The Beast of Hushing Wood

The Beast of Hushing Wood by Gabrielle Wang is a beautiful little book, both to read and to look at, thanks to Gabby's gorgeous pen and ink illustrations, which lend the book a lovely, other-worldly atmosphere.

Ziggy Truegood lives in Dell Hollow, where strange, unsettling things have begun to happen. Evil has come to their town, surrounded by woods, and people are becoming suspicious and hostile. The arrival of a strange boy and his grandfather hold the clue to the mystery, but is Ziggy brave enough to defeat the jinn and the paranoia it has cast over her community?

It took me a little while to adjust to the setting of this junior fiction novel, which seems to be vaguely American -- there are woodchucks and squirrels in the woods, with sycamores and trees that turn red in autumn. The mysterious Raffi and his wise grandfather come from an equally non-specific Eastern/desert/North African land with its own mythology and language. While on one hand I appreciate this broadening of the usual cultural horizons, I'm not sure if others might be troubled by the 'floating', exotic, non-specific nature of Raffi's magic? Are we there yet? I'm not sure. It's hinted that Raffi and his grandfather come from a parallel world of the imagination, so I guess it doesn't really matter.

This is a beautifully written and produced story of courage and ingenuity that thoughtful children are sure to enjoy.


  1. Yes, I recall Gabrielle saying at the launch that she had intended to set it here, but her editor told her it just didn't work in an Australian landscape, so she went to stay with a friend in America to get some ideas! Must be nice to be able to travel for research!;-)

  2. That's really interesting, Sue, that helps clear it up for me!