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Three Miles Around but Infinitely Deep: Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock

Tuesday, January 15th, 2019 | Posted by James Van Pelt

Mythago Wood Grafton-small Mythago Wood Berkley-small Mythago Wood Avon-small

Here’s a shout-out for one of my favorite books, Robert Holdstock’s amazing, 1985, World Fantasy award winning novel Mythago Wood. Holdstock’s book dovetailed neatly with my other favorite of that time, David Brin’s The Postman.

I really can’t recommend Mythago Wood enough. In a time when everyone else was echoing Tolkien, Holdstock created a completely different take on fantasy (rural fantasy — if that’s a genre). I loved this story of two brothers, their estranged and absent father, and a patch of wood that was only three miles around but infinitely deep.

Of all the books I’ve read, none has impacted me as strongly at the end as this novel. Endings are hard, so when I read a perfect one, I take notice.

Stylistically, Holdstock nailed it too. I didn’t notice the smoothness and rhythm of his work at first, but on subsequent rereads I paid much more attention to his sentence and paragraph building. He has taught me a lot. If you are looking for an outstanding read to start your 2019, give Mythago Wood a try.

I’m always looking for my next, great novel. Do you have a recommendation of a book that exists in your personal canon of classics?

4 Comments »

  1. I will be checking this out, you had me at ‘rural fantasy’ and a brothers story :)

    On a whim I recently read the Ravenloft book ‘I, Strahd- War Against Azalin’ the book went straight to my top shelf. Im not big into vampires but the setting and characters were fascinating, even if things got a little much in the end.

    Comment by Evan - January 16, 2019 1:43 am

  2. I still have vivid memories of reading ‘Mythago Wood’ years ago. Apparently Holdstock (who was surprisingly prolific) wrote at least two more books in the sequence, although my impression is that they aren’t quite up to the same standard as the first.

    The only other book I read by Holdstock was ‘Where Timewinds Blow’ – it’s a SF novel, very different from Mythogo Wood, yet there are strong corollaries re the premise in both novels.

    Comment by Aonghus Fallon - January 16, 2019 8:18 am

  3. The Face in the Frost by John Bellairs – eccentric, funny, frightening. It’s his first and only adult fantasy novel – when he brought the publishers his second, they told him there was no market for that stuff and suggested that he rewrite it as a children’s book, which he did. He spent the rest of his life cranking out YA fantasies and never returned to the grown up stuff, so The Face in the Frost is a true one of a kind, a unique jewel.

    Comment by Thomas Parker - January 16, 2019 10:21 am

  4. The Mythago series includes: 1) Mythago Wood, 2) Lavondyss, 3) The Hollowing, and 4) Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn, as well as the short story “The Bone Forest.”

    Comment by Steven H Silver - January 18, 2019 7:46 am


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