Review: Wildsmith: Into the Dark Forest

Written by Liz Flanagan
Illustrated by Joe Todd-Stanton
Published by Uclan Publishing

Wildsmith:  Into the Dark Forest is the first, fantastic book in a new fantasy series for younger readers:  a magical, exciting and captivating adventure that is sure to capture the hearts of its readers.

Rowan does not want to leave her home, father and friends but, when war threatens Gallren, she and her mother must go to stay with a grandfather she doesn’t know existed. 

Her maternal grandpa, Inigo Webster, lives in the forest with his white wolf, Arto, but why has Rowan’s mother never mentioned him?  What secrets can she be keeping from her daughter?  Although Rowan misses home and her father, she is an animal lover and soon builds an affinity with both Arto and Grandpa who heals animals that are brought to him.

When she hears a strange noise, she is determined to investigate and runs into the Dark Forest where she makes an incredible discovery:  a baby dragon whose mother is being taken by poachers.  Rescuing the small, injured, frightened creature, she overhears the poachers mention their need to avoid the Wildsmith.  Imagine her surprise when she discovers that Grandpa is the Wildsmith, a healer who can speak to magical creatures and heal them. 

And so begins the most magical, exciting adventure as Rowan finds herself facing danger in the forest; caring for a clutch of baby dragons; and, working with a trio of powerful witches and her new friends, siblings Will and Cam. Can they thwart the threat from the poachers?  Will they be able to bring safety back to the magical forest creatures?  And, could Rowan herself be a Wildsmith?

Rowan is a truly inspirational young girl.  She is naturally curious, courageous and someone who has a close affinity with animals, feeling protective of them, caring for them and wanting to keep them safe. She is selfless in accepting what is best for them, even when this is a heart-breaking choice. 

The illustrations included in my proof e-copy are gorgeous, expressive and complement the story perfectly.

Although this is a fantasy adventure, I adored the pertinent and timely environmental messages linked to poaching, habitat loss and caring for our natural environment which will resonate with young readers.

Wildsmith:  Into the Dark Forest is an enchanting, heart-warming treat for young readers of 7+ who will relish adventuring with Rowan as she fights to save the forest’s magical creatures whilst finding a new home.  I’m so looking forward to finding out which magical creature she will help on her next adventure!

Thank you to NetGalley and Uclan Publishing for an e-ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

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