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INTO THE WILD by Sarah Beth Durst

Time to write about something good, for a change. There are a lot of fun teen books out this summer--Holly Black's IRONSIDE, Esther Friesner's NOBODY'S PRINCESS, Melissa Marr's WICKED LOVELY been gracing bookstore shelves for some weeks. If you haven't grabbed them, do so. They're unusual, wonderful reads with strong female characters.

June 21 marked the official publication date of a book I've waited for eagerly for some years: Sarah Beth Durst's first published novel. In this case it was INTO THE WILD--I always knew it would be one book or another, sooner rather than later, but not soon enough for this very talented author. I met Sarah some years ago at the Boskone science fiction convention. We met as fan and author, but soon became friends. I learned she too was a writer, and eventually got to read her manuscript for THE POLAR BEAR KING. That was when I knew it was only a matter of time before Sarah got published. I was more than delighted when she asked me for a blurb for INTO THE WILD, particularly since I loved the book.

Julie's mother Rapunzel, unknown to her, led a rebellion that resulted in the people of the world's fairy tales escaping the Wild. All of them were captive in their stories, doomed to repeat them over and over, being chopped, starved, frozen, bespelled, poisoned, changed, and very few of them allowed a happily ever after. They were denied their own lives and memories, until Rapunzel and her prince set them free. Now the Wild is a small menace, a captive in Rapunzel's house, under her daughter Julie's bed. It's confined to small magics, like destroying the plumbing or converting Julie's shoes into seven-league boots, but it can't escape to take over the town and the fairytale escapees--until one day someone makes a wish, and lets it out.

Julie is a fairly ordinary middle school girl, for someone who has a magical forest under her bed. She knows her mother hides things from her, like what happened to her father, and how the Wild was reduced from the home of all the fairy tales to the green menace that eats her shoes. She despairs over her weird clothes and the persecutions of the school's popular girl. She tries to endure the visits of the sexist seven dwarfs and fights with her mother.

And then someone makes a wish in the magical Wishing Well. The Wild escapes, and begins to eat Julie's town. Rapunzel and Julie's grandmother, the Wicked Witch, vanish. The only person with the knowledge to find them, and redeem her last fight with her mother, is Julie. Armed with a knapsack full of magical devices, a pair of seven league books, and a vast knowledge of fairy tales, Julie enters the Wild to find and save her mother--if she can avoid being trapped for eternity in the pattern of any of hundreds of fairy tales, as so many of the people of her town have been. She has help, from griffins and ogres who remember her mother as a war hero, from her adopted brother Puss in Boots, from a unit of soldiers who have been changed into swans by day . . . but will it be enough? Or will she be trapped to sort lentils from ashes, pearls from the forest floor?

It's a smart, witty book with a funny, determined girl hero and a cast as varied as the unexpurgated Brothers Grimm, with Baba Yaga to keep an eye on things. But what are you reading about it for? Go out and get it!


( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 29th, 2007 04:32 pm (UTC)
I bought it last week at Sarah's Books of Wonder signing. Loved it, but I knew I would since I'd already heard bits and it came with recommendations of people who know good books :-)

I was going to write about it, but lost train of thought before doing so. I guess this means I'll have to re-read and post ;-)
Jun. 29th, 2007 05:06 pm (UTC)
>>Sarah's Books of Wonder signing<<

How was it? Was there a decent turnout?
Jun. 29th, 2007 07:20 pm (UTC)
I think there were about as many people as there were at the reading/signing (mostly reading) for The Coyote Road so not a bad turn out. When it got to the signing part it seemed that people were mostly there for Sarah (the other authors were JT Petty, Ellen Potter, and Staton Rabin). I'll have to admit not paying so much attention to the excerpt Sarah read, but that's because I'd already heard it twice before :-)
Jun. 29th, 2007 04:43 pm (UTC)
I was just wondering - you wouldn't happen to have a list of your recommended reading up anywhere, would you? I'm a huge fan of your Circle of Magic series, so I'm interested in...well...what you're interested in. :)
Jun. 29th, 2007 05:05 pm (UTC)
>>you wouldn't happen to have a list of your recommended reading up anywhere, would you? <<

It's on my webpage--on the side, if you scroll down, you'll see the "Recommended Books" link, which will take you to my lists of recommended books that I've done for talks I've given. And at the top of the webpage are links to the recent books I mention here.

I don't talk about many of them in the detail I did here, though--not enough time!

Thank you for asking!
Jun. 29th, 2007 05:16 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
Jun. 29th, 2007 05:19 pm (UTC)
That sounds really cool, and gives me an eager addition to my book list. Thank you.
Jun. 29th, 2007 05:25 pm (UTC)
Oh, that sounds delightfully creative!! ^__^ I'll have to look for it at my local bookstore. (thanks!)
Jun. 29th, 2007 06:23 pm (UTC)
That sounds awesome--I'm off to wishlist it now!
Jun. 29th, 2007 07:11 pm (UTC)
I miss the ability to buy new books. *wistful*

That said, I've added that one to the growing list of books to buy when I get back to the States. :)
Jun. 29th, 2007 07:44 pm (UTC)
I've already set it aside at work; glad to hear it's so good!

Jun. 29th, 2007 08:19 pm (UTC)
I have a copy already on order--been looking forward to this book ever since Sarah read from it at WFC. :-)
Jun. 29th, 2007 08:25 pm (UTC)
Another fun book is "Gift of the Unmage" by Alma Alexander, the first book in her WorldWeavers trilogy. It has a spunky heroine, Thea, a girl who can't do magic to save her soul, until she needs to in order to save her world. Ancient magic meets the computer in this unique YA. And Thea is enchanting.
Jun. 29th, 2007 11:55 pm (UTC)
I'm proud of myself. I managed to read a relatively lengthy livejournal entry. I think I will also be able to manage writing down that book to read!

(I'm drugged up and loony. Finally got my hip replaced Tuesday! You met me once at Boskone with Australian Kat and the gang in '06, I think.)

It sounds like exactly the sort of post-op book I'm looking to read. (I would read it again after that, of course, but fantasy books entertain my mind in a longer and more bearable way post-op. Sci-fi tends to blow it up and non-fiction leaves me transforming ceiling tiles into unicorns in my mind.)

Definitely jotting that down. Thank you for the entry about it!

Jul. 1st, 2007 09:54 pm (UTC)
*waves* Hi Boskone '06 roomie! Though sadly you're the only one of the three that I'm on even occasional speaking terms with... ah well, that was still a fun weekend. :)
Jul. 1st, 2007 09:59 pm (UTC)
I thought it was a fabulously fun weekend. I still speak with Kat often. Dory (that was her name, right?) I never really heard from again. Still, I had bundles of fun. It was the best birthday and post-op present ever.

I want to go back to Boskone some time. Next time I'll be a regular walking girl, hopefully! I'm so excited.

Thanks for the reply. :D.

Jun. 30th, 2007 04:50 am (UTC)
I'm always on the look out for new reads, and that write-up of yours has certainly tickled me :) I'll have to pick up a copy!

(And, just because I have an opportunity to say it - thank you, for all your books. The Song of the Lioness series especially! Alanna was a fantastic role model for my friends and I when we were growing up! I often look back on Tortall so fondly. And I think, had I not read your books, that I probably wouldn't be as confident a writer as I am now. You really inspired me! Thank you!)
Jul. 1st, 2007 02:43 pm (UTC)
Sounds like a lot of fun, I'll put it on the list! I also have WICKED LOVELY sitting on my shelf now, a loaner from Nina, and after yet another recommendation I think it's going to be next....
Jul. 1st, 2007 03:43 pm (UTC)
Yes, but what bookshelf? Where?!
Jul. 1st, 2007 07:48 pm (UTC)
Oh! Yes...I'm back stateside! It's the standard-issue bookshelf at the head of my bed at Choate, where I'm working for the summer...five minutes away from Mike's house. :0)

(Did you ever get the card?)
Jul. 1st, 2007 09:51 pm (UTC)
I was just thinking about _Into The Wild earlier today, actually! I met Sarah-Beth at Boskone last year and heard her read a chapter or two. Unfortunately I didn't manage to get my hands on the book in the 5 days between it's publication and my US departure, but I'm definitely hoping to find a copy whenever I return to the US. It looks entertaining, and Sarah Beth was so enthusiastic and adorable and contagiously squee-ish about it that I can't help but want to read it!
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )

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