By Cynthia Bujnicki
Twelve-year-old Chloe spends her days exploring the wilderness around her home. But once her father dies, her world is turned upside down. Taken from her home, Chloe finds magic in the world around her and her newfound friends as she embarks on a journey back home through the wilderness of Oregon.
What an extraordinary tale fit for readers of all ages. Following the adventures of young Chloe Ashton, a young girl who loves to explore with a loving family and household, her world is turned upside down with the death of her father. Things get even worse for her when her uncle comes around, greedy for her inheritance, and sells her off, sending her far away from home.
It is a journey for Chloe who is seeing the dark side of the world, and yet, she does not falter, she finds hope in the small things around her, in her little mouse friend, and in the goodness of the few people she meets who are eager to help her. That makes for a great story because Chloe’s strength and charisma make her a protagonist worth following. Moreover, she is not the only one. The novel goes beyond the scope of her POV to follow minor characters all around, from wild animals to people she stumbled upon, everyone is eager to help her, but they also have their own little stories going on. The narrative does not feel cluttered because of this, nor does the focus of the story feel inconsistent. Rios finds a way to meld everything together in a way to make the story as vivid as possible without losing focus of the underlining plot.
Another bit of wonder with the story is how it opens. The folklore, in the beginning, brings to life the mysticism and mythology of the story to give life to the magic that later follows in the novel. There is wonder there that makes the novel an incredible read. That magic lives in nature, and the wildlife gives the reader great respect for both, and it also sends an important message to young readers. A novel such as this is essential in today’s age where technology seems to govern over everyone, especially the young. Nature is getting forgotten, and so is wildlife, but this novel highlights the beauty of both. It challenges the danger of industrialization for the sake of it, and the harm it can incur to the innocent.
The novel has such a broad scope to it, yet it does not come off that way. The story flows and grows wonderfully as it tells the story and follows Chloe and her friends around on their adventures that will, no doubt, bring them all together again. It is a story fit for all ages and a great one for parents to share with their children. (★★★★☆)