Books · Life. · Lit. · Reviews

Book Review: Whichwood by Tahereh Mafi (#WhichwoodMYBlogTour)

Format: Paperback ARC, 368 Pages
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Reader
Pub. Date: November 14th, 2017
My rating: 4.5 frosty stars!
A new adventure about a girl who is fated to wash the bodies of the dead in this companion 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
THE FIRST EVER MALAYSIAN BLOG TOUR! I am so excited and thankful to be given a chance to be part of this. Also, all the thanks to Penguin Random House for the gorgeous review copy. In the midst of my assignments pilling up, it is a sight for sore eyes indeed.
Whichwood by Tahereh Mafi is a middle grade book and also the companion to Furthermore. You can read this as a standalone, as Tahereh filled the gaps with small footnotes in an interrupting narrative style to inform readers who did not read Furthermore, with a slight background of it. For example, “Dear  Reader: You should know that Alice, a decidedly proud girl, wouldn’t approve of my sharing this personal information with you” or “Apologies: Furthermore is an altogether different story, one that takes place before this one, wherein Alice and Oliver are sole protagonists. It’s quite good, I think.“, which is so fun because it makes it witty and amusing to read throughout the book and in a way it reminded me of  Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. Fun-fact: I read Furthermore when it first released and I DNF-ed it. I thought it was really slow, and it took ages for anything to happen. Also, the writing felt too flowery and over the top. But picking it up the second time, felt a lot better. Things really picked up after 50 pages and I just flew through it. Trust me, I was pleasantly surprised.
The story introduces us our main character, Laylee, who is a mordeshoor, which in some ways is a magical undertaker. Laylee’s entire famiky has the responsibility of cleaning and burying bodies of the dead in order for them to cross over to the other side.  Laylee, possessing the gift to be able to see and communicate with spirits, is how we were introduced to her mother’s spirit that remains behind with her in the castle. Her mother’s death caused her father to leave Laylee in search of Death to question him for taking his beloved wife away, leaving Laylee with the responsibility of a mordeshoor alone. The people of Whichwood are superstitious and they neither understand the importance of Laylee’s job as a mordeshoor or even respect her. Taking advantage of a 13 year old Laylee leaves her overworked and underpaid which leads to her overuse on magic that is beginning to take a toll on her, and death is catching up fast. Enters Alice and Oliver, from Furthermore, to help Laylee. Even though they’re unsure of how to or what is wrong, they know that something is not right with Laylee. We are then later introduced to Ben, Laylee’s distance neighbor and would be friend, who I adored as well, as he help Alice and Oliver’s quest to help Laylee after seeing how she’s deteriorated over time.
I love how just like Furthermore, the characters come alive and resonates with you, which I personally feel is a really good thing for children when they read this. The story bears multiple themes of friendship, family and self-acceptance. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Mafi’s protagonists are strong, capable, and the resilience they portrayed in the face of adversity is truly admirable. Laylee as a character possess such strength that you feel all her loneliness, determination, fears and sorrow. But to later watch her opening up to spontaneity, friendship, and allowing people to help her, was so heartwarming. It was heartbreaking and throughout the book is just one emotional ride. This book is whimsical and such a delight. I am so glad I got the opportunity to fall in love with these characters the second time around. I am really looking forward and definitely keeping an eye out for Tahereh Mafi’s next book!

Also, don’t forget to join this SIGNED COPY OF FURTHERMORE on Kevin’s blog! LIKE SERIOUSLY.




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