Publisher: Walden Pond Press
Release Date: September 24th, 2013
On an island on the edge of an immense sea there is a city, a forest, and a boy. The city is called Asteri, a perfect city saved by the magic woven into its walls when a devastating plague swept through the world years before. The forest is called the Barrow, a vast wood of ancient trees that encircles the city and feeds the earth with magic. And the boy is called Oscar, a shop boy for the most powerful magician in the Barrow, who spends his days in the dark cellar of his master's shop grinding herbs and dreaming of the wizards who once lived on the island. Oscar's world is small, but he likes it that way. The real world is vast, strange, and unpredictable. And Oscar does not quite fit in it.
But it's been a long time since anyone who could call himself a wizard walked the world, and now that world is changing. Children in the city are falling ill; something sinister lurks in the forest. Oscar has long been content to stay in his small room, comforted in the knowledge that the magic that flows from the trees will keep his island safe. Now, even magic may not be enough to save it.
"There's so much depth to Oscar, and I love the exploration of identity and what it means to be human and to be growing up."
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I was actually introduced to it through Dahlia's Book Club, and I decided to listen to this instead since finding time to read in college is hard.
There's so much depth to Oscar, and I love the exploration of identity and what it means to be human and to be growing up. Growing up can be so hard and so isolating for anyone, but social interaction is particularly difficult for Oscar. I also really enjoyed Callie as a character and how she is one of the few people to see through everything that prevent people from really getting to know or care about Oscar. Their friendship is so beautiful and so important and shows how important acceptance and love are, how much someone can change your life.
The world was really interesting, and I loved the premise of the story. I thought the story carried itself well, and I almost always wanted to keep listening. I'm still getting used to listening to audiobooks, but this wasn't particularly difficult to get into. I was glad there weren't long descriptions, but there were also so many times where I found it difficult to get any image of the setting. Like I know what the places are called, but it was still difficult to visualize much that wasn't the forest or garden.
The ignorance of the people also bothered me beyond belief. As much as it could be realistic, I don't see how everyone could just be brainwashed to forget simply because they were scared...but maybe that's because I never lived through something like that. My other biggest problem with the book was how quickly so many seemingly important characters just left the story, from Master Caleb to Wolf to Madame something (the one who Callie was working under) to the baker. There was so little exploration of these characters, and maybe the author didn't find that important, but it's such a shame.
But overall, I enjoyed the book, and it was worth the time.