The Forest King: Woodlark’s Shadow
Illustrated by Tom Mandrake
Ages 8 to 12
Actionopolis Books, 2006, 978-0974280356
Soon after moving to the town with his family, Justin Woodlark got lost in the forest and it was a terrifying experience. It was during these very frightening moments that he first saw the metal poles in the forest, the poles that no one could account for and that no one could pull out of the ground. For a while Justin could not bear the thought of going back into the forest but over time, with the help of his parents and determined to fit in with his new friends, Justin was able to get over his fear of the forest and now he is happy to play among the trees, even indulging in the scary game of Old Man Forest in the twilight hours.
These days, Justin cannot help feeling that something is amiss among the trees. Something is in there, watching and waiting, something evil and angry. At first, when Justin encounters this unknown thing he can do only one thing, he runs as fast as he can away from the danger. But then a strange old man called Smith tells him that he cannot run forever. Justin wants to think that Smith is talking nonsense but deep inside he knows that he is not. So, with two of his closest friends to help him, Justin goes into the forest to face the monster, whatever it is, and to find out the secret of the metal poles.
Young readers who are attracted to stories which have elements of fantasy and mystery will be both entertained and intrigued by this first title in the Forest King Series. It is interesting to see how Justin comes to terms with his own fear and how he learns about his own family’s role in what is taking place in the forest. Dramatic black and white graphic novel style art can be found throughout the book, perfectly complimenting the action-driven plot.
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