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Heather Mackey’s debut novel, DREAMWOOD, is a lush foray into a world where ghosts are real, trees host dangerous spirits, and a brave little girl has the guts and the brains to save the world from a dangerous curse.

Lucy Darrington, the heroine of Mackey’s story, is a spunky young girl who runs away from boarding school to join her father, William Darrington, in Pentland, after he writes that he is on the brink of a tremendous discovery. When she arrives in Pentland, however, Lucy finds that her father has been missing from the logging settlement for weeks, and that the trees of the forest are infected with a strange disease the settlers call Rust. Lucy, with the help of her friends Pete and Niwa, sets off on a harrowing adventure to Devil’s Thumb, where she hopes to find her father, discover the cure for Rust in the form of a rare dreamwood tree, and confront His-sey-ak, the nature spirit who haunts the forest.

Just the right size for a beach bag, DREAMWOOD is a rollicking adventure, sure to be loved by all.

Heather Mackey’s debut is a page-turner, a sumptuously written story of a logical little girl with a special talent for clearing ghosts out of haunted spaces. Mackey’s prose leaps from the page, vividly marking out the forest Lucy travels through, as well as her internal struggles.

Lucy is a well-developed character: a headstrong know-it-all who grows into herself over the course of the story. Though clever and courageous, Mackey also allows Lucy to be tripped up by her own arrogance, making her a character both boys and girls will relate to.

A low point comes in Mackey’s portrayal of the fictional Lupine nation, which is loosely but clearly based on a combination of Native American tribes. Mackey attempts to move away from stereotypes in her portrayal of the Lupine people, but I found their inclusion problematic, and feel that she fell short in her portrayal of them. However, this may be a good discussion point for younger readers, or a springboard into further research on Native American tribes in the Pacific Northwest.

Despite this, I deeply enjoyed this book, and struggled to put it down. Just the right size for a beach bag, DREAMWOOD is a rollicking adventure, sure to be loved by all.

Reviewed by Lily Philpott on June 20, 2014

by Heather Mackey

  • Publication Date: June 12, 2014
  • Genres: Fantasy, Fiction
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
  • ISBN-10: 0399250670
  • ISBN-13: 9780399250675