Pilu of the Woods by Mai K. Nguyen

Willow loves the woods near her house. They’re calm and quiet, so different from her own turbulent emotions, which she keeps locked away. When her emotions get the better of her one day, she decides to run away into the woods.

There, she meets Pilu, a lost tree spirit who can’t find her way back home—which turns out to be the magnolia grove Willow’s mom used to take her to. Willow offers to help Pilu, and the two quickly become friends.

But the journey is long, and Pilu isn’t sure she’s ready to return home yet—which infuriates Willow, who’s determined to make up for her own mistakes by getting Pilu back safely. As a storm rages and Willow’s emotions bubble to the surface, they suddenly take on a physical form, putting both girls in danger… and forcing Willow to confront her inner feelings once and for all.
Willow is feeling lost, figuratively and literally. She's just run away from her sister and her home to the woods where she once spent time with her mom. Her mom who's lost forever.

In the woods she meets Pilu, a tree spirit who is lost as well. Willow and Pilu's lives parallel each others in some ways. Willow and Pilu are both angry at their circumstances and don't know a way out their own turbulent anger. As Pilu starts talking about how she feels invisible and how she isn't sure she wants to go home something starts being drawn out in Willow. Pilu not wanting to go back home to her mother makes her think of the mother she will never get back to. This anger manifests into something real and scary. Will Willow be able to get control of her emotions? And will Pilu decide to face her family?

Pilu of the Woods is a story about facing our emotions before they get the better of us. The concept of Pilu of the Woods is one that could easily bring up my emotional side. The backstory alone got me teary eyed. The illustrations are colorful and have a pretty aesthetic. Everyone seems to love this comic, problem is, I don't.

Yes, I liked the concept and some of the artwork but there were so many little things that added up to me thinking this was just an okay read. First of all, did you think the person on the cover was a little girl? Because I didn't. I love art so if something feels off it sticks with me. I like how Willow is a tomboy and is a bit nerdy but she looks like a miniaturized tomboy teenage girl. Not a little girl who's a tomboy. She actually looks like Harry Potter. And me being a stickler for art design, it was an unnecessary distraction.

Also, do you see that dog on the cover? Yeah, he's hardly in the story which was a bummer. The other character who was actually part of the majority of the story, who is an adorable tree spirit, would have looked great on the cover but I digress.

Now the art design of Willow could have been looked over however, the pacing of the story was off and the message was a little too much in your face. Willow goes to the woods, finds the tree spirit, and immediately we get into what Willow needs to learn about her family life. I would have liked her to realize everything in the end. She automatically couldn't believe why Pilu didn't want to go home. How could she do that to her family? So then that should have been it. She learned her lesson so why would everything else need to happen?

So right away the message of the story is put in the forefront. Something that could have been put off. And then still while we journeyed and at the end of the story the message was pushed upon me again and again. I got it the first time so that frustrated me. The message is a good one that I think is great for the audience of this comic - children. I thought it was brilliant to have her emotions manifest because it shows how real her emotions feel to her. And just like kids (and sometimes adults too) she didn't know how to handle it. It's all great but not executed to my liking. But hey, everyone seems to like this comic and you may too. The author's illustrations are really pretty. I placed a couple of her images from her tumblr below so you can enjoy. Pilu of the Woods just wasn't for me.


Thanks to NetGalley and Oni Press for letting me review Pilu of the Woods (coming out April 16th, 2019) in exchange for an honest review!


Have you ever read a book with a tree spirit in it? Do you think I'm being too harsh on Willow's design? Let me know in the comments below.

Comments

  1. Great review! Reading the synopsis I thought maybe the dog was the tree spirit, and I was a bit confused. So, without having read the comic, I completely agree they should have put the tree spirit on the cover! Especially if the dog doesn't play a large role!!

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    1. I was literally going to say the same thing, hahaha.

      The artwork is gorgeous but it is a little confusing sounding. Great review!

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  2. I had no idea the cover image was a girl until I read your review. LOL It's beautiful artwork overall though, I think, but the actual story definitely seems a bit too young for my liking.

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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    1. It honestly could have been good for the age. It wasn't like simple words or anything. It had potential.

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  3. Sorry that this one didn't completely work for you. I do like the artwork but I don't tend to pick up comics and graphic novels.

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    1. I've got to start reading comics for adults so that you can see how good comics can be!

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  4. I couldn't tell if Willow was a boy or girl at first glance, but I do like the artwork. It's pretty. Even though there were issues, glad to hear it worked overall! :)

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    1. Well not really. It was a good story but it was a little too preachy in my opinion.

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  5. I thought Willow would be older from the cover image and the art is all a bit too cutesy for my taste. But then this is intended for a younger audience so that's fair!

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    1. True on all points. I wouldn't consider the art cutsey but I guess it could be. I like all types of art as long as it looks good.

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  6. This was a great review – you articulated your points so well! And I totally did not think that Willow was a girl. Your comment about her looking like a mini Harry Potter had me laughing because it was so spot on . Anyways, I really enjoyed reading this! :)

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    1. Yay! I like how everyone is agreeing with me. I feel so validated! lol :P

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  7. oh how precious the illustrations are so good! Love the parallels between Willow and Pilu's lives! What a great way to teach about emotions!

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    1. Although I didn't love the book it has great ideas. I did love the little monsters being a parallel for Willow's emotions.

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  8. Sorry you didn't love this one- but it does sound like it had some good things going for it. I enjoyed reading your review and hearing your thoughts. Thanks for sharing. :)

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    1. It really did. It's not my age range so it's fine if I don't enjoy it I feel. I do love graphic novels/comics of most age groups though so it would have been nice if I enjoyed it.

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