Beyond the Deep Woods (The Edge Chronicles: Book 1)

by Paul Stewart, Illustrations by Chris Riddell

David Fickling Books, June, 2004.
hardcover, 278 pages.
ISBN: 0385750684
Ages Young Adult

Beyond the Deep Woods (The Edge Chronicles: Book 1) by Paul Stewart This British bestseller is sure to be a hit with American audiences, as well. The Edge Chronicles begins with Beyond the Deep Woods and the story of a human boy named Twig (well, he certainly looks human -- as long as you don't notice his pointed ears). Twig doesn't fit in with the village of Woodtrolls with whom he lives, although his mother Spelda loves him dearly. But if there is one thing the woodtrolls drill into their children, it is to never, never, never stray off the path when traveling in the incredibly dangerous deep woods. When sky pirates land nearby, Twig's mother admits that he was found abandoned as a baby and that he is adopted. She also tells him that it's time for him to go visit some distant relatives. Armed with a comfort cloth and a knife, Twig sets out on a momentous journey to find himself. The mysterious caterbird tells him that his destiny lies beyond the Deepwoods. Of course, Twig strays from the path almost immediately (as 13 year-old boys are wont to do) and trouble immediately ensues. Unfamiliar with the off-path denizens of the Deepwoods, Twig finds himself in a new deadly peril every couple of hours or so. But he does meet a couple of friends along the way, as well.

Beyond the Deepwoods is truly one of the oddest, most inventive and entertaining children's books to come along in quite a while. Bound in an attractive hardcover format, the story is immensely enriched by the wild and wonderful illustrations of Chris Riddell. The dangers that Twig meets are truly terrifying (at least to an adult, anyway) but one does get the sense that Twig will manage to extricate himself from any nasty situation. From the red-faced Slaughterers (very nice people, actually) to the truly awful wig-wigs, the characters in Beyond the Deep Woods are memorable, to say the least. And the moral for children is quite clear: straying from the right path is bound to cause trouble. Don't miss this one.

Beyond the Deep Woods (The Edge Chronicles: Book 1) is available for purchase on

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This review was published in the July-August, 2004 of The Internet Writing Journal.

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