Max “the Wolf” has constantly improved his woodcraft skills as a Boy Scout and is a detective at heart, so he and his new companions watch for clues as they travel together in search of answers – and try to stay ahead of the vicious Blue Cutters.
For his first novel for younger readers, Willingham taps the illustrating skills of his Fables graphic novel series collaborator Mark Buckingham for the masterful sketches of each character, from Banderbrock the badger, Walden the black bear, and McTavish the Monster (or perhaps a cat) to their evil pursuers with swords.
Find this mystery/quest/friendship tale today in hardcover or paperback at your local library or independent bookstore. For a jump into the Fables universe, try Willingham’s Peter & Max novel which I reviewed here.
I do wonder what the animals in our lives would say to us if we could understand them talking…
My Recommendation: Max is lost in an unfamiliar forest, being chased by swordsmen who’d rather kill than talk, meeting up with talking animals – this has never happened to the top-notch Boy Scout before!
Using his woodcraft skills and powers of deduction (the young teen is a detective at heart), Max “the Wolf” decides to head downstream to find a town (and perhaps his memory). Along the way, he encounters Banderbrock the badger, who likewise is perplexed about being in this unknown forest, but remembers many tales of his daring and brave ancestors.
Dodging the Blue Cutter swordsmen who pursue all trespassers in this forest, Max and Banderbrock join forces with the black bear Walden, formerly sheriff in a quiet settlement in another forest, and McTavish the Monster, who looks very much like a battle-scarred tomcat to Max. All can understand one another perfectly, but their memories of time before this forest have unexplainable gaps.
Chased down the Mysterly River (as Walden named it) by the Blue Cutters and their hunting hounds, the friends try to find Prince Aspen (who is said to know many secrets) or anyone else who could help them escape to safety.
For the Blue Cutters remove everything unique about new arrivals in this forest – and what could be more unique than speech in animals or a Boy Scout with no troop nearby…
Why did the boy, badger, bear, and cat all arrive here at the same time?
Can the quartet avoid the Blue Cutters’ vicious blades?
What will they discover at the end of the Mysterly River?
An epic tale with an unexpected twist from Fables graphic novel writer, Bill Willingham, who undoubtedly enjoyed adventurous stories around the campfire as a Scout. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.