Over the Woodward Wall is enchanting and delightfully whimsical, combining vivid imagery with the kind of logic that’s reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland or the words of L. Frank Baum. It’s the kind of book that’s perfect for a lazy Saturday when there isn’t much to do and you wish to be on an adventure.
I was most impressed with the writing style and its mastery of the absurdist tone that’s necessary for these kinds of books. It can be difficult to keep readers engaged in the kind of nonsensical logic that’s both frustrating and delightful, but the author does so perfectly. It’s clear that McGuire can master any type of writing, be it fairy tale or epic fantasy or cryptid tales that keep you engaged long after you’ve finished reading. Over the Woodward Wall feels less like laying the words on a page and more like weaving a story from various yarns that might not make sense on their own. Beyond the whimsy is an introspective message that encourages us to go beyond the planned and work-a-day happenings of our boring world to think outside the box. You’ll find myriad quotes to inspire you on this mission to avoid sameness – I found myself obsessively highlighting for my quote book.
From the first moment the protagonists jump over the wall, the world they find themselves in becomes anything but ordinary. I loved every part of the worldbuilding. The settings are masterful in their deception, presenting themselves as ordinary places on the surface before revealing themselves to be otherworldly. The many mysteries are blindly accepted by the protagonists as only children could do, adding another element of absurdity that’s pure fun. The characters they meet along the way are delightfully obscure, each one with an important lesson to impart and another piece of the puzzle that is getting back home. The further you read, the more you realize that home couldn’t be more boring than the adventure playing out across the pages.
To conclude, Over the Woodward Wall is the perfect mix of fairy tale and fantasy. With larger-than-life characters, beautifully rendered settings, and a journey reminiscent of timeless classics, it’s hard not to become engrossed in this story of two unlikely companions learning how to view the world in a different light.
NOTE: I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.
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Over the Woodward Wall
By Seanan McGuire, writing as A. Deborah Baker
Published by Tordotcom
Hardcover, 208 Pages