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Helga: Out of Hedgelands (Wood Cow Chronicles Book 1) Kindle Edition
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There were parts of this book that you will need a lot of patience as it twists and turns into the next development. While I appreciated the writing at all times, the twists did distract me and I wasn't at all sure where the story was going. Then there are parts of the book that move rapidly, taking you on an adventure and has you wishing you were there.
The end is somewhat unexplained so I am assuming there will be another book in the series which I look forward to reading.
Would I recommend this read? Oh yes, definitely.
Offensive content?: G for theme and content, although it might be better understood by children aged 7 and above.
Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from the author via Orangeberry Book Tours. I did not receive any payment in exchange for this review nor was I obliged to write a positive one.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
I read the entire book, and I was not quite sure what I had been reading. However, I do appreciate the effort and imagination it takes to put a story to paper, so I gave this book a three, even though I don't know if I will read the next one.
I don't know if I would recommend this book to most readers, but maybe others would be less confused by it.
I read 23% of the 500 plus pages, according to my Kindle app. But I couldn't bring myself to read any more. I discovered that I wasn't looking forward to going on. Since I didn't read it all, I'm giving this three stars, not less. It may have become more entrancing as the events kept occurring. I hope so.
The author (and editor, if there was one) did a good job of patrolling for usage errors. They are few and far between.
OK. That's the good. What didn't I like about the book? See the subtitle, or series title - "The Wood Cow Chronicles." The what? My main problem was that all the characters are mammals or birds (possibly some reptiles, but I don't recall any). They are mammals or birds who speak English, and wear clothing and use tools. Different species specialize in different ways, and some species seem to serve evil ends, and some, like the Wood Cows, don't. And how do the Wood Cows specialize? Not in producing dairy products. Not in grazing. In woodworking, no less! I just can't see a cow doing woodworking. Johnson didn't describe the "hands" of the Wood Cows, or of any other of the creatures, so maybe they were actually anatomically equipped to do woodworking, but there's no description of how they might have done this. I had similar problems in imagining other species, and how they looked and did their jobs. I know -- C. S. Lewis had intelligent animals in his Narnia books, and some species were generally good, and some generally bad, and some of them specialized, but, in his writing, the anatomical changes necessary to become part of a mixed society were described, at least a little. The Talking Mice, for example, were about two feet tall. And there were humans to interact with. And the non-humans didn't usually wear clothing. And the Narnia stories were relatively short, and got to the point quickly.
Some other problems. There is dialogue, and some of it is in various supposed dialects. These are sometimes difficult to comprehend. There is no map, and one would have been helpful, as there is quite a bit of traveling involved. There wasn't really any magic. The most valuable commodity in the Hedgelands was not gold, weapons, jewelry, money, fuel, food, or arcane knowledge. It was racing tortoises. I didn't come to a description of a race between tortoises, and there may have been one or more, but it was hard to imagine why anyone would trade in such animals, or steal tortoises belonging to others. I'm not clear as to whether they were also part of the mixed species society, or just ordinary tortoises. Finally, although I haven't read it all, the narrative seems to be almost entirely a flashback, with the present introduced in a little bit of the beginning.
I wish Johnson, and his readers, all the best, but I won't be finishing this book. I couldn't suspend my disbelief any longer.
I embarked on its journey by listening to the story on a Kindle while riding my bike on nature trails in a state park. The daring adventures of colorful characters held my attention. I was transported into a vivid world of scenic natural beauty and accompanied Helga gladly, often reflecting: "I wonder what will happen next?" The magnetic plot unfolded in such an engaging way that I could not wait for the next chapter to begin. Now, with satisfaction, I eagerly await the next book. You may find it especially pleasing to read it out loud and to share and discuss it with children and grandchildren.