I requested and received a copy of this free from the publishers, in exchange for an honest review. All views are my own.
The Wild Folk Rising by Sylvia Linsteadt, cover art by Sandra Dieckmann
The Wild Folk was one of my favourite books of last year (you can read my review of it here) and I was so excited for this second, and final, installment of The Stargold Chronicles.
It was well worth the wait, I loved it and I’m already looking forward to re-reading them both back to back.
If you enjoyed the first book, you’ll enjoy this immensely too. If you haven’t yet read the first book, stop reading this and go and start reading that straight away!
In this second installment we rejoin Tin, Comfrey and the hares Mallow and Myrtle as they race to save Farrallone from the Brothers’ greed.
I loved the way this opened. In fact, I thought both the start and end of this were excellent.
There’s no slow build, long recap or drawn out reunions. There’s enough as we go along to recall book 1, but we are straight back into the action with a dead Brother, a daring and deadly escape and the start of a seemingly impossible mission crossing Farallone via the underworld and the very highest mountain tops.
And the tension, drama and danger keep going right to the end. There’s no gradual resolution, no light at the end of the tunnel as you pass the halfway point. If anything, things get harder and harder until the very end.
I loved this about it. There’s no simple solutions or happy coincidences. There are risks and deals and consequences; there are bargains and gambles and backs against the wall.
Accordingly then, and as with the first book, the story is steeped in folklore, myth and fairytale influences. And, just as Baba Itha’s scene stole the show for me in the first book, it was the First Bobcat’s dealings in the Underworld that I loved best in this for its truly dark, fairytale feel.
On top of this, it is a book which positively glows with wonder at the natural world. Don’t let that be mistaken for gushing, flowery prose though. This is a book that understands the, well, wildness of that world, and it demands respect for it.
There are some beautiful, fantastic and awe inspiring scenes (the flock of birds!), as well as some really heartbreaking ones which should serve as a warning to all of us about the way we treat others, the impact of power and greed and being reckless with nature’s resources.
We meet many old characters, both good and bad – I hope it’s not too much of a spoiler to say there’s a terrific reappearance of Father Ralstein.
And there are wonderful new faces too – I especially loved Rupert and Oswald, and was so pleased to see a gay couple in an MG book not as a ‘token’ or an ‘issue’ but just there as lovely characters playing their part in the story, whilst ever so subtly making a point about prejudice.
This book is a fantastic adventure in a magical place that all the while mirrors our own. It deals with many timely issues, primarily but not exclusively environmental, in a non-confrontational way which nevertheless forces the reader to consider our own world, its past and, most importantly, its future.
Pacy, dramatic and dark at times but with friendship, hope and nature’s wonders bringing balance, this is one of my standout books of the year so far, just as book one was last year. This series is truly something special.