Sunday, March 20, 2016

Wing & Claw #1: Forest of Wonders by Linda Sue Park

Forest of Wonders (Wing & Claw #1)
My name is Raffa. I'm learning to become an apothecary like my father and uncle, and we've all been invited to work for the Chancellor in the Commons! But my da says no, and my uncle and cousin Garith leave without us. Grrr! I create a poultice from a rare vine I found in the Forest of Wonders and use it to cure an injured bat, but now the bat can talk! However, I also discover the vine's effects can be very dangerous, so I sneak  away to warn my cousin. I meet a girl named Kuma in a prison wagon (long story), and she's trying to save a large bear taken captive in the Commons. At first, I'm excited to hear Garith has been experimenting on the vine with amazing results, but now I'm not so sure. My doubts start when I help two injured baby raccoons, and now I'm not sure who can be trusted. Bad things are happening to animals, and my uncle may be in the middle of it!

This book is the first in a new trilogy by an award-winning author. Raffa's character should appeal to all readers. His intuition for mixing plants makes him a gifted apothecary. He's a good, honest boy who strongly feels that his medicines should not be used to cause harm. He wants to try new mixtures but never wants to fail. Even though Echo can talk, he doesn't exactly have conversations. The author has him speak in short phrases that sometimes make his meanings unclear, and it works. The issue of animal experimentation is a focal theme, as Raffa uncovers the truth around his uncle's new job. I'm wondering how Raffa's father will react when he finds out what's going on. I'm looking forward to the next book in the trilogy, Cavern of Secrets.

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