Seanan McGuire, writing as A. Deborah Baker, brings a book within a book to life with Over the Woodward Wall.
For those of you who haven’t read Middlegame, first…
I’m kidding, I just couldn’t resist using that gif.
Moving along, A. Deborah Baker is a character first introduced in Middlegame.
She is in fact the author of a book called, Over the Woodward Wall; snippets of which you get interspersed throughout Middlegame.
My recollection, although hazy, is that Baker was high-up in the alchemical world and was involved in some way with Roger and Dodger and other children like them.
In Over the Woodward Wall we follow two children, Avery and Zib, who live in the same town, on the same street, attend the same school, but have never met one another.
One morning on their respective walks to school, they both encounter a detour. Said detour leads them to a wall, the only option is to go up and over.
They do and find themselves in an entirely different world with no immediate evidence of a way to return home.
From there, the kids are forced to become acquainted rather quickly as they work together to survive the somewhat hostile fairy tale landscape known as the Up and Under.
Meeting an intriguing cast of side characters along the way, including talking owls and a girl made entirely of crows, Zib and Avery, come to trust in and rely on one another. A far jump from where they started.
This story is absolutely enchanting. There are so many fine details, I know I didn’t get everything I could out of this first read.
McGuire is a master at making every sentence count. Every word is placed for maximum impact. It’s truly an impressive display of skill.
Do I think people who haven’t read Middlegame can enjoy this?
Absolutely, 100%, yes!
You could compare this to so many things, yet it is like nothing else. I feel Alice in Wonderland. I feel The Wizard of Oz. I feel The Chronicles of Narnia. But at the same time, it is different.
If you have read and enjoyed any of McGuire’s, Wayward Children series, you should definitely pick this book up. I feel like it could easily be incorporated into that series.
I have so many thoughts on this, but as you can tell, they’re a little discombobulated.
As always, I appreciated McGuire’s subtle social commentary with regards to gender roles and the effects of unnecessary expectations placed on children, not just by parents, but by society as a whole.
Although, the ending was a little too abrupt for my tastes, and I would have enjoyed a bit more to the story, overall, I did really enjoy it.
I will end up rereading this at some point, maybe simultaneously with a reread of Middlegame. I am also hoping we see more of Zib and Avery’s adventures in the future.
Thank you so much to the publisher, Tor, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review.
I certainly appreciate the opportunity and will continue to pick up anything this author writes, under any name!