In my mind, Linda Sue Park is the author of realistic fiction for middle grade readers. They often feature protagonists of Asian ancestry.
So, imagine my surprise as I began reading her newest book, Forest of Wonders, which feels unlike anything else she’s written.
Sometimes when there is a shift like this, I find it hard to get into a book because I am fighting against my preconceived idea of what is supposed to be in the book. Usually, though, once I shake off my prejudice, I am happy with the unexpected book. And such is the case with Forest of Wonders.
Publisher’s summary: Raffa Santana has always loved the mysterious Forest of Wonders. For a gifted young apothecary like him, every leaf could unleash a kind of magic. When an injured bat crashes into his life, Raffa invents a cure from a rare crimson vine that he finds deep in the Forest. His remedy saves the animal but also transforms it into something much more than an ordinary bat, with far-reaching consequences. Raffa’s experiments lead him away from home to the forbidding city of Gilden, where troubling discoveries make him question whether exciting botanical inventions—including his own—might actually threaten the very creatures of the Forest he wants to protect.
The book reminded me at times of Jennifer A. Nielsen’s False Prince series. Like that series, Forest of Wonder is a fast paced story with a young boy setting off on his own to solve a problem within a realm. The first in a trilogy, this book is ideal for fans of those books, as well as Park’s already large fan base.