Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Mythago Wood

I recently re-read Robert Holdstock's Mythago Wood -- reissued as a fine hardcover edition. Here is my review of it, initially posted on Amazon and sent to the BFS' Prism:

Back in 1981, Robert Holdstock wrote the novella 'Mythago Wood'. It was so good it was expanded into the World Fantasy Award winning novel of the same name (it won it in 1985). I am so happy to see Mythago Wood reprinted as a handsome hard cover, over twenty years on.

The decades have not dimmed the story or the quality of the writing. Ryhope Wood is a wooded area in the English countryside - but that's not all it is. From the outside, one can walk around it in hours; yet once inside the journey may take weeks. It is also a piece of land that has its roots (pun intended) travelling back not just in time, but to the realms that generate our myths, where the archetypes of legend originate.

This book is no rote fantasy. It tells of the passionate obsession and loyalty of the Huxley family, of two brothers and their father. Returning from the War, Stephen discovers that his brother Christian had disappeared into Ryhope, searching for their father. Stephen and his companions follow. But the trip in to the woods becomes a trek, and the hapless travellers become lost and subsumed into the myths they set out to explore.

Mythago Wood engages the reader as all good books should and so few do. Although Holdstock later wrote sequels to this story, Mythago Wood is a standalone novel. It is brilliantly written by one of the UK's foremost fantasists. Buy it. Read it. Love it.

-- Reviewed by Peter Coleborn

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