DOWN THE MYSTERLY RIVER by Bill Willingham

Posted 19 July, 2011 | Mary @ TheBookSwarm | | 5 Comments

Middle Grade Fantasy/Adventure
336 pages
Available Sept. 13, 2011
Review copy provided by publisher via Amazon Vine
Max “the Wolf” is a top notch Boy Scout, an expert at orienteering and a master of being prepared. So it is a little odd that he suddenly finds himself, with no recollection of his immediate past, lost in an unfamiliar wood. Even odder still, he encounters a badger named Banderbrock, a black bear named Walden, and McTavish the Monster (who might also be an old barn cat)—all of whom talk—and who are as clueless as Max. 

Before long, Max and his friends are on the run from a relentless group of hunters and their deadly hounds. Armed with powerful blue swords and known as the Blue Cutters, these hunters capture and change the very essence of their prey. For what purpose, Max can’t guess. But unless he can solve the mystery of the strange forested world he’s landed in, Max may find himself and his friends changed beyond recognition, lost in a lost world…  

Positive: Oh, such a fairy tale: A lost boy in a strange land who gathers a merry band of talking animals and battles evildoers on a search for answers and sanctuary. Hurrah! I will most definitely be book-talking this one to my students when the school year starts. I’m absolutely positive it’ll be snatched up in a hot minute by anyone who’s looking for the next Percy Jackson or Fablehaven.


Positive: The merry band. An adorably smart Boy Scout, Max is the leader in this strange land. A warrior in his own right, Banderbrock the badger entertains with his tales staring the Great Sett while taking the lead in the group’s battles against the terrible Cutters. Then McTavish, a terribly fearsome monster (aka barn cat and king of the MacDonald farm) with a hideous attitude and even worse appearance, joins the group. Finally, Walden the bear, a sheriff of his own woods who was better at inspecting the local beehive and keeping the trout population down than stopping the one troublemaker in his area, trundles his way into the bunch. They’re great foils for each other, playing off one another, and watching each others’ backs.

Positive: The ending. So satisfying, especially for a bibliophile (if you read the book, you’ll totally get what I’m saying. Loved it!). And, hey, it’s actually an ENDING! Unfortunately, the art of the ending seems to have been lost in many of the novels I’ve read lately but this ending restored my faith.


Wish: That a book like this doesn’t fly under the radar. Middle grade books seem to be overlooked and don’t usually get the buzz they need to be as successful as they should be.


Overall: DOWN THE MYSTERLY RIVER is a fantastic middle grade fantasy with enough adventure and excitement to entertain anyone who picks it up.


Available on Amazon | IndieBound

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5 Responses to “DOWN THE MYSTERLY RIVER by Bill Willingham”

  1. What? A real ending? With no cliffhanger? I don’t quite know how to handle that it’s been so long since I’ve read one! Sounds like a really fun story, thanks for sharing Mary:)

  2. This book sounds great! I haven’t heard of it before, but will definitely be checking it out! I am really enjoying middle grade books at the moment. 🙂 Glad you enjoyed this!

  3. I think I’m going to add this right now to my TBR pile. I think you are right that so many MGs don’t get enough attention they deserve. I think I should definitely diversify my reading pile and this seems like a good place to start.