'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Sunday 12 February 2023

Review: The Secret Wild

Adventure and mystery in the city for a girl who loves the rainforest. That's The Secret Wild.

Fern Featherstone is not a city girl and when she has to move to London, she misses the green outdoors. 

Her life changes dramatically, when on the plane to London she discovers a plant that can talk! 

She ‘liberates’ it from a botanist who is secretly bringing it into the country. Fern names the plant Special. And so begins a series of unusual events.

On the way from the airport, Fern is driven through the Chelsea Coconut Grove, thought to have been planted by someone dubbed the Guerilla Gardener.

Then there’s Fern’s Uncle Ned who she’s going to be meeting for the first time, and staying with. He’s a rather eccentric writer and doesn’t have a green thumb. Fern isn’t very happy. Her life until now has been so different to what it’s like in London. 

Fern meets a boy named Woody, and she discovers there are strange things happening. Plants seem to be taking over the city. Will Fern be able to uncover what is going on? Can she save the city from the mysterious turn of events?

As a novel, this book doesn’t have illustrations. However, the first chapter of each page is decorated with pictures of plants – branches, vines and the like – winding around the edges. As the story progresses, they grow from a tiny plant with a few leaves to multiple large plants covering all the white space. It’s a clever way of creating atmosphere. Added to this is the use of botanical themed names, like Dandelion Road, and Oleander the botanist. 

The Secret Wild is full of the environment and fast-paced adventure, with Fern’s experiences brought to life through the imagination of Alex Evelyn, in her debut novel. A fun story for independent readers, or as a shared read-aloud book.

Title: The Secret Wild
Author: Alex Evelyn
Publisher: Walker Books, $19.35
Publication Date: May 2022
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781406399394
For ages: 9 - 11
Type: Junior Fiction