The Wood Wife
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The Wood Wife

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4.19 of 5 stars 4.19  ·  rating details  ·  2,097 ratings  ·  157 reviews
When Maggie Black comes to the desert home of poet Davis Cooper, seeking an answer to the riddle of his death, she begins a journey of self-discovery that will change her forever, coming face to face with the wild spirits that inhabit that strange and magical place.
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published October 1st 1996 by Tor Books
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Sabrina
I am very fond of this book, in part because I think it is one of the few urban fantasies that include artists (and a description of their work) that makes me want to see the artwork described. I suspect it is because Windling is a painter as well as a writer, and she genuinely creates those works (even if not materially). I think she does this far better than de Lint, for example, who (though I really, really like his stories and many of his novels) peoples his writing with artists whose work I...more
Susan
Originally slated to be one of the four premier books in the Brian Froud's Faerielands series, when that was scrapped the two books that hadn't been released were published as stand-alone fantasies... and another cover artist was chosen. When the book was such a success it was again given a new cover, but the reprint wasn't nearly as pretty as the original Froud cover or the Boulet painting that was chosen.

The book itself was a delight to read--I like desert of Southern Arizona best of the four...more
Juushika
Poet Davis Cooper dies, leaving his home in the Tuscon mountains to Maggie Black, his friend and protégé. As she explores his home and the mysteries of his life and death, she begins to suspect that the magic that fills Cooper's poems is not allegory but rather reflects the reality of the desert mountains. Although well written and technically accomplished, exaggerated characters and a predictable plot render the book's magic flat. The Wood Wife may satisfy some readers, but I found it disappoin...more
Carol. [All cynic, all the time]
Apr 26, 2011 Carol. [All cynic, all the time] rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of de Lint, lyrical urban fantasy
Shelves: fantasy, my-library
Enjoyed it very much. Mystical-based urban fantasy, or rater, rural fantasy, as it largely takes place in a remote area of Arizona. Although this book was enjoyable once I sat down and made some uninterrupted time for it, I found the writing occasionally sermonizing, such as when a character is making a point about wildlife being shot and poisoned under game laws, or bringing suburban housing values to rural settings. It's not that I don't agree with those values--I do--it's that it seemed to in...more
Ethan
This book started out very well. It was quite interesting and the descriptions of the Southwest are excellent. The main character is well realized. Crow is well done, though the other (human) characters don't seem quite as powerful, and only Tomas is truly interesting, since the others are fairly bland. Sometimes the POV seems a bit sloppy, but them's the breaks with an omniscient narrator.

My main problem with the book was all the hippyesque blabbermouthing about mysticism and art. The poetry is...more
Melanti
I picked up this book because I was/am trying to read as much of the early urban/mythic fantasy books as I can get my hands on.

I fell in love with Charles de Lint's Forests of the Heart early on, and after reading more of his works, decided to go for Terri Windling next, hoping for something similar in terms of both the mythic themes and the love of the desert. I was also interested in how much, if any, Windling's and de Lint's friendship may have influenced their writings.

There are may common...more
Alisa
Dreamers, cacti, wild pigs. Poets and musicians.

This is the kind of book that I could have really enjoyed as a much younger person. I think in my dreamy teens, it could easily have been my gospel. I can feel that stuff about my Appalachian woods, so I can believe it of someone else's desert. But now cynical old me, it just didn't catch me in my fur, it didn't drag me out onto that star spiral and take me away across time and the canyon sky. Once upon a time I would have lived and dreamed myself...more
Tim
A terrific work of fantasy in a modern setting, drawing on vivid depictions of the landscape of the American southwest, subtly developed characters of real depth, and a dazzling imagination for surrealist art that blends seamlessly into the novel's reality.

I don't want to say too much more than that, really, but speaking of "seamless," I would note that the use of a poet and his poetry in a fictional context is hard to pull off without seeming painfully contrived. That it isn't -- that the poetr...more
Kerrie
Mar 09, 2012 Kerrie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone I meet
Recommended to Kerrie by: Can't remember
I read this book once a year and get something new out of it each time! For example, this past year I was pregnant & became a new mother, so I was particularly drawn to the stories of Anna Naverra (her paintings, like my poetry, being her children) & Maria Rosa (Fox's mother) this time. I often buy multiple copies to pass out to friends, family, even random strangers on the plane!

Michelle
Re-reading some old favorites at random this month. Really loved her ability to write magic into the real world which reminds me of Charles de Lint. However, instead of Ottawa, Windling makes the Southwest her domain. Not to be missed for anyone who loves modern fairy tales.
Suzanne
I so wanted to rate this book more highly, and I thought I would until I passed the half-way point, and then, as others have said, it just fell apart. Unfortunately, the characters are probably the weakest aspect of this book. We are told who they are, not shown. If the author has to tell you that her main character is "special," then she probably isn't. Maggie is distant, flat, contrived, smug, conceited, and pretentious. The other characters are also two-dimensional. They all seem to be "types...more
Freya
At the time I got this book I really liked the artwork of Brian Froud and as I passed by a charity shop I found this book with the illustrations done by him. It was unusual for me to read it as usually 'modern day' set books do not appeal to me, but it was actually quite good.

Just looking on Wiki, this book is apparently part of Brian Froud's Faerielands series:
Brian Froud's Faerielands series:

"Froud also produced a collaborative series of books collectively known as Brian Froud's Faerielands. H...more
Carol
This book of magical realism/fantasy was very much in the Charles de Lint vein - the main characters are artists, writers, and musicians and the story is about these people discovering and interacting with the magic and magical beings that exist under the surface of their surroundings. In this case, a poet named Maggie Black travels to the Arizona desert to take possession of the house and papers of recently dead fellow poet Davis Cooper, her mentor. Her intention is to write a biography of the...more
Laura Cowan
Wow, what a great read for someone who just finished writing her own (more literary focused) story of a landscape that has spirits in it. I almost put this book down a couple times early on because the writing kept dragging on in ruminations about romances, but toward the second half of the book things really picked up with figuring out what was going on out in those desert mountains. This reads like Tony Hillerman (southwest desert, but also romance and mystery genre fiction put together) combi...more
Alex Wells
I can't believe I missed this classic piece of mythic fiction in my reading journeys. It reminded me of Robert Holdstock's Mythago Wood, but while The Wood Wife has its darkness, it also has hope, which Mythago Wood seemed to lack. I'm also an occasional reader of Charles de Lint, but his characters sometimes lack the subtlety that I so enjoyed in this treatment of Southwest mythology. I never felt that things were over-explained. It's probably the best mythological treatment of a spiritual jour...more
Bethany
Picked this up at the library despite the cover. I have a small obsession with fairy tales and folklore/mythology already, and love finding modern fiction that uses old stories in a new way.
This is sort of a Native American trickster/rebirth story with some magic and spirituality and a love story thrown in. Her descriptions of the desert made me so homesick I found myself crying at times.
Nancy
Just didn't do much for me. Pet-like coyotes, all sorts of wildlife consorting in such proximity to humans.....that's fantasy alright, just not literary. I had a cartoonish, Disney image of this novel, although there was a stretch in the middle where I'd gotten quite engaged before it fell apart for me at the end.
Bryn
A beautiful book full of magic, mystery and poetry. Fans of Charles De Lint and Robert Holdstock will really appreciate this writing, as it has its roots in similar soil. I absolutly loved it.
Elen Sentier
When I have to run out of the house because it's on fire this book will be in one hand, saved. The other hand will be clutching the cats! I love this book and have got myself several copies of the one with the Brian Froud cover as this is just so perfect for the story. The more modern cover is really rubbishy and doesn't give you a feel for the tale at all.

You may already know Windling from her massive editing work with Ellen Kushner. they collected many, mmany versions of the fairy stories, ne...more
Jackson
Ughh. SO GOOD. PERFECT. Well, for me anyway. It tied together so many different interests of mine, and in the perfect way, so it was just perfect for me.

As for actual helpful things I can write: the book is well written, with superbly interesting characters; it draws from Native American mythology as well as the general mysticism of the desert to produce an amazing mythos around which the characters and plot are entwined; and finally, the plot just goes exactly where its meant to go, and finishe...more
Patricia J. O'Brien
Sometimes prose is poetry. As National Poetry Month kicks off, I want to shout out THE WOOD WIFE, a novel that’s new to me but which has been around since 1996 and won the Mythopoeic Award. I ordered it after reading a good review and because I’m a fan of Terri Windling’s skill as an editor of many fantasy and horror anthologies.
This review of THE WOOD WIFE is more a love letter to a story that fascinated me and to words that made me pause and sigh. It’s hard to categorize this novel, which has...more
Althea Ann
Winner of the Mythopoeic Award.

I really wish I hadn't read this so close to Charles DeLint's 'Memory and Dream'. It was written two years later (in 1996), and DeLint did a blurb for it, so I suppose he deserves credit - but the theme of this story is extremely similar. Both novels deal with the concept of creatures/spirits of myth and legend being given physical form through the work of contemporary artists - and the emotional angst and physical danger that this power can lead to.
However, I like...more
Samantha
When poet Davis Cooper mysteriously dies, Maggie Black, also a writer, finds she has inherited the reclusive writer's home and all of his possessions. Intending to write a biography on Cooper, Maggie sets herself the task of sorting through decade’s worth of Cooper's correspondences and drafts of poems new and old. It is through Maggie's exploration of her friend's life that she comes to discover Cooper's true muse behind his beautiful Wood Wife poetry: the desert. Maggie's journey to uncover Co...more
Brigid Keely
"The Wood Wife," by Terri Windling, follows Maggie Black as she deals with the estate of famous poet Davis Cooper and sorts through his papers and effects to write a book about his poetry and his life. She's been corresponding with him for years, but despite their friendship (and mentorship) he always forbade visits from her. After his mysterious death (he drowns in a dry river bed), she's surprised when she finds he's left his house and affects to her, and authorized her writing about his life....more
Caitlin
Terri Windling is one of the editors of the very cool Fairy Tale series of books and of the Bordertown series. I really like all of those books and when I saw she had a full-length novel I grabbed it up. I love this kind of fantastical reworking of old stories.

For me this book was just okay. Honestly, I think Charles de Lint has done a much better job with this kind of story (Forests of the Heart, for instance, and big chunks of Someplace to Be Flying). Ultimately he's a better writer than Windl...more
Sue CCCP
4.5 Stars

My full review: http://coffeecookiesandchilipeppers.b...

The beginning of the book was somewhat disorientating as we are presented with a Prologue with several vignettes from the night of Cooper’s death. After this, the story is mostly laid out from Maggie’s point of view, although we do follow several other characters’ viewpoints as well. We follow Maggie as she encounters the various humans and spirits in the area, with the other perspectives adding information or offering tantalizing...more
Marne
It took me a long time to get into this book, and before I really connected with it, I was sick with the flu for about a week. When I finally did feel like reading again, other books called to me more strongly. All these excuses explain why it took me over a month to read this book, but I have to wonder if the real reason was that I just wasn't that into it. Or, on the other hand, maybe I would have enjoyed the book more if I'd read it under normal circumstances. Who can say?

What I can say is th...more
Zoe Brooks

I always have a bit of a problem with books about writers or artists and this book has both. My creative English teacher, who first recognised my skill as a writer and poet, taught me to avoid writing about writers, regarding it as self-indulgent. Unfortunately there are a lot of books and art that are self-referential nowadays, indeed it seems to be highly popular with the people who give awards and other accolades. On the face of it I should have had a problem with this book, but I didn't.

Why...more
Eleanor
I'm vacilating between four and five stars so I suppose I want to give it four and a half, as I did really love this but didn't quite want to give it full marks.

My edition has a quote from fellow mythic fantasy author Robert Holdstock on the cover - which is entirely appropriate, as the book isn't a million miles away, thematically, from Holdstock's Mythago Wood series. They're both about the magic in the land, and how we can shape it into forms we can understand and interact with. As this was...more
Isabel
When the girl uncurled, she had been transformed, or else had transformed herself, into a grey hare, a desert jackrabbit, covered in a layer of dust.

When poet Davis Cooper is found dead in suspicious circumstances, Maggie Black, who had corresponded with Cooper for years but never met him, inherits his house in the Arizona desert near Tucson. She decides to live in the house for a while and write his biography. She gradually realises that the earth spirits of Cooper's poetry and his long-dead lo...more
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Terri Windling is an American editor, artist, essayist, and the author of books for both children and adults. Windling has won nine World Fantasy Awards, the Mythopoeic Award, the Bram Stoker Award, and her collection The Armless Maiden appeared on the short-list for the James Tiptree, Jr. Award. She was also honored with SFWA's Soltice Award in 2010, a life achievement award for "significant cont...more
More about Terri Windling...
The Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Forest A Midsummer Night's Faery Tale The Essential Bordertown (Borderland, #4) Bordertown (Borderland, #2) Borderland (Borderland, #1)

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