From the publisher: The first book in a planned trilogy, Linda Sue Park’s enchanting new fantasy-adventure richly explores the links between magic and botany, family and duty, environment and home.
Wing and Claw Book 1: Forest of Wonders, has much to recommend it. The cover is gorgeous, and the main character, Raffa, is admirable and talented. His cousin makes fun of him for his small size, but he is the better apothecary student.
Raffa, his parents, his cousin, and his uncle live in a village and are all apothecaries (or apothecaries in the making). They live near the Forest of Wonders, where they collect plants that can be used to lessen pain and heal injuries. Raffa has a gift, an ability to intuit whether combinations will help or harm. He saves a badly injured bat, and it leads to consequences he couldn’t possibly have imagined.
There is conflict in the story, and peer pressure, and bad behavior by adults. For once, a bat is one of the good characters (although at the expense of crows and owls, who are depicted as doing bad things). For my taste, for a book called Forest of Wonders, too much of the story was set in the city and not enough in the Forest itself. I hope more time will be spent in the Forest in the remaining two books in the series.
The story has the nice message that every life is worth saving. It also questions the relationship between humans and animals and the rights that animals have. The book does not stand alone; it ends very much in the middle of the story. Wing and Claw Book 1: Forest of Wonders is intended for children age 8-12/grades 3-7. I think it will appeal to children who love animals and nature (although parents should be aware that some animals are intentionally injured in the story). A 3.5 star book.
I read an advance reader's edition of Wing and Claw Book 1: Forest of Wonders. It was released on March 1.