Middle Grade, Forthcoming, Yellow Jacket, 2019
After a tragic explosion causes Lenora to lose her family, she goes to live with her estranged uncle at his estate. There, Lenora is drawn to the nearby woods and the magic she discovers within them. Can this magic reunite her with her family, or is it more sinister than she realizes?
Twelve-year-old Lenora's world is turned upside down after an explosion makes her the lone surviving member of her immediate family. She has nowhere to go, until her estranged Uncle Richard shows up and takes her away to live with him in his lonely mansion. Quiet and stern, he spends most of his time in his study conducting research and experimenting. Lenora is able to explore parts of the mansion and its lovely gardens, but Uncle Richard has one rule for her: Stay out of the woods.
Years ago, Lenora's cousin, Bobby went into Gilgevnah Woods and never came out. Now, Uncle Richard will do anything he can to destroy them. Lenora knows she is meant to stay away, but her grief and loneliness draw her in.
Upon entering the woods, she finds a world full of enchantment and beauty. Lenora befriends Bela the Scorlaman, keeper of Gilgevnah Woods, who shows her the wonder and the mystery of the place, but also promises to reunite her with her family. Is it too good to be true?
Will Lenora find peace in the magic of Gilgevnah Woods, or will she find something darker?
The Woods is an entrancing magical realism novel from author R.L. Toalson that tackles profound loss, grief, and finally, acceptance.
USA: Yellow Jacket
"Mysterious and beautifully rendered, R.L Toalson's THE WOODS is a heartbreaking story of family, magic and grief that will touch readers' hearts." -- Samantha M Clark, author of THE BOY, THE BOAT, AND THE BEAST
Toalson intersperses Lenora's story with Richard's journal excerpts and an enigmatic, menacing character's first-person narrative, all of which lends context and dimension. The seamless blend of fantastical and realistic elements is particularly effective at exploring the multifaceted impact of tragedy and loss. -- Booklist
"A supernatural wonder of a book. This Grimm-like fantasy is vividly detailed and will appeal to young and old readers alike." -- School Library Journal (STARRED REVIEW)