Friday, June 15, 2018

Book Review: 'The West Woods' by Suzy Vadori

Canadian author Suzy Vadori writes for the Young Adults audience. She is employed as an Operations Executive and is an involved member of the Calgary Writers' community, serving as When Words Collide (a Calgary Festival for Readers and Writers) Program Manager for Middle Grade and Young Adults. Her evenings are her hours for exploring her passion for writing Young Adult novels, of which THE WEST WOODS is Book 2 of THE FOUNTAIN series. She lives in Calgary, Alberta.

THE FOUNTAIN is a series and it is rewarding to know that Suzy maintains the same atmosphere and place for the second installment – the boarding school of St. Augustus, with the nearby woods and paranormal fountain continue to play a prominent role. In the opening chapter we meet the lead character In this series – Courtney Wallis – ‘Courtney had one foot out of the car door, with her body still firmly planted inside. Her throat tightened as the campus loomed before her. A dusting of snow graced the trees and roofs. Though she’d attended St. Augustus for ninth grade and half of the tenth already, it didn’t feel like home. The school’s buildings were set well back from the road and Courtney stared at them now. The whole scene felt out of place in Massachusetts. She’d always thought the oldest building on campus could be a castle like you’d find in France or England. At one time, its coating of green ivy had fascinated Courtney, like it was being gobbled up by the vines. As the semesters had passed though, the plain red brick of the newer buildings seemed more in tune with the personality of the school she’d come to know. Courtney sighed as she watched her dad walk away from the parking lot toward the dorm with her older sister Hanna. Winter break had ended too soon. “I’ll wash your car every night if you reconsider?” she called out. As if he hadn’t heard her, her dad pulled the lapel of his suit jacket up over his face against the cold and continued walking toward the dorm. He didn’t turn back. She wracked her brain for something else to offer, but came up with nothing. After a long pause, Courtney hoisted her duffel bag from the car seat beside her up onto her shoulder. She pulled her long, bushy red hair out from under its strap. She could just stay in the car. Once her dad got Hanna settled in her room and returned to the parking lot, the two of them could go. Home. Courtney pictured his face turning a deep shade of red if she tried that. It wasn’t going to be that simple. She’d argued her case all last semester, the entire winter break, then the whole car ride up here from Boston today. He hadn’t given an inch. Finally, she pulled herself off the leather seat of the car and stepped out into the staff parking lot where they weren’t supposed to park. Jim Wallis regularly ignored No Parking signs. Besides, he wasn’t planning to stay long. Courtney shut the car door with a satisfying slam… The Courtney her dad referred to had been a bright-eyed freshman. She’d been thrilled then to come to St. Augustus. It had turned out to be less exciting than she’d hoped.’

And on to the plot – ‘Courtney Wallis wants nothing more than to escape St. Augustus boarding school. After uncovering a well-kept secret about the school’s founder, Isaac Young, Courtney turns to the school’s magic to convince her dad to let her leave. Things take a turn when she meets Cole, who lives in the nearby town of Evergreen. He gives her hope that things might not be so bad. However, the school's fountain has other ideas, and binds Courtney to her ambition, no matter the cost. As Courtney struggles to keep the magic from taking over, she and her friends get drawn into the mystery woven into the school’s fabric. Everything seems to lead back to the forbidden West Woods. Together, she and her friends seek out the spirits of the past to ask for help, and find themselves in much deeper than they’d bargained for. If they succeed, Courtney could be free of the magic. If they fail, she may never be the same.’

The perfect balance between reality and fantasy and the mystery that overshadows the book is very well balanced wit the plot, making this book as successful as the initial opus in this fine series. Suzy Vadori shows staying power, Grady Harp, June 18
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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