Book Review: The Beginning Woods by Malcolm McNeill

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★ ★ ★ ★

The Beginning Woods is Malcolm McNeill’s debut novel, a peculiar story that is full of magic and wonder. The Vanishings are a mystery that no one can solve — people disappearing into thin air without any trace left behind aside from piles of clothing. Max was the baby no one wanted, abandoned in a bookshop. As Max grows up, he is haunted by memories of his real ‘forever’ parents, and sets out to find them no matter what it takes. What is to come when Max believes there is a connection to finding his parents and putting an end to The Vanishings? Meanwhile, the number of people disappearing is increasing rapidly, and scientists have yet to discover the cause of what is going on, let alone how to fix it.

While it is marketed towards children, I would find YA more suitable because it is a chunky book with 448 pages, and I think that would be too long for some young readers on top of that it is a fairly dark story with fantasy elements. I think that adults would enjoy The Beginning Woods, too,  and be able to appreciate the philosophical aspect that is throughout the story. It does at times become complex and can be a bit confusing, and while there are also parts that seemed to drag on, I did often pick it up to read a couple chapters then set it down again–I feel like it was a bit too long, and wouldn’t be such a heavy read at times if it were cut down in length.

This is a dark fairy-tale with such rich world-building; unexpected characters like witches, dragons, fairies, ‘cold’ people that we know as ghosts; and endless adventure. Anyone who picks this up will find their imagination is as vivid and weird as this story was crafted. My thoughts on this are still settling, but I do know that while at times I took breaks in-between reading, it was a wonderful, whimsical read, and this is one of the few books I will be rereading in the future.

Synopsis 

A MYSTERY NO ONE CAN SOLVE

The Vanishings started without warning. People disappearing into thin air – just piles of clothes left behind. Each day, thousands gone without a trace.

A BABY NO ONE WANTED

Max was abandoned in a bookshop and grows up haunted by memories of his parents. Only he can solve the mystery of the Vanishings.

A SECRET THAT COULD SAVE THE FUTURE

To find the answers, Max must leave this world and enter the Beginning Woods. A realm of magic and terror, life and death.

But can he bear the truth – or will is destroy him?

A STORY THAT WILL TAKE YOU TO ANOTHER WORLD

Greater than your dreams. Darker than your fears. Full of more wonder than you could ever desire. Welcome to the ineffable Beginning Woods…

Paperback, 448 pages
Published September 1st 2016 by Pushkin Press

Goodreads
Purchase on Amazon

I received a copy in exchange for an unbiased review from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

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