Saturday, November 28, 2009

Into the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst

Into the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst
Copyright 2007
RazorBill (Penguin Young Readers) - Fiction/Fantasy
261 pages
Author's website

Love? He loved her? It was as if the trumpet girl had released a dam. More questions tumbled into Princess's swirling mind: How could he love her? He barely knew her. She barely knew him. She barely knew herself.

"Indeed," said his mother, the queen. "Your brother said the same about the girl from the last midnight, and she was little more than a scullery maid with high-quality shoes, when all was said and done." She fixed her gaze on Princess, and Princess felt like wilting. "Are you a true princess?"

Was she? She didn't know. If she wasn't a princess, what was she? This time, when Princess reached back for a memory, it felt as if she slammed into a wall inside her head.

A modern-day fairy tale, Into the Wild tells the story of Julie, daughter of Rapunzel, sister to Puss-in-Boots (he must be adopted) and granddaughter to a witch. All have escaped from the Wild, a place where fairy-tale characters are doomed to repeat the same stories over and over, again. The Wild lives under Julie's bed and it occasionally turns a shoe into a seven-league boot or steals a pair of jeans. But, the Wild is at least under control where it lives . . .

. . . until, one day, someone makes a wish in the magic wishing well and releases the Wild. Utter disaster rules as the Wild grows, sucking regular people into stories and dooming the characters who once escaped into returning to their old fairy-tale lives.

Julie has uncomfortably straddled the normal world and the world of fairy tales for her entire life. Now, with her mother locked inside a tower, her brother searching for his true love and granny on the verge of baking small children, Julie has no choice but to save the day. But, it's very important that she not allow herself to become one of the stories -- or, if she does, she absolutely must not reach an ending because then her memory will be lost and she will be doomed to repeat a story, as well.

As Julie ventures deep into the Wild, she faces all kinds of fairy-tale dangers. Can she outsmart the wicked witch she once knew as her grandmother, pass all of the necessary tests and save the world from the Wild? Or will she get caught in a story and never see her family, again?

Oh, my gosh, what a ridiculously fun book! I read this book two weeks ago and it's still as vivid as if I'd just closed the book. Sarah Beth Durst spins a marvelous tale and I absolutely can't wait to get my mitts on her next two books, Out of the Wild and Ice. Into the Wild has all the requisite features of a hero's journey. Julie is a reluctant heroine who goes on her quest with trepidation but gradually learns to trust her own instincts.

I did easily figure out who had wished for the Wild to grow, but that didn't bother me. It's a wildly imaginative, modern-day fairy tale that blends the old with some hilarious and often frightening new twists.

My thanks to Book Nut for the recommendation. Confidentially, I try not to visit Melissa's Book Nut blog too often because she can easily turn my wish brick into a wish mountain in under a month. Frightening. I'll keep working on all the books that are her fault and then, once I've hacked that pile down a bit, will go back for more ideas. If you love YA and aren't terrified of what Melissa can do to your wish list, visit her blog. Melissa's an awesome reviewer.

4.5/5 - Magical storytelling with a delightful modern twist, a heroine who is easy to love and a terrific cast of characters.

In other news: I've been so busy with family, chores and sick kitty that I haven't spent a great deal of time online and didn't bother to do a NaNoWriMo update but I stopped deliberately at just over 30,000 words because I wanted to take my time making sure I didn't write myself into a corner (which, unfortunately, I have done in the past). I love my setting, my characters and my idea, but the plot definitely needs work.

In case you're wondering, I'm very happy stopping at 30,000. Altogether, I wrote close to 44,000 words during November. If I could have lumped the two stories together and tossed in another 6,000 words to win, I probably would have because I had 10 days left when I chose to stop -- more than enough time to come up with 6,000 words and certainly enough to have won if I was willing to take the chance that I'd just end up throwing half of my work down the toilet. Since I've won twice, I didn't feel obligated to kill myself trying. I'd rather stop at a point that I feel gives me more room to maneuver; I do tend to write myself into a tangled mess when I write fast.

So, I consider NaNoWriMo a success. I like what I'm writing; I didn't burn out to the point that I can't even stand to look at my story, and I hammered out quite a bit of writing. Fractured or not, 44,000 words in 20 days is a decent output.

Kitty Update: We have found out our beloved Miss Spooky is terminally ill. She's got "a bone marrow disease," but the doctor said there are 10 different possibilities and the treatment is the same for each -- antibiotics and steroids to support a system that is no longer producing antibodies -- so we aren't going to put her through the stress of testing her bone marrow to determine which disease she's suffering from. We found this out when her good eye (she went blind in one eye after the first episode) began to bleed internally and pressure started to build.

Miss Spooky can apparently see a little light but she's functionally blind and has spent most of the day (since I brought her home from the kitty hospital, this morning) curled up on a fat blanket on the floor. She ran into a few walls before I finally got her to relax and settle down. She's a little freaked out. While Spooky had adjusted well to being blind in one eye, she seems to be pretty distraught about not being able to see much out of either eye. I can't say I blame her.

That's about all the news from the House of Bookfool. I haven't finished many books, but I hope to have a Children's Day, sometime soon, and I've got a couple of book tours coming up. If I can, I'll squeeze in my October Reads in Review, tomorrow.

Happy Saturday!



  1. Oh, I'm so sorry about your poor little kitty! Pets getting older is just the worst!

  2. Oh, poor Miss Spooky. Give her some extra loving from me.

  3. Lexi,

    Thanks. It does suck. She's a sweet kitty and we plan to spend a lot of time loving her up. I hate goodbyes. Hopefully, she'll hang in there for a while. :)


    Thanks. I will give her some extra head-rubbing, just for you. I've been reading on the floor by her pallet, today, just to stay near her and she seems much happier having someone nearby. :)

  4. poor lil kitty.

  5. Care,

    Yeah, poor lil thing. The running into walls part really bugs her. I told her I do it all the time, myself, but she doesn't believe me.

  6. Anonymous9:42 PM

    Oh, I feel so badly for poor Miss Spooky. Now you've gone and turned me into a cat lover (!), like I needed more things to obsess and worry about! ;) No, they bring more comfort than worries, but it does pain me to hear she's not working up those antibodies. I'm sending extra kitty love your way, and a few bounces from Minou and Samantha.

  7. Congrats on the word count! I didn't get any where close to winning, but I've started a story that I really like and am going to keep plodding away at.

    Sorry about poor Miss Spooky. I hope that she can cope with her sight loss and that she isn't in any pain. That's the most important thing with animals.

  8. Bellezza,

    No need to obsess. Yours are indoor cats, right? They live much longer. Miss Spooky is 15. That's 80-something in cat years, so things start to go wrong. At this point, she can't see much more than shapes and bright light, near as I can tell, but she's still trying to forge off on her own. It can be pretty funny. She walked toward me with such confidence just a minute ago (I'm up late because I have to give her eyedrops every 6 hours) and if I hadn't moved my legs, she would have run right into them. It helps to stomp on the floor or snap fingers if we're trying to lead her somewhere. She'll follow the sound. Honestly, I am so impressed with my cat.

    Thanks for the extra bounces from Minou and Samantha!! Give them neck scratches of thanks, would you?


    I wondered if you were continuing to write. Honestly, I think Nano is a wonderful thing because it motivates people. But, I think a lot of people do realize there's no need to hurry once they've started. Just beginning can be the hardest part, you know?

    Thank you! I don't think Miss Spooky is in any pain, now. When her eye first got bloody (it's black, now - totally covered with a layer of blood), she was really hurting. I think it must have been much like having an eye infection because my husband had one, once, and he flinched just as dramatically. She seems really happy -- a little nervous when she's walking around, at times, but sometimes she just gets hyper-confident and walks right into things unless we make noise to help her out. I hope she'll be with us a while, whether or not she gets her sight back (but, of course, I hope she does get her sight back in the good eye -- her left eye seems to be permanently damaged).

  9. We are dealing with the same sort of situation with our oldest kitty...very hard I know.
    Tooloose however is made of some sort of scientifically unbreakable material...
    The book sounds very fun so I will have to check it out. It's nice being back to blogging after being immersed with book 2...

  10. Pat,

    I'm sorry Girl Kitty is not well. It's sad to let them go but we're going to give Miss Spooky all the lovin' she can stand during her last months (or years -- she could go into remission, although the doctor said at her advanced age it's a little less likely).

    I'm glad to see you back and I cannot freaking wait for that next book of yours!!! :)

  11. I love your review. I put the book on my wish list on amazon. :) I hope Spooky feels better soon.

  12. Krista,

    You would go nutty for this book, I'm sure. Spooky is feeling better, but she still can't see a thing. She likes to *think* she can see but if she doesn't follow a voice we find her bashing her head into things. Crazy cat.

  13. I don't know a lot about animal behavior, but I'd be willing to bet that Miss Spooky learns to adapt to her visual disability in no time at all. She'll learn the layout of the house and become more in tune to the sounds nearby. Of course, I'm still sending good thoughts your way. Ah, how we love our pets.

    Congrats on the NaNoWriMo! 30,000+ words is a great achievement. Is this something you'll continue to work on and eventually pitch to a publisher??

    I'm home sick and am ready for a cup of tea. Off to the couch with my book. (I polished off three this weekend!)

  14. Les,

    Miss Spooky had already adapted to being blind in one eye and she's not afraid to go banging around through the house to find her bowls, so yep . . . cats are amazingly adaptable. I've been so impressed. If we're around when she's up and going, we help her -- leading by sound, tapping on bowls or guiding her to her pallet. Will snaps his fingers to lead her around; I stomp my feet or just talk to her. She's doing okay on her own, though. This morning, she walked into a wall, but there are some corners on the route between her pallet and her bowls that she'll have to learn to maneuver.

    Thank you! I don't know if I'll ever want to pitch a book to a publisher, but it's nice to be writing fiction, again. :)

    Aw, sorry you're home sick. Enjoy your reading, though!

  15. This book sounds like a lot of fun! Hope Miss Spooky is feeling better!

    Life by Candlelight

  16. Amy,

    The book is loads of fun and the cat is doing great, thanks! She still can't see a blessed thing, but that's not stopping her from roaming. She even went outside with me for about 2 minutes (that was all she could handle; I think not being able to see the outdoors freaked her out).


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