With The Woods, Toalson has created a unique and haunting fantasy world, made all the more poignant by its roots in a deep sense of loss. A story of family found and rediscovered, this will tick many of the traditional middle grade boxes (the notes of The Secret Garden echoing throughout aren't the only homage) while still feeling fresh and resonant.
After a tragic explosion causes Lenora to lose her family, she goes to live with her estranged uncle at his estate. There, Lenora is drawn to the nearby woods and the magic she discovers within them. Can this magic reunite her with her family, or is it more sinister than she realizes?
Twelve-year-old Lenora's world is turned upside down after an explosion makes her the lone surviving member of her immediate family. She has nowhere to go, until her estranged Uncle Richard shows up and takes her away to live with him in his lonely mansion. Quiet and stern, he spends most of his time in his study conducting research and experimenting. Lenora is able to explore parts of the mansion and its lovely gardens, but Uncle Richard has one rule for her: Stay out of the woods.
Years ago, Lenora's cousin, Bobby went into Gilgevnah Woods and never came out. Now, Uncle Richard will do anything he can to destroy them. Lenora knows she is meant to stay away, but her grief and loneliness draw her in.
Upon entering the woods, she finds a world full of enchantment and beauty. Lenora befriends Bela the Scorlaman, keeper of Gilgevnah Woods, who shows her the wonder and the mystery of the place, but also promises to reunite her with her family. Is it too good to be true?
Will Lenora find peace in the magic of Gilgevnah Woods, or will she find something darker?
The Woods is an entrancing magical realism novel from author R.L. Toalson that tackles profound loss, grief, and finally, acceptance.
About the Author
R.L. Toalson has always been captivated by woods, particularly the piney woods of Texas. Her visits to woods have taken her to dark places, hopeful places, and humorous places (she once watched her husband try to tackle the above-ground tree roots in the woods of Huntsville State Park and, instead, fly over the handlebars of his bike). Woods are magical, mysterious places that often find their way into her stories. She is the author of the middle grade novel in verse, The Colors of the Rain, and silly kid poetry that has published online and in print publications around the world. You can visit her online at rltoalson.com.