Saturday, January 19, 2013

Review: _The Wood Wife_ by Terri Windling


Some people believe deserts are lifeless stretches of sand. That is untrue. Deserts vary in their habitats all over the world. The desert country of southern Arizona is unique. It is a vibrant desert full of many one of a kind species like the giant saguaro cactus. Fantasy author Terri Windling writes a powerful Mythic Fantasy book set in this extraordinary desert with The Wood Wife. The book is a timeless, memorable story that hooks readers with its setting, characters and plot.

Setting can be a powerful element of a book. Terri Windling sets the story in the Rincon mountains near Tucson, Arizona. This provides the book a strong sense of place. Her vivid descriptions of the desert increase the sense of wonder when the magical creatures appear. Coyotes, stags, cacti and other things are imbued with magic. The setting seems alien enough to a separate fantasy world existing   ¥ within the modern world. Setting brings mystery and change into the lives of the characters.

Ms. Windling creates realistic, believable characters that readers can follow with interest. Maggie Black is a writer and lapsed poet. She has an annoying ex-husband and moves around to many different places, running away from life. Finding a place and her poetry is her major conflict. Johnny Foxxe is a young man she meets. He is a native of Tucson with a strange family background. Dora is the young wife of a painter. She loves her husband, but becomes troubled by his erratic behavior all of these people encounter the magical beings like the wood mage, wind mage and shape shifters that bring changes to the lives of the characters. The author brings all of these interesting characters to life with intriguing backgrounds.

Finally, Ms. Windling weaves a suspenseful plot with depth. Maggie Black inherits a house in a canyon near Tucson from th   µe poet Davis Cooper. Murdered. he leaves all of his papers to Maggie who plans to write a biography of Cooper’s life. In the canyon, she meets the tenants of the other cabins such as Fox and Dora. Maggie’s investigation of Cooper’s life draws her into the strange world of magical creatures. The creatures are powerful and capricious beings. Various encounters with them bring danger to people and sometimes ruin. Maggie must try to unravel the past to save people’s lives. The plot moves at a fast pace and is thought provoking.

The Wood Wife by Terri Windling is a powerful book that is part Urban Fantasy, but mostly a Mythic Fantasy. Setting, characters and plot come together to create a deeply affecting book. It is a memorable journey through the desert Southwest brought to life by vivid descriptions. Ms. Windling's story demonstrates that magic can touch the real world in our imaginations. I recommend ths book highly to readers.

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