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Down the Mysterly River

3.72  ·  Rating Details ·  968 Ratings  ·  227 Reviews
Max "the Wolf" is a top-notch Boy Scout, an expert at orienteering and a master of being prepared. So it is a little odd that he suddenly finds himself, with no recollection of his immediate past, lost in an unfamiliar wood. Even odder still, he encounters a badger named Banderbrock, a black bear named Walden, and McTavish the Monster (who might also be an old barn cat)—al ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published September 25th 2012 by Starscape (first published April 1st 2001)
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Community Reviews

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Nov 27, 2012 Lyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very enjoyable surprise.

I began reading not sure of what to expect but I liked it right away and also very much enjoyed the ending. I read this as a part of a book club selection and like so many books in this category I would likely have never read otherwise. And, pleasantly, like so many of the books selected my fellow book club members, I was pleased and thoroughly enjoyed reading Down the Mysterly River by Bill Willingham.

A strong influence of Bradbury, Robert A. Heinlein and Ph
Sep 18, 2011 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone young enough at heart to appreciate a good fairy tale
Recommended to Eric by: Saw the author speak at a book festival
Sometimes book labeling really frustrates me, and this is definitely one of those cases. This book is listed as a children's book -- not even as a young adult book -- but it is so much deeper than, for example, a Lemony Snicket children's book. Although it's an easy read that can and should be enjoyed by children, it can be enjoyed on an entirely different level by adults (I can't say more without revealing the big mystery of the book). I'm glad I ignored the children's book label and picked up ...more
Originally Reviewed on The Book Smugglers:


First Impressions:

Ana: Bill Willingham is the writer of the comic book series Fables which has been going strong for years and although I have not read every single volume of the comics, I did read quite a few and enjoyed what I read a great lot. When I learned about Down The Mysterly River which is his first incursion into MG writing, it was all I could do not to drool all over myself. Needless to say,
Shaun Duke
Oct 08, 2011 Shaun Duke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantasies for young readers are almost always a joy to read. I'm no sure what it is about such books. Maybe it's to do with the whimsical style -- of which Down the Mysterly River has plenty -- or the adventures -- ditto. Or maybe there's something else I haven't discovered yet. In any case, Willingham's children's fantasy, Down the Mysterly River, is an exciting adventure story with a wonderful mixture of fairy tale and detective mystery. Too bad I don't have kids to read this book to...

I admit, I got turned off right after the dedication, where Willingham gives a surprisingly vehement endorsement of the Boy Scouts of America. It's worded just carefully enough to support plausible deniability of it being interpreted as “never mind the liberals, boys, you go on and exclude gay people all you want.” Which, of course, led to a brief foray into researching Willingham’s politics, and that's exactly the sort of dangerous nonsense that forever ruined Orson Scott Card’s work for me. Si ...more
Dec 13, 2011 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, fantasy
Every once in a while a story transports me to another world or emotion, and in this case it brought me back to feelings I got as a young reader, when I got caught up in a good tale that immersed in some fantasy. Silly, yes. Not serious enough, yes. But it is something I would expect from Willingham, and I do much enjoy his Fables universe; I fell easily into this adventure, even if I rather quickly surmised what was going on. There are things one could criticize. . .but why? This is a book to p ...more
Buzzwords: Mystery, Adventure, Boys and talking animals, logic, the ethics of changing others, (view spoiler)
Max the Wolf, Boy Scout and mystery-solver extraordinare, is in a strange new place, and has no idea how he got there. Then he meets Banderbrock the badger, McTavish the cat, and Walden the bear, all of whom speak and who are equally at sea as to how they’ve gotten to this place. And t
Jul 20, 2011 Cecelia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hi, my name is Cecelia, and I just fell in love with a book for 10 year-old boys. Hi, Cecelia. Wait, WHAT?! Yes, that's right. Bill Willingham's Down the Mysterly River has crazy powers of amazing. This book? Would have been my brothers' favorite thing on the planet when they were younger. I'm not even joking. It would have gone in the camouflage backpack right alongside the machete, walkie-talkies, and beef jerky. But it was published NOW, so I, city-dweller, older person and girl that I am, ha ...more
Sep 24, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Complete with lovely chapter header illustrations, "Down the Mysterly River" has the look and feel of a good old fashioned fairy-tale and it absolutely lives up to that first impression. Totally original, yet paying homage to classics like "The Wizard of Oz" and "The Incredible Journey", it has all the elements of a classic. With a boy lost in the forest, talking animals and an epic quest, there's loads of adventure. There are enough grizzly battles to satisfy tween readers and an ending which w ...more
Emily Freeman
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Timothy Boyd
Mar 13, 2015 Timothy Boyd rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bill Willingham has been one of my favorite Comic book writers for years so I was very excited when a friend told me he had written a couple of actual books. Even though it is a young teens book this is an excellent read. Great characters that carry you along in the story, you will enjoy meeting each of them. This one of definitely one I will recommended around to friends. High recommended to all!
Sep 23, 2011 Tyler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am shocked at how much I loved this book in the end. It actually blew me away.

I enjoyed it from beginning to end, but in the last quarter, I grew to absolutely love it.

Suffice it to say: Well done, Mr. Willingham. I didn't see it coming, but I suspected something was up.

See my full review here:
Nov 09, 2013 Vicky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really good! And a twist I totally didn't see coming that made it even more awesome! Highly recommend for kids, too!
There were no new ideas in this book, and I found the moral near the end to be rather heavy-handed. The characters (literally)were well-drawn.
May 26, 2015 Leia rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Leia by: Yi
Shelves: for-8to12, fantasy
It was a very intresting and adventerous book about a boy named Max who meet a badger,a cat and a bear.I would recommend this book to people who love reading about adventures!
Chris King Elfland's 2nd Cousin
Oct 05, 2011 Chris King Elfland's 2nd Cousin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of the Fables graphic novel series, fans of middle-grade adventure fantasy
NOTE: This review was first published on my blog at The King of Elfland's 2nd Cousin on October 4, 2011. If you enjoy this review, please come check out the rest of the blog!

I've been a fan of Bill Willingham's writing for years. His work on Vertigo's Fables: Legends in Exile series? Hands-down the best comic book writing out there. I've particularly appreciated the structure he brings to his sequential storytelling: sweeping, complex plots that more closely resemble epic fantasy than standa
What a fun story! Logan loved all of the characters, especially the bear, Walden. It was a fun romp and a nice counterpoint to the very serious book on slavery that we were listening to in the car at the same time. I read somewhere that a sequel was planned, but I haven't been able to find one. It certainly seemed like it was leaving an opening for one. We plan to look into Willingham's comic books.
Bluerose's  Heart
Max the Wolf, who is actually a 12-13 year old boy, not a wolf, wakes up in a strange world one day. He has no recollection of his immediate past and has no idea how he ended up where he's found himself. He quickly meets Banderbrock(a badger), McTavish(a cranky and very mean barncat), and Walden(a black bear who was a sheriff in the past). They learn that the "Blue Cutters" are after them to cut out parts of them that make them unique. Down the Mysterly River is about their journey to safety.

I c
Marion Harmon
Jun 02, 2012 Marion Harmon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lisa Nocita
Down the Mysterly River begins as a rousing tale of adventure, survival, and fantasy. The cast of characters features an erudite, older-than-his-years boy scout, a wise, battle-aged badger, a feisty and curmudgeonly tom cat, and an affable bear, all of whom can talk. The four meet when they rather inexplicably find themselves in a strange new world. Max, known as Max the Wolf among his scout friends, fears he has somehow managed to become lost while hiking until he almost stumbles over Banderbro ...more
Jul 30, 2012 Shara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed
The premise: ganked from Down the Mysterly River is the children’s book debut of Bill Willingham, the creator of the #1 New York Times bestselling graphic novel series Fables. Complete with illustrations by Fables artist Mark Buckingham, it is a spirited, highly original tale of adventure, suspense, and everlasting friendship.

Max “the Wolf” is a top notch Boy Scout, an expert at orienteering and a master of being prepared. So it is a little odd that he suddenly finds himself, with no re
Scott Foley
Oct 31, 2011 Scott Foley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Though Down the Mysterly River is written primarily for middle-graders, the fact that it is scribed by Bill Willingham proved irresistible. You may know Willingham as the creator and author of the Vertigo series entitled Fables. He won me over long ago, and I don't mind admitting that I'll give anything he writes a chance.

Down the Mysterly River proved an enjoyable read, even for an old man such as me. It is the story of Max the Wolf, a twelve-year-old Boy Scout who awakens upon an otherworldly
I quite liked this middle grade story from Bill Willingham. Max the Wolf (who is not so much a wolf as a 13 year old boy scout) suddenly find himself in a large forest, with no memory of how he arrived there. Indeed, he has no memories outside of those that involve mysteries he solved in the past. He quickly encounters a few companions in the form of talking animals (another clue he is someone strange) and they begin a journey to find out why they have arrived in this forest, at all times avoidi ...more
Ea Solinas
Apr 28, 2015 Ea Solinas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've never read "Down the Mysterly River" before. But while reading it, I felt as thought I was dipping back into a well-loved childhood classic like "The Hobbit" or the Prydain Chronicles.

And as you would expect from the author of the "Fables" series, it has a lot of talking animals, a resolute Boy Scout who discovers the darker side of the world, some genuinely spooky villains, and a metafictional twist that I honestly saw within the first few chapters. Willingham's powerful, atmospheric writi
This book was a simple, wonderfully-told tale. I loved almost everything about it - the characters, the writing, the world-building. I even loved the (view spoiler).

Talking animals, children on a quest to find home, villains and wizards. It wasn't groundbreaking - but it was just perfect in the way that storytelling is supposed to be. The type of storytelling that both 5 year olds and 95 year olds would enjoy. Until...

This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Complete review at:

Summary: Max calls himself Max the Wolf because he is the leader of his Wolf Patrol of Boy Scouts. He's never been lost. There's not a mystery he can't solve. However, Max is stumped about his current situation. He woke up in the middle of a forest with no memory of how he got there. On top of that, he has met two interesting characters: Branderbock the Badger, McTavish the Cat, and Walden the Bear. Both on a normal basis would be not t
Review format taken from my Children's Literature class at College of Saint Mary.

Summary of Elements:
Down the Mysterly River by Bill Willingham is an outstanding piece of children's literature. The overall tone of the book is darker than many works for young readers but had a very thrilling aspect to it that kept me reading long after I ought to have gone to bed. The `heroes' quest' is the prominent motif in this book and used to great effect. As the author shows marvelously with McTavish the M
Alyssa (Books Take You Places)
Originally reviewed here: http://www.bookstakeyouplaces.blogspo...

Max “the Wolf” finds himself walking alone in the middle of a forest with no memory of what has befallen him. He is wearing his scout uniform so he assumes that he has been separated from his group and is merely lost in the woods in a familiar place. Soon after he comes across a few talking animals, Banderbrock, who is a warrior and a badger, MacTavish the Monster, a barn cat with a serious attitude problem, and Walden a sweet she
Sep 16, 2011 Andrew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A talking badger, a talking bear, a vicious feral cat, and a boy scout who solves mysteries find themselves thrown together in a mysterious forest. Pursued by cloaked figures carrying blue swords that can rewrite reality itself, they desperately seek both sanctuary, and answers about the surprising truth of their situation.

Bill Willingham, best known for his comics work, gives us his first, and latest, prose novel. First, because he originally wrote it years ago and published it himself, and lat
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In the late 1970s to early 1980s he drew fantasy ink pictures for the Dungeons & Dragons Basic and Expert game rulebooks. He first gained attention for his 1980s comic book series Elementals published by Comico, which he both wrote and drew. However, for reasons unknown, the series had trouble maintaining an original schedule, and Willingham's position in the industry remained spotty for many ...more
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