Whichwood by Tahereh Mafi
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Reader (Nov 14, 2017)
Series: Companion Novel to Furthermore
Our story begins on a frosty night…
Laylee can barely remember the happier times before her beloved mother died. Before her father, driven by grief, lost his wits (and his way). Before she was left as the sole remaining mordeshoor in the village of Whichwood, destined to spend her days washing the bodies of the dead and preparing their souls for the afterlife. It’s become easy to forget and easier still to ignore the way her hands are stiffening and turning silver, just like her hair, and her own ever-increasing loneliness and fear.
But soon, a pair of familiar strangers appears, and Laylee’s world is turned upside down as she rediscovers color, magic, and the healing power of friendship.
I’d like to thank Penguin Random House USA International for sending me an ARC of Whichwood and for organising the Whichwood Malaysian Blog Tour! #WhichwoodMYBlogTour
When I read Furthermore last year, I was so impressed by how whimsical and colourful Alice’s story was, all thanks to Tahereh Mafi’s gift of writing. When Tahereh Mafi revealed that there was going to be a companion novel which is set in the same universe as Furthermore, I was so ready.
In Whichwood, which is set in the land called Whichwood, readers are introduced to Laylee, a young mordeshoor—a person who is in charge of cleaning the bodies of the deceased and prepare them for a safe passage to the Otherworld.
Laylee is fed up with her unappreciated and thankless job as Whichwood’s mordeshoor, as normal 13-year-olds don’t have to deal with scrubbing dead bodies, now, do they? Laylee’s life is turned upside down when she realises that there are some unusual changes happening to her. And the sudden arrival of an oddly pale girl and an over-charismatic boy sets things in motion and an adventure for the young mordeshoor.
One of the reasons why I loved Furthermore was Tahereh Mafi’s amazing storytelling ability that is so vibrant, full of life and the narrative provided much fun to the reading experience of her middle grade books.
In Whichwood, it was no different. In fact, I might have enjoyed Whichwood more than Furthermore just because of its uniqueness as I have not read anything like it.
Get this, Whichwood is actually inspired by a Persian fantasy—please mind my ignorance as I don’t know exactly which one it is based on—but I loved how Tahereh Mafi weaved an incredible tale of a girl who’s forced to take over her family’s tradition and her destiny as a mordeshoor.
Aside from Whichwood being beautifully written with Tahereh Mafi’s signature flair, the story is fantastical and I can only sing praises for it as I was completely enamoured by Layle’s adventure with her new friends—if you’ve read Furthermore, you’d meet familiar faces!
I am quite certain that you’re wondering this: do I need to read Furthermore to read Whichwood?
To be honest, I would highly recommend you to read Furthermore first since it introduces you to the world that the books are set in. And the protagonists of Furthermore, Alice and Oliver, play a huge role in saving Laylee from a terrible fate in Whichwood.
Hence, I would definitely encourage you to read the first book too, even though Whichwood is considered a “companion novel”, but I felt like it was more of a sequel.
Overall, I think Whichwood just proves to us how much of an incredibly talented and unique storyteller Tahereh Mafi is. I loved every moment of Laylee’s story of discovering the beauty and power of friendship and how it could mend a soul and teach people to love again.
I would highly recommend Whichwood if you’re looking for something that is enchanting and beautifully written, without discounting the fact that it’s a MG book.
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