Monday, August 15, 2011

Down the Mysterly River by Bill Willingham

Down the Mysterly River is the children’s book debut of Bill Willingham, the creator of the #1 New York Times bestselling graphic novel series Fables. Complete with illustrations by Fables artist Mark Buckingham, it is a spirited, highly original tale of adventure, suspense, and everlasting friendship.
Max “the Wolf” is a top notch Boy Scout, an expert at orienteering and a master of being prepared. So it is a little odd that he suddenly finds himself, with no recollection of his immediate past, lost in an unfamiliar wood. Even odder still, he encounters a badger named Banderbrock, a black bear named Walden, and McTavish the Monster (who might also be an old barn cat)—all of whom talk—and who are as clueless as Max.
Before long, Max and his friends are on the run from a relentless group of hunters and their deadly hounds. Armed with powerful blue swords and known as the Blue Cutters, these hunters capture and change the very essence of their prey. For what purpose, Max can’t guess. But unless he can solve the mystery of the strange forested world he’s landed in, Max may find himself and his friends changed beyond recognition, lost in a lost world… 

When Max the Wolf - who isn’t really a wolf, but a boy - finds himself in a strange forest with talking animals he is surprised, to say the least.

When Max and his new friends run into some strange men who seem to know them and who are trying to capture them, they are a bit confused. In this strange new world these fugitives band together to escape detection and to figure out the mystery of where they are, and why they are where they are.

This story, though aimed for middle-graders, will charm almost anyone. Very reminiscent of stories I’ve read as a child, Bill Willingham takes you on an adventure you won’t soon forget.

Max and his friends, Walden the Bear, Banderbrock the Badger and McTavish the Cat (sort of), are all interesting and very solid characters. The book mostly follows them, but every now and then it takes a peek at what’s happening with the Blue Cutters and the mysterious Man in Green.

Bill Willingham drops a lot of clues as to where Max and his friends are and what they are doing there. Enough to leave you guessing, or to allow a better detective to figure out the mystery, which is tied up very nicely at the end of the story. He has a very descriptive writing style that allows the reader to see the characters as they race through the forest. He also does a good job at giving the reader just enough to leave you intrigued while not exactly giving away the ending.

I want to say I figured it out, and in a way I did, but only a tiny part. I absolutely enjoyed the ending, he definitely pulled the wool over my eyes.

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