Willa of the Wood

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Escape into the story of a brave and unusual girl brimming with the ancient powers of the forest. From Robert Beatty, the author of the #1 New York Times best-selling Serafina books, comes a thrilling new series filled with the history, mystery, and magic of the Great Smoky Mountains. Kirkus Reviews described WILLA OF THE WOOD as "A moving, atmospheric journey of hope."

Move without a sound. Steal without a trace.

Willa, a young night-spirit, is her clan's best thief. She creeps into the cabins of the day-folk under cover of darkness and takes what they won't miss. It's dangerous work--the day-folk kill whatever they don't understand--but Willa will do anything to win the approval of the padaran, the charismatic leader of the Faeran people.

When Willa's curiosity leaves her hurt and stranded in the day-folk world, she calls upon the old powers of her beloved grandmother, and the unbreakable bonds of her forest allies, to escape. Only then does she begin to discover the shocking truth: that not all of her day-folk enemies are the same, and that the foundations of her own Faeran society are crumbling. What do you do when you realize that the society you were born and raised in is rife with evil? Do you raise your voice? Do you stand up against it?

As forces of unfathomable destruction encroach on her forest home, Willa must decide who she truly is, facing deadly force with warmest compassion, sinister corruption with trusted alliance, and finding a home for her longing heart.

Genres: Middle Grade / Historical Fiction / Fantasy

Author: Robert Beatty

Hardcover, 384 pages

Published: July 10th 2018

Publishing House: Disney-Hyperion

My Review

“Move without a sound. Steal without a trace.”

This was lovely. A girl that can intrinsically blend into her forest surroundings to see but not be seen. A different kind of Robin Hood story with a female protagonist and a great plot.

She is Faeran and a thief…the best one of the forest people, the best one of her clan. Her leader has put all his trust in her. In groups, all the kids are trained to go hunting, raiding and looting for things on the other side.

Her tribes people blend into their forest surroundings and raid the day folk, who fell trees to build their homes and make fires to keep them warm. The same ones that posess worldly treasures, jewelry and coins from distant places.

At some point, Willa gets caught and she challenges her leader. She is ousted from the clan, strikes up a friendship with a day folk man who teaches her to read. Along the way, she finds kindness and humanity in a society that shares the same world as hers and is yet so different.

One day, she stumbles upon a big secret of the Faeran. Something that has been hidden from the tribe’s people for a long time and that could expose the leader in the worst of ways. Something that explains her families’ tragic demise and shake the foundation of the tribe.

Caught between her world and that of the day folk, Willa is desperately trying to tie it all together and do right. One thing is for sure, the Faeran people deserve the truth.


This was such a magically wonderful book. When you are young, you are one with your environment and nature and the wonder never ceases. Willa and her tribe embody and cherish the natural world, the forest and the animals. A Native American (or native anywhere) quality comes to mind. This is perfectly portrayed in the characterization and history of Willa's people.

Parallel to the Faeran tribes, the day folk resemble immigrants or settlers to this part of the world. They not only take what they need to survive, but create trade routes and smuggle goods.

This not only would make a great novel to read for students, it is also just a great story of courage, trust and right from wrong.

Simply darling. I loved it.

This is the first book of the WILLA series, and I definitely want to read the next one.