Published by: Macmillan, 1st June 2023
There's a lot of talk about this upcoming series and no wonder! Greenwild: The World Behind The Door is superb. Aimed at a middle grade audience, it is a portal fantasy which focusses on 'green magic', with echoes of the secret garden.
Daisy has spent her life travelling from place to place and living in her mother's shadow. But when her mother embarks on a trip alone and doesn't return, Daisy's world is upended. Escaping boarding school, she follows the only clue she has and discovers the door to Greenwild.
Taking refuge in this magical world, awestruck Daisy begins to make friends who agree to help her in her quest to find her mother. For she is not the only one missing and it soon becomes clear that the Greenwild and the world beyond is under deadly threat and everyone has something to lose.
Rich and imaginative with enthralling descriptions, this is a story that reaches out with it's magical tendrils, takes root in your heart and mind and pulls you in to a fully immersive adventure. From tropical glasshouses to larder trees to a sighing forest to carnivous plants, each chapter is a jungle of discovery and delight. There's safety in the arms of Artemis and deadly danger in the form of Craven. Mixed with a menagerie of friends and animals, a moonlight market and dangerous missions, it made me feel I was curled up in the safe branches of an oak tree one minute and facing a poison-tipped arrow on the next.
The ecological themes are clear to see throughout the novel: the destructive impact humans have on the planet, the urgency needed to turn things around and the grief of what we have already lost. Yet, through the world of Greenwild, Pari Thomson celebrates the wonder and beauty of the natural world and, through the magical elements of the story and the amazing descriptions, brings a fresh sense of awe, hope and possibility.
Daisy is a great main character; uprooted, uncertain but driven by the love for her mother. Her peer group are fun and endearing and her burgeoning friendship with Hal reminded me very much of Colin and Mary in the secret garden. There were moments when I wondered how the plot was all going to fit together but, rest assured, the end brings twist and twist, proving that nothing has gone unplotted.
As a reader and a lover of fantasy, there is nothing more exciting that being introduced to a new world and this is something truly special. The illustrations by Elisa Paganelli bring an extra spark of joy and I highly recommend this to competent middle-grade readers, teenagers and adults alike.
A big thanks to NetGalley and MacMillan for allowing me a review copy. Greenwild: The World Behind The Door is available to pre-order and is released in June.