.

The story mostly sticks to resolving the main plotlines and working to bring everyone together toward a grand climax, although the primary players don’t reconvene until the very final pages. One new subplot features the steady rise of a creepy religion (found to be caused by brain-hijacking spores), which takes hold when a societal vacuum opens after the zealousness from Prue’s previous revolution crumbles and morphs. Meloy seems to be saying something here about shifting allegiances and the dangers of powerful groups swooping in to lay claim, though the exact lesson is unclear.

Perhaps it’s enough to simply portray squabbling political players in an effort to bring earthly concerns to a book that also includes giants made of ivy, a mechanical boy prince, plenty of birds (the Tolkienesque bird rescue is used at least three times, which is about three too many), and mystics talking to trees. The circle didn’t quite seem to reconnect on the mystics thing, but hey, the attempt is understandable. The series is about how cool it would be to live like a bandit in the woods and fight both witches and industrialism. You gotta have some tree-talking mystics in a story like that.

And wouldn’t you know it? There a new Decemberists album out now. Exit Wildwood. Turn up the tunes.

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