"For as long as Raffa could remember, he had possessed a keen instinct for apothecary. At times, combining botanicals felt to him like mixing colour, adding ingredients until the hues in his mind matched or complemented each other."
Forest of Wonders is on my reading list for the USBBY conference and I am so happy because this book is utterly engrossing and I am so excited to be meeting Linda Sue Park at the conference.
I have mentioned in previous posts that I enjoy books with political threads. In Forest of Wonders the city ruler summons two apothecaries to come and work for her and she will provide a well equipped laboratory and comfortable lodgings. Of course this offer is not as good as it seems but to Raffa it seems like a dream job. He has found an injured bat which he names Echo. Raffa is able to nurse the little bat back to health using a rare red vine that he finds in the forest. An interesting side effect of using this means Echo can now speak but there are also other more dangerous effects. Raffa realises his cousin Garith has taken some of the plant to the city called Gilden and so he decides to run away to the city so he can warn his fun loving and impetuous cousin.
Arriving in the city he is swept up into the chaos, he is nearly imprisoned and he makes two new and important friends. He also discovers the truth about the work of his Uncle and Chancellor. By the end of this first book all four new friends are on the run accompanied by Echo (he has such a great sense of humour) and a huge bear. This cliff hanger ending means you will be desperate to find book 2.
There are also some beautiful invented words like sunpeak, sleepydeep, and sunfall along with sayings like "steady morning".
Here is the trailer from Harper Collins. The second book in the trilogy is called Cavern of Secrets. You can see a longer interview with Linda Sue Park here. You can read a sample and listen to a audio excerpt here.
Take time to read my thoughts about other wonderful books by Linda Sue Park she is such a talent!
With its engaging hero, talking animals, arcane magic, moral issues, and unresolved plot, this first of a proposed trilogy promises more exciting forest wonders. Kirkus
As in life, the choices are never black and white as Park’s realistically flawed characters struggle between looking out for the greater good or for themselves. Publishers Weekly
It is a fantasy novel, yes, but it is also a provocative moral tale about the relationship between humans and animals. An Aesop’s fable turned inside out. New York Times