Willa of the Wood
By Robert Beatty
Willa of the Wood is an interesting story that follows the adventures of a girl living in the Great Smoky Mountains. She is part of a clan of Faeran. Her job in the clan is to steal items from the day-folk, the settlers. She’s very good at it.
She runs into trouble when she gets injured on one of her nightly forays. Suddenly, everything she has known is called into question. Her devotion to the clan and the padaran are absolute, but is this misplaced?
Willa is a delightful character with some very interesting skills. She is a woodwitch and is able to call on help from the natural world. This gets her out of some sticky situations. But, her own clan has a lot of issues and she gets in trouble with them too.
I enjoyed the storyline and the characters. Willa is the one whose point of view the reader sees. She is a wily and intelligent character that many readers will relate to. She can think for herself and can see that there is more to the world than the insular world of her clan. When she makes some disturbing discoveries, she knows her world is about the drastically change.
Willa befriends one of the settlers, a man named Nathaniel. She begins to learn that the things she has been told about the day-folk are really not true. When the padaran decides to recruit Willa to a new job, things begin to unravel.
This book should appeal to middle grade readers, as well as even older readers. As an adult, I found the story to be enchanting and the characters easy to like. If this book is going to be part of a new series, I think it would be an excellent series to introduce to your students. Although I have not read them, the author has another series that I have heard good things about.