“Dear Readers,” writes Colin Meloy on the website for Wildwood Chronicles. “Back in the year 2000, Carson and I were living humble, impoverished lives in a warehouse in Portland, Oregon. I was thinking about starting a new band; Carson was doing oil paintings and selling them at fire-sale prices. We were kindred spirits. Since we’d met in college a few years prior, we discovered that our creative sensibilities lined up perfectly. Carson had done flyers for my college band. I sometimes suggested subjects for her paintings. We were looking for some way to create a real collaboration.”
That sweet story is the inception of a series written by Meloy (aka the singer and songwriter for The Decemberists) and illustrated by Carson Ellis (aka the acclaimed illustrator of The Mysterious Benedict Society) — to whom Meloy happens to be married. Wildwood, or book I, was published in September 2012. In it, “Prue McKeel’s life is ordinary. That is, until her brother is abducted by a murder of crows and taken to the Impassable Wilderness, a dense, tangled forest on the edge of Portland. No one’s ever gone in — or at least returned to tell of it.”
Book II, Under Wildwood, picks up with Prue after her return from the Impassable Wilderness. “In what will be their greatest challenge yet, Prue and Curtis are thrown together again to save themselves and the lives of their friends, and to bring unity to a divided country,” says the book’s synopsis. “But in order to do that, they must go under Wildwood.”
Photo by Autumn de Wilde
The third book in the bestselling fantasy-adventure series, Wildwood Imperium, is set to be released on Feb. 4. “A young girl’s midnight séance awakens a long-slumbering malevolent spirit,” says notes on the book. “A band of runaway orphans allies with an underground collective of saboteurs and plans a daring rescue of their friends, imprisoned in the belly of an industrial wasteland. Two old friends draw closer to their goal of bringing together a pair of exiled toy makers in order to reanimate a mechanical boy prince, as the fate of Wildwood hangs in the balance.”
Meloy and Ellis make a stop at Malaprop’s on Saturday, Feb. 8 as part of their reading tour. The 7 p.m. event is ticketed: Tickets are $15 and can be purchased here. The ticket price includes a $5 coupon toward the purchase of the book — “A Malaprop’s receipt for Wildwood Imperium is required to get in the signing line,” says the bookstore’s website.