The Secrets of the Wild Wood
By Tonke Dragt
Published by Pushkin Children’s Books
ISBN 1 78269 061 0
Dutch YA author Tonke Dragt is a secret waiting to be discovered by readers who love a good adventure yarn. She’s been described as the Dutch J. K.Rowling or J.R.R. Tolkien, but Dragt doesn’t need to be tagged onto the coattails of any other writer because she is unique and her novels are a breath of fresh air.
Her most famous book The Letter For the King (1962), an exciting and colourful tale of a teenage knight in olden times, sold more than a million copies in its original language but wasn’t translated into English until three years ago.
The Secrets of the Wild Wood is the sequel, and continues the adventures of teenage Sir Tiuri and his squire Piak. This is a good “olde worlde” read, miles away from the whiz-bang, in-your-face adventures novels set in dystopian lands that crowd bookshops today.
Wild Wood takes you back to a time of chivalry when knights were bold and damsels were often in distress. Old-fashioned, yes, but thrilling and completely entertaining.
One of King Dagonaut’s most trusted knights has been sent into the Wild Wood on a top-secret royal mission, but has failed to report back to the king. This is totally out of character for Sir Ristridin. It’s up to Tiuri to head into the wood and find out what has happened.
On their quest, Tiuri and Piak discover an abandoned city, a mysterious band of green men, and a bunch of evil plots. Unrest is brewing between King Dagonaut and the Kingdom of Eviellen, and soon the pair’s quest is much bigger than finding a lost knight.
Wild Wood is much more than just a tale of good versus evil. When he ventures into the wood, Tiuri meets villains who turn out to be allies, and knights who betray their code of honour. The young knight learns a lot on his travels, and much of the novel’s interest lies in the personality and vulnerability of this appealing central character.
Readers who have not read A Letter For the King will soon pick up the story, and those who have already met Tiuri will be thrilled to go on another journey with him. Dragt writes lengthy yet utterly engrossing plots, and fills them with intriguing characters. You certainly get your money’s worth with this book.
Every so often, it is good to read something that doesn’t fit in to what’s necessarily trending, but is just a good story, well told; and the adventures of Sir Tiuri are certainly that. If you are looking for pure adventure, exciting writing you won’t be disappointed.
John Millen can be contacted on MillenBookshelf@aol.com